What if LaVall Jordan was in his 8th year?

Discussion in 'Butler Basketball' started by bmradio99, Feb 1, 2021.

  1. bmradio99

    bmradio99 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    In July 2013, replacing Brad Stevens came down to Brandon Miller and LaVall Jordan. We know what happened thereafter.

    The hypothetical question: what if Barry Collier had chosen LaVall Jordan as head coach instead? So no Holtmann years, but Jordan would, most likely*, be the longest-tenured Butler coach since Barry Collier, now in his 8th season.

    What would this season look like? Would the advantages of having a seasoned head coach and continuity and stability on the recruiting trail be paying off right now?

    *I know there are some who are convinced he'd have run the program into the ground and Barry would have let him go after 4 years. Fine. I just don't see that as a likely scenario.
  2. bmradio99

    bmradio99 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Full disclosure on my personal feelings: I think that LaVall Jordan is an incredible human and excellent steward of the program. It should go without saying that I want him to succeed and be one of the greatest coaches ever at Butler.

    I am not convinced, one way or another, on his head coaching prowess. I could see him becoming a very good coach with time; his players clearly like playing for him, and experience never hurts. Or I could see him never rising above last year's success (which, remember, was still with Holtmann's guys). I knew we were going to suck this year, but I don't think I anticipated the lack of identity or the same lingering issues that continue to rear their heads each season.

    But I do think that continuity would have helped (and will help) immensely. Greg McDermott at Creighton is a great example. I do not believe he is a great coach. Good enough, sure. But he has been able to establish his program identity over his 10+ years in Omaha and recruits (very well) to it, and that's why they're the second best team in the league right now.
  3. Ignatius J. Reilly

    Ignatius J. Reilly Well-Known Member

    I've said this in other threads, but Butler fans are very spoiled, especially post-Brad. They have this idea that you can just find a NBA-caliber playcaller and get him on the bench like *that*. Sometimes I think Butler fans have this sort of arrogant attitude that is akin to thinking that if Butler's administration just wanted to then they could go out and hire Tom Izzo tomorrow, but they are simply too cheap to do so. It's fine to have high expectation but like Brad v2.0 isn't walking through that door tomorrow.

    Butler doesn't have the resources of many of its peers, and even within that resource pool they are extremely frugal. That and there are about 20 elite coaches in college hoops. Similar to your post bmradio99, they need consistency and a lack of turnover more than anything.
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  4. Irishdawg

    Irishdawg Banned User

    Well put both of you. I'm frustrated with the lack of identity that this year's team has, and I do think the lack of improvement in the bigs (the returners), does not help the staff's case that they are doing a good job. However, I do recognize this year is different, and some coaches and teams have done better with the adjustments than others. Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State have been awful (for them) so far this year, and they have far more resources and talent than Butler could ever dream of having.

    Having said that, I do think that a guy like Holtmann benefited tremendously from his staff, in addition to being a really good coach. Same with Stevens. I wouldn't put Jordan on their level as playcallers, but I do think he's done well with the resources he does have as a recruiter. Perhaps his staff is better than I think, but if we're going to call for a commitment of resources, that's where I'd focus, because you look at who was on Stevens' and Holtmann's staffs and IMO it's night and day to what LaVall's had so far during his tenure, though I don't think Meyer is as bad as some have made him out to be.

    I wouldn't put him on the hot seat at all at this point. Wright, Williard and McDermott were all bad to mediocre initially at programs with more resources than Butler has. Cooley is one heck of a charmer and can get his guys motivated, but I still think his teams underachieve relative to the talent they have, and certainly don't perform nearly as well as I think they should out of the league.
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  5. bumba

    bumba Well-Known Member

    If LJ would have had the similar type of recruiting success, another school would have poached him just like Holtmann. The protective buyout cause wasn't that big of a deal in the HC's contract until Bolt left. That was Barry asleep at the wheel.

    My thought is somebody else would be the current HC and Bolt would have never entered the BU realm.
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  6. BUcheer

    BUcheer Well-Known Member VIP Member

    While Butler takes a certain pride in doing more with less, they aren’t “cheap” per se—the $ necessary to hire a top 15 coach is just not available. For those who think we can just go hire a sure fire established winner—put those thoughts out of your head.
    I want Vall to succeed for many reasons. But if there’s not reasonable growth in X’s and O’s, then we need an established, proven AC—either big man or defense, idk. I’m not saying Jeff Meyer fit that profile to a T, but as said above—we miss him more than many think and his steadying influence on Vall and the players in a year like this is missed.
    2xDawg likes this.
  7. bmradio99

    bmradio99 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    That's certainly a possibility in this fictional world. If LVJ is a successful head coach at Butler in his 6th year, is he a more attractive candidate for the Michigan job than Juwan Howard? LVJ's ties to Butler certainly would make it a hard decision, but UM has enough money to make that decision quite a bit easier.
    bumba likes this.
  8. dawgs2014

    dawgs2014 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I fear every coaching change not so much for the change in personnel, but because Butler *has* to hire a coach who can punch above his weight class in order to sustain the success that they’ve had.

    Realistically, we don’t have the institutional financial commitment that is required for us to have the success that we’ve had. We happen to have a very good athletic director, and have happened to strike gold a couple of times on coaching hires.

    Do I watch Butler and become overwhelmed by our tactical prowess? No. But the reality of the matter is that our offense, and generally our team, has finished similarly to every other Butler team I’ve watched, and I think it’s done so without guys who are ideal to run it.

    Our defense has generally been more of a concern, even though this year I have to say I’m actually quite impressed with it given how many new people we have.

    This year was always going to be a growing year. Even with Hodges eligible from the start and Johnson and David healthy, we probably weren’t going to be real close to a bubble team.

    Then Johnson goes down, Hodges can’t play, not only do we lose the 3 most important weeks of practice of the season, but the whole team gets covid, *AND THEN* the best player and leader got hurt for 3 weeks.

    At that point, there really was no chance. It was going to be patch and play and hope for the best. You’re playing freshmen for a ton of minutes who aren’t physically (or likely mentally) ready for the Big East. Your only shooter is a mid major who works really hard, and your best scorer can’t shoot.

    You lost an nba guy from last year, and that guy wasn’t even the best player that you lost.

    The struggles this year as predictable as a sunrise and in no way are of concern to me.

    Have I been overly impressed by Jordan? No. But I think that in terms of forward looking horizon the long term future looks as bright as it ever has in my time as a Butler fan.

    I also believe that if you change coaches it is more likely than not that the guy you hire will be worse than Jordan. That alone isn’t reason to keep Jordan, but I also don’t have any reason not to keep Jordan.

    Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops
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  9. PSUButlerFan

    PSUButlerFan Well-Known Member

    Probably the most rational take I have read in a while
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  10. knobcreekfan

    knobcreekfan Well-Known Member

    I just have to laugh. Much like IU compares everyone to Knight, we compare all coaches and team success to Brad. The success we had as a mid-major and a first-time HC will likely never be seen again - by us or any other program. If that is how your are judging the program, go find another program.

    Then, some on this board need to go back and read game threads during the Holtmann years. People complained he never knew when to call a timeout. He was not good at X & O. He benched KMart. He played KMart too much. There is the infamous "lost the team" thread. People said Holt and his staff were great recruiters, yet they b*tched that the team we had on the floor was not sufficient to play in BE. Now people think he is an elite coach we just let slip away - and that a higher buyout would have stopped a large football school with virtually unlimited funds from buying out his contract.

    As folks have said above, one thing we need as much as anything else is consistency in the HC seat. It takes time to develop relationships with recruits. One of the easiest weaknesses a competing coach could point out to recruit is our turnover with HC's. It takes time to get a bench full of your players. It takes time for a new HC to learn their role versus that of an AC. It takes time to get the right ACs in place and let them develop.

    I also have not been overwhelmed by LJ. However, I also look at all the facts and circumstances of the last few years. Holt took almost his entire staff with him and left LJ scrambling for new staff. We had some STRONG AC's under Holt and they are missed. Just as this team of coaches were starting to gel, we had some staff leave this offseason.

    We all knew this year was going to be lean. Then COVID. Offseason training for a bunch of young kids was limited. Season all scrambled up. No exhibition games to gain some real game experience. No "easy" non-conference games at home. COVID outbreak within the team. Players recovering from COVID. Players banging knees and getting injured. And much like we have seen in the population as a whole, the last year has been challenging for people and mental health issues - we have some players that have struggled with that too.

    For the folks that think Danko, Barry and the Board are just tight wads and there are endless piles of cash sitting around to spend on basketball, you are simply clueless. We are an institution of higher learning that has used their basketball team as a marketing tool. It has worked quite well as a marketing tool. However, 1) all marketing ever does is get people interested in your product. If your product is sh*t, people will not buy it. We need to spend money on non-basketball things to make sure the product we are selling kicks a**. 2) We simply do not have piles of cash. We have a relatively small endowment and the powers that be need to safeguard it. There have been 65-75 private liberal arts schools that have permanently closed their doors in the last 5-6 years. Especially post-COVID, we need excellent programs and facilities to keep people enrolling.
  11. dawgs2014

    dawgs2014 Well-Known Member

    Yeah people complained about Holt as an in game coach non stop. Adjustments, misuses of time outs, same stuff as we are saying now.

    The all of a sudden the off season would hit, football schools would come calling and we’d forget all that.

    Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops
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  12. Ignatius J. Reilly

    Ignatius J. Reilly Well-Known Member

    I remember when LaVall-to-Michigan rumors were abundant and folks were bemoaning how screwed we'd be.
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  13. godogs91

    godogs91 Well-Known Member

    It is almost like when people forget how to drive in the rain, or the snow...

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Butler Hoops mobile app
  14. bumba

    bumba Well-Known Member

    In this non-reality scenario, I'm thinking LJ would have been poached in June 2017 like when Bolt was. Beilein was still at Michigan then, so I would probably think about other BU alums who could have been considered.

    Micah could have been the front runner to get that imaginary job imo. He had been with the Celtics long enough for Barry to bring him back & get the buyout clause right. He was also interviewing for college HC jobs then (UMass interview was spring of 2017).
    bmradio99 likes this.
  15. BoyGeoff

    BoyGeoff Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Well said sir!

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  16. ButlerProf

    ButlerProf Active Member

    Thank you for this!!

    Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops mobile app
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  17. TheDawgDub95

    TheDawgDub95 Well-Known Member

    I have made no secret about my high expectations/aspirations for our program. I think LaVall is a great custodian of our program and a fantastic leader of young men. I believe our best chance, right now, of becoming a regular contender for the BEast and a top 15 program is with LaVall. With that said, the 3 -4 years following this one will be the proof. The 20 class could be with us for another 4 years and the 21 and 22 classes will have a chance to complement it, along with any transfers we might garner.

    On the other side of this coin, we have had to watch a lot of ugly basketball (the last 3 games have been a prime example, aside from two 6 minute spans). The ineptitude, at times, is hard to ignore, even within the context of what we have endured, but most solid, long-term strategies are going to have periods that test your convictions. This is why most people never stick with successful strategies and bounce from idea to idea. Recency bias is typically too strong for most not to be swayed.

    I am in the camp that LaVall is, more likely than not, going to be viewed as a really good coach 4 to 5 years from now. I'm not immune to questioning what I see from time to time, but this is still my belief. I do think it would be good for him to have a high level assistant, but there's nothing that says he and our current staff can't grow into that. I know I was better at what I do in my 10th year than I was in my 5th.

    Sent from my SM-G977U using Butler Hoops mobile app
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  18. dawgs2014

    dawgs2014 Well-Known Member

    Great post.

    If you look at what our team does pretty well, they protect the ball on offense, and defensive rebound. They’re not spectacular at either, but they’re solidly above average. For a team that’s undersized and young, these are impressive and important measures because they suggest that the team plays hard, and plays pretty smart/disciplined. The combination of those traits usually don’t happen for a team that is really poorly coached. DePaul for example, is really bad at both, and Georgetown turns it over a ton.

    Where we really struggle is making shots, particularly two pointers and free throws. Free throws I’m gonna throw out because that’s not an area where you see dramatic improvement, but shooting is. Being bad at scoring/shooting can be a product of a lot of things under the umbrella terms of either bad scorers, or a bad system.

    Last year on 3’s we shot 34.1%, this year on 3’s were shooting...34.1%. The difference is on 2 pt fg’s last year we shot 52.9% (46th nationally), and this year we’re shooting 45.6% (298 nationally). We’re also rebounding about 15% less of our own misses so we’re getting less shots.

    We know the system hasn’t changed from what was actually pretty effective last season, so it has to be the players. The most important factors in scoring are shooting, dribbling and passing-one of which is primarily a product of the system, and the other two are the easiest skills and also most likely to improve.

    Our play at times has been really bad. It’s important to remember though that last year we were the 31st most experienced team in the country and we are the 212th this year.

    Given that the biggest problems with our offense are the most improbable skills and we have a lot of time for a lot of players to improve, and we clearly play hard, the pieces are in place for the fix to take effect relatively rapidly.

    Sent from my iPhone using Butler Hoops
  19. ChiDawg3

    ChiDawg3 Well-Known Member

    Great point.
  20. BUcheer

    BUcheer Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Took a look at 2 point stats for AT, Golden and Nze—those 3 are taking 55% of 2’s.

    Nze and Golden both are making fewer 2’s with more attempts than last year.

    .463 ‘21
    .635 ‘20
    Per game:
    2P: 3.3 in ‘21/3.9 in ‘20.
    2PA: 7.2 in ‘21/6.1 in ‘20.

    .448 ‘21
    .578 ‘20
    Per game:
    2P: 3.1 in ‘21/2.9 in ‘20
    2PA: 6.9 in ‘21/5. in ‘20

    AT is up in both makes and takes: (which is ok as his % is up a smidge)
    .542 in ‘21
    .514 in ‘20
    Per game:
    2P: 4.5 in ‘21/2.7 in ‘20
    2PA: 8.3 in ‘21/5.3 in ‘20
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