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1 on 1 with Butler's Brandon Miller

Butler University men's basketball coach Brandon Miller speaks with the media at the Big East Conference media day event in New York last October. (File photo by The Associated press)
Butler University men's basketball coach Brandon Miller speaks with the media at the Big East Conference media day event in New York last October. (File photo by The Associated press)

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tom101010.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Bulldog coach insists that program has 'extremely bright future'

Friday, April 25, 2014 12:05 pm
INDIANAPOLIS – Butler University men's basketball coach Brandon Miller has spent the past nine months laying the groundwork for his program through a trying season in which the Bulldogs finished 14-17 in its initial season of competing in the Big East Conference. Miller spent time amidst the on-going construction of not just his program in a figurative sense, but of Hinkle Fieldhouse in a literal one Thursday with News-Sentinel sports editor Tom Davis and here are his thoughts on a number of topics.

What are you selling this spring to recruits in wake of a 14-17 season?

“Butler basketball sells itself. I don't do a ton of selling. You talk about Butler. You talk about all of the benefits that you get from going to school here. The education that you'll get, the degree that you walk away with.”

Does that resonate with kids?

“It does. It does with the kids that we are recruiting. The kids that we are recruiting, the education means a lot. And also, the culture and environment of our program is in good shape. The guys in the locker room are great kids and great people.

“You'll have an experience here of playing with great teammates. To certain kids, the education and culture means a lot. To the right kid, that means a ton.

“The future of Butler basketball is extremely bright. You are playing in the Big East, which is one of the best basketball conferences in America. You are playing in Hinkle Fieldhouse every night. The opportunity that is in front of us is one that is extremely bright and you'll have an opportunity to come here and have a great experience.”

You mentioned “great kids and great people,” but you have had six players transfer in the recent past, if they are “great kids and great people” why the mass exodus of players?

“There are some situations where transferring isn't a bad thing for the student-athlete. Some situations aren't perfect or the right situation. And each situation is completely different. It's on an individual basis as to why they are making that decision.

“There has been a lot of change in a short amount of time, but at the end of the day, would you say this is going to be a normal thing at Butler? No, its not going to be a normal thing at Butler. This year has been an odd year. There has been a lot of change and it's been a unique situation.”

Are you communicating the expectations to recruits clearly so as to eliminate issues later in their careers?

“We are very straight forward in recruiting. Kids knowing exactly what we are about, who their teammates are, what our roles are, what we are trying to do on a daily basis is communicated very clearly.

“That's what we've been doing during the season, in the preseason and with recruiting and we've had pretty positive feedback from that.”

We're you stricter with existing players this season because it was your first season and you wanted to set expectations from the outset? Was that a reason behind five different suspensions occurring this season?

“We have a standard in which we are going to carry ourselves in the way that we are going to play, the way that we are going to practice, and the way that we are going to be on and off of the court. That standard will always be the standard at Butler.

“Our guys know the expectations in terms of who we want to be, what our team is and the way that we are going to carry ourselves. That will always be the standard.”

Have the recruits and their parents asked about the transfers and suspensions?

“Different kids have different concerns and there have been a number of questions that I have answered.”

On a national scale, transferring has become an epidemic. Why is that?

“First and foremost, more people are talking about it now. The exposure for transfers is much greater today than it was 10 or 15 years ago. With social media, as soon as someone transfers everybody knows. But on top of that, the numbers have increased and I think part of that is because of the exposure. Whoever transfers is out there and everybody knows about them.

“And in today's day and age, more and more kids are willing to wait, be patient and wait their turn in terms of where they stand on a basketball team. That's at the high school level, that's at the AAU level.”

How do you please 13 guys?

“You create a culture with your team. You create a culture where everybody knows their role. You create a culture to the best of your ability where people understand exactly what is going on on a day-to-day basis. That's the goal is to create that culture that you want to create and you need to create.”

In recruit Kelan Martin, what is he as a player?

“Kelan can score in a variety of ways. He's a multidimensional player that can score inside and score outside. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter and he can drive the ball and get tot he basket. He finds ways to put the ball in the basket.

“He can play on the perimeter and he can play inside, but what (numbered) position goes by his name has yet to be determined, but he's a versatile guy. He can also guard multiple spots. He's a bigger body (6-foot-6, 225 pounds). He's a strong kid. You can always get better, but he's physically strong right now. And on top of all of that, Kelan is a high-character kid. He fits Butler University off of the basketball court. He fits our locker room. He comes from a good family. He comes from a winning culture in high school, he's won a ton of games.”

On Tyler Wideman?

“Tyler also comes from a winning culture (at Lake Central High School). He's a bigger body. His shoulders might not fit through the doorway. He's a big, strong and physical kid who has continued to get better and better and better throughout his high school career. One of the best things that Tyler does is pass the ball. He's a terrific passer and he can finish around the basket. But he's also increased his game where he can step out and make perimeter jump shots and he can (drive) the ball a little bit, as well. We're extremely excited about both Kelan and Tyler coming here.”

What are the front court roles next year with Kameron Woods, Andrew Chrabascz, Kelan and Tyler?

“It has yet to be determined in terms of the rotation and how all of those guys fit and there might even be another guy, who is a bigger guy, in the mix.”

Can Roosevelt Jones play the point guard some?

“Two years ago, when you watched Butler play, there were times when Roosevelt brought the ball down the floor. There were times when Roosevelt and Alex (Barlow) were in the game together and Roosevelt would bring the ball down the floor. I think that there are multiple guys who can handle the basketball, pass the basketball and get us into our offense, and Roosevelt is one of those guys.

“He can handle the ball, depending on match-ups, who is guarding him, pressuring him. You might want to have different guys bring the ball down the floor so that Alex isn't having to throughout the course of the game constantly fighting pressure.

“But to answer your question, yes, Roosevelt can handle the ball. He led us in assists two years ago.”

Next year's roster isn't long, but it does have some strength in Andrew, Tyler, Roosevelt and Kelan. Will you be better suited for the Big East next year?

“All of our guys are in the weight room right now. We are working hard to increase our strength and our conditioning. But having Roosevelt come back and get his physicality, and Andrew coming back in who he is, he is a contact seeker. And Kelan is a contact seeker, as well. You have some physical bodies on next year's team and other guys are continuing to gain strength. We can be a more physical team next year.”

What are the current players doing this spring?

“We took a week-and-a-half off from when the season ended, but guys have been in the weight room four times a week. We've been playing in open gym and guys are also doing individual work with the assistant coaches.

“It's limited by how many people can be on the floor at different times, but you are allowed to work your guys out during the summer, and the spring and the fall.”

Is Roosevelt playing full-speed now?

“Yes. He did not practice this year, but he started playing open gym about two-and-a-half weeks ago. He's full contact now. He was doing individual work while we were still playing, but he was not allowed to do contact.”

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tom101010.


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