It took Butler athletic director Barry Collier just three days to identify, interview, and hire his new men’s basketball coach. On Monday, the Bulldogs announced that 2001 BU graduate and former men’s basketball player and assistant coach LaVall Jordan would be taking the reigns following the departure of Chris Holtmann to Ohio State.
The 38 year old Michigan native played for Butler from 1997-2001 when current BU athletic director Barry Collier was the head coach, and Jordan returned to the bench as an assistant coach to Todd Lickliter from 2004-2007. From there he spent time at Iowa and Michigan as an assistant before landing the head coaching job at Milwaukee in April 2016. The Panthers went 11-24 in his lone season as a head coach and just 4-14 in Horizon League play, but made a miracle run to the HL tournament title game as a 10 seed before falling just short of an NCAA tournament berth.
While it’s a little confusing to see a guy with a .314 winning percentage in his one year as a head coach get bumped up to the majors like this, it’s not a shock to see Butler keep things inside their family. Every single coach since Collier left the bench has been a Butler assistant before getting the top spot. To add to that familiarity issue, Collier is clearly friendly with Jordan after coaching him way back in the day. With Butler’s 2017 recruiting class, the best in school history, apparently mostly staying intact, Collier had no real reason to favor one of Holtmann’s assistants and went with the guy that he was most comfortable with instead.
Jordan clearly knows how to win at Butler, having played in three NCAA tournament himself and coached in two more. However, all of that happened with the Bulldogs in the Horizon League, the conference that Jordan just struggled mightily in during his first year as a head coach. Now, in his defense, Milwaukee was picked to finish DFL in the Horizon, so it’s not that big of a deal that they actually did, and making the tourney title game run kind of mitigates the 4-14 league play record.
It might seem like Jordan could be ever so slightly over his head in the Big East now, but I’d like to point you towards his tenure with Michigan to change that mindset. After all, Jordan had a hand in recruiting the Wolverines squad that advanced to the national championship game in 2013. Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, all of these guys were brought into Ann Arbor with Jordan on the staff. If Jordan can mix The Butler Way with Michigan-type recruiting in Indianapolis, then the Bulldogs are going to be a force to be reckoned with as long as Jordan is patrolling the sidelines.
As Marquette fans invested in the quality of Butler’s program going forward, we’ll get an idea of how fast Jordan can get up and running pretty quickly. The July recruiting period starts in exactly one month — July 12th — so keep your eyes open for news about what players the Bulldogs are after under Jordan’s guidance. Chris Holtmann had irons in the fire with as many as 10 of the Class of 2018 top 100 players according to 247 Sports, so it will be up to Jordan and his yet to be hired assistants to keep that kind of momentum going.