The search is on. To the delight of most Hoosier hoops faithful, Indiana University has parted ways with Tom Crean. Now what?
I give you Brad Stevens 2.0...Chris Holtmann. (Sorry to you Indiana fans who actually thought, and for some reason still think, Brad Stevens is coming to Indiana. He isn’t. I promise.)
Who is Chris Holtmann?
Holtmann attended a small NAIA university just 126 miles north of Bloomington named Taylor University. There, he led Taylor to a 25-9 record and a number one seed in the 93-94 season. Holtmann was also named an NAIA All-American that year. He graduated from Taylor in 1994 with a degree in Psychology. Chris then went on to get his master’s degree in athletic administration from Ball State in 2000.
Holtmann started his coaching career at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 1997. He then worked as an assistant coach for four different schools until finally landing his first head coaching position at Gardner-Webb in 2010. Holtmann was head of the ship for the Runnin’ Bulldogs for three seasons. He was named Big South coach of the year in 2013.
Holtmann was then hired on as an assistant under Brandon Miller at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. When Stevens left for the NBA, Miller was promoted to head coach of the Bulldogs in 2014. Miller then requested a medical leave of absence after just one season as head coach and Holtmann was appointed interim head coach. He then was given the head coaching position prior to the 2014-2015 season. Holtmann has now been at the top of Butler basketball for three seasons and gone to the tournament each time. This season he has his squad sitting pretty at 23-7 and 4-1 in their last five games.
Why he’d be good for IU
Now that you’re up to date on Chris Holtmann, lets talk about why he’d be a good fit here at Indiana. Yes, he did not coach under Brad Stevens. However, their coaching styles are eerily similar.
Holtmann, like Stevens, is a very defensive minded coach. In his last season at Gardner-Webb, his squad never gave up more than 70 points and lost only twice. Once to UNC and the other was in a triple overtime loss at Campbell. This season, with Butler, his team only gives up 68.6 PPG. Defense is a good thing folks, and Indiana could definitely use some of it. Butler also only averages about 10 turnovers per game. Indiana’s average? 15...
To those that argue that Tom Crean was a great recruiter...so is Holtmann. Currently, he has the 21st best recruiting class coming in next season for the Bulldogs and the best class ever for Butler. Chris knows what basketball in Indiana means. He played here in college and has coached in the heartland (or secondary heartland) of Hoosier nation.
Why he’d be bad for IU
Offensively, Holtmann could be a bit of a culture shock for Indiana fans. He runs a guard heavy set that moves the ball well and doesn’t shoot a lot of threes. Now, that doesn’t mean they don’t shoot threes at all, it just means they look for the higher percentage shot first. The bad thing about this is that when the team needs to go on a big run or get some quick baskets it’s a bit tougher. However, the team would be more disciplined especially in late game situations.
Secondly, rebounding could be a problem for a Chris Holtmann squad since he runs a guard heavy set most of the time. This season, Butler averaged 31 RPG while Indiana corralled 39 a game.
This is all hypothetical, of course, but Chris Holtmann at Indiana would be a solid fit. However, why would he want to leave Butler? The team has gone to the NCAA tournament two years in a row and are on their way to third. He is actually able to recruit players from within the state of Indiana, and he has some serious job security with his stellar start at Butler. The only thing that stands out about the IU job may be the big pay-day coming his way.