Chart Week here at Play For The Garden will be displaying one chart per Big East team; two a day in alphabetical order spanning the week.
Brad Stevens was regarded as one of the best head coaches in Division-1 basketball before he abruptly and unexpectedly left Butler to become the head coach of the Boston Celtics this past summer. He is only 36 years old and during his five year tenure as the Bulldogs head coach he accumulated a 166-49 record. He took Butler to back-to-back national championship games and was assumed to be on pace to become one of the best coaches of all time. And he did it all without any high-profile recruits.
Stevens recruited players that fit to his style and who were willing to play his style. He was also a big proponent of analyzing advanced metrics and applying the results to his game plans. He may have been the most ‘modern’ coach college basketball had and even though it was often unconventional, it was very successful.
Now Butler enters the season with a new coach and in a different conference.
Brandon Miller, who was hired by Butler in April to become an assistant coach, is now the team’s head coach. He was most recently an assistant coach at Illinois, and before that, an assistant at Ohio State.
It will be interesting to see moving forward what type of approach he takes. Not only due to what Stevens accomplished, and the style in which he did it, but also because of the school’s move to the Big East.
Making the move to the Big East from the A-10 (and the Horizon League the year before that), should help Butler target higher profile recruits. But will acquiring seemingly ‘better’ talent be what Miller thinks he needs for this program to have continued success? Or will he attempt to find ‘style’ players and diamonds in the rough like Stevens did for all those years?
Butler is in line for many changes, but the results are not something the program expects to deviate too much. However, it appears the Bulldogs will be taking a step back this year (not only are they losing Stevens, but they lost Rotnei Clarke to graduation and Roosevelt Jones to a season ending wrist injury), but they will hope it is only a one year instance. There is only so much a coach can do under certain conditions.
Miller will likely be examined under a tight microscope this season, and that’s only natural. But I don’t think anyone should expect him to come in and replicate the success that Stevens had right away. He’ll run the program his way, and much of that could actually be dictated by the rigors of the new conference.
We’ll never know how Stevens would have fared in a major conference, but we will know how Miller does soon enough.