Newspaper article International New York Times

Familiar Pipeline Is Tapped to Fill Butler's Coaching Void ; Miller Is Latest in Long Line of Young Assistants Who Take over the Top Job

Newspaper article International New York Times

Familiar Pipeline Is Tapped to Fill Butler's Coaching Void ; Miller Is Latest in Long Line of Young Assistants Who Take over the Top Job

Article excerpt

The Indianapolis university has lost many coaches over the years, but it can always count on an assistant to step up, the latest being Brandon Miller.

Soon after Butler University Coach Todd Lickliter was named Division I coach of the year in 2007, he left to take over the University of Iowa's program. The university's athletic director, Barry Collier, in need of a replacement, settled on a Butler assistant named Brad Stevens, a 30-year-old with no previous head coaching experience.

Stevens led the Bulldogs for six seasons, including back-to-back appearances in the national title game, before he departed last July to coach the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association. For his replacement, Collier tapped Brandon Miller, another young Butler assistant.

"We like to keep it in the family when we can," Collier said.

There has been a familial line of succession since Collier, a 1976 Butler graduate, spent 11 seasons on the bench here. When he jumped to Nebraska in 2000, Thad Matta, his assistant, was promoted. Matta left for Xavier a season later, and Lickliter, a deputy of his, was the next man up.

The stability has worked. Since 2000, Butler has reached the N.C.A.A. tournament nine times, and under Stevens, the Bulldogs achieved rock-star status among midlevel programs. They ascended the conference ranks from the Horizon League to the Atlantic 10 last year and to the Big East this season. But as Butler readies for its first taste of the Big East tournament, it is a disappointing 12- 16. Too much change, it seems, has rankled the Bulldogs.

"We're absolutely frustrated," said Alex Barlow, a junior point guard. "But we've gone on runs in March, so we know four days in New York could change the whole season."

Late one night last month, after Butler lost to Providence, Miller sat in his office in a corner of Hinkle Fieldhouse and reflected on what has been a challenging year, even beyond the loss of Stevens. Two valuable seniors graduated; two other players transferred during the season. One of the team's top talents, Roosevelt Jones, sustained a season-ending wrist injury during a summer tour in Australia. …

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