INDIANAPOLIS – When Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier made the decision to hire Brandon Miller as the Bulldogs' new men's basketball coach, he felt that getting a coach already familiar with the program would make the transition from Brad Stevens to the next guy much smoother.
“There's something special about (hiring) somebody that has had a chance to be a part of this program for a long time,” Collier said.
Miller must share the same philosophy because on Monday, he didn't look to the outside to form his coaching staff; he did things the “Butler way,” which more often than not is to keep new hires within the family.
Miller elected to retain both current Bulldog assistant coaches, Michael Lewis and Terry Johnson.
Neither coach played at Butler, as Miller did. However, both have experience working under Stevens (a combined 12 years) and have learned what makes this program successful.
Just as Collier stressed finding the right person to lead the program, Miller sought the proper fit for his coaching staff. Lewis spoke recently about how that same philosophy applies to recruiting for the Bulldogs.
“We want to get the right kids in that locker room,” Lewis said. “We feel like if we have the right kids in the locker room, then we'll be able to achieve at a high level.”
Butler added players to its roster this season from the East Coast (Rene Castro, Massachusetts, and Andrew Chrabascz, Rhode Island), the Midwest (Nolan Berry, St. Louis, Michael Volovic, Carmel, and Steven Bennett, New Castle), and the West Coast (Elijah Brown, Los Angeles).
Spreading the recruiting net can be challenging, Lewis admitted, but that challenge applies not just in scouring the nation for the right talent, but more importantly, searching for the right people.
“We have a national reputation,” Lewis said. “Our job (as assistants) is easy because we have a great university and a great basketball program to sell. Yet our job is difficult because we don't want to get away from the type of character, the type of kids that we have inside that locker room.”
Lewis' sales pitch was altered for the good this spring, when Butler announced that it would be joining the Big East Conference. That step up in leagues (from the Horizon in 2011-12 to the Atlantic 10 in 2012-13, and now the Big East) hasn't resulted in any commitments from elite recruits as of yet, but Lewis said the move will certainly make the program more attractive to high school kids.
“It's been very well received,” Lewis said of the move. “The (recruits) liked Butler to begin with, but now there's the chance to compete against the best every night.
“The success that Butler has had has put us among the elite in college basketball. And now you have a conference affiliation to support that.”
Johnson will be in his ninth season on staff at Butler, including two as director of basketball operations from 2004-06.
He has been an assistant for the Bulldogs since 2007 and has previous stops at IPFW, Auburn, Lincoln Trail JC and Indiana Tech.
Lewis played guard under Bob Knight at Indiana from 1997-2000 and will be in his third season at Butler.
He was hired at Butler in 2011 after stops at Loyola, Eastern Illinois, Stephen F. Austin and Texas Tech.
The Jasper High School graduate was the 1996 High School Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior.