April 4th, 2007.
At 12 years of age, I was too young to really gather the process of searching for a new head coach, let alone care who the front-running candidate was going to be. Yet, nevertheless, in fewer than three days time from Todd Lickliter departing Butler for Iowa, Barry Collier named then-Assistant Coach Brad Stevens as the new face of “The Butler Way”.
You know the rest of the story, Stevens leads little Butler from Horizon League puppy to full-grown Bulldog, by taking the team to unbelievable heights-2 straight National Championship Game appearances (including the Hayward Heave that almost went down) and two new conferences(Horizon to A10 to Big East..no big deal)-in the process. Oh and he became the winningest coach in through his first six seasons in NCAA History.
How would you like to replace that guy?
Well fortunately you won’t have too..
…so long as the rumors are true that Brandon Miller and LaVall Jordan are the front runners to replace Stevens.
That being said, in the battle of Miller vs Jordan (in case you haven’t been paying attention it’s Brandon vs LaVall not Reggie vs Michael) I’m on the side of LaVall Jordan…
…But just who is he? And why, at the end of the day, should you be in his corner too?
Simple: Recruiting and Experience
From first glance at his full bio located here via the University of Michigan’s website what really jumps out at you is his style of coaching.
From MGoBlue.com: “Jordan will be one of U-M’s top recruiters and coach the Maize and Blue backcourt players, while continuing to help in the development of defensive strategies, scouting opponents and on-court coaching.”
The latter portions of his description emulate the exact method of pure “Butler Way” that Stevens made a name for himself with; developing defensive strategies, scouting the competition, and providing solid on-court coaching.
And bear in mind that was all as an assistant.
If that doesn’t immediately sell you, then look at the only two names you need to know from a development standpoint; Darius Morris and Trey Burke.
For Morris, LaVall helped mold him into the 2011 Big Ten All-Team selection that he was as well as the Los Angeles Laker that he is today.
And then he helped further the growth of that Trey Burke fellow…where have I heard that name before….oh yea that’s right the 2013 Consensus National Player of the Year! How could I forget?
I know I know, still not sold? I get that, I mean developing top-tier talent and guiding a program back to a place that they hadn’t been to in 20 years is pretty low-key.
Well here’s “the mini cherry on top of the regular cherry on top of the sundae of awesomeness that is”(credit that to Barney Stinson) LaVall Jordan’s resume, which is the one word we haven’t mentioned since the early stages of this post:
Brad Stevens was excellent at finding the right guys to fit his system…but he is gone…and in a conference like the Big East where recruiting is the heartbeat to a program’s success, the Bulldogs can’t afford to fall behind any further.
Jordan will bring the players that nobody thought Butler could ever obtain, solely based on his resume.
This is the signing that might make guys like Trevon Bluiett and Trey Lyles reconsider dumping Butler on their final list of schools.
But here’s the real kicker: Bluiett and Lyles will be the first of many who will flock to Butler for three reasons and three reasons alone: Tradition. Big East Membership. and a Strong Leader.
The Bulldogs have two of the three, and are one call away from locking up that final piece they so desperately search for.
LaVall Jordan is that piece for all of these reasons listed above, but also for one thing that all Hinkle Faithful can appreciate. He’s a member of the Butler Family, and he knows “The Butler Way” well.
A)A starting guard for Butler from 1998-2001 registering three Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament titles, two MCC regular-season championships, three NCAA Tourney Appearances (including the Bulldogs first Big Dance win in 39 years), a MCC tournament MVP in 2001, and at one point was the winningest player in Butler history at 91 career wins.
B) Four years along side Lickliter from 2003-2007 culminating in a 29-7 Horizon League Regular Season Title sharing campaign, capped with a loss in the Sweet 16 to eventual champion Florida.
C)Three more years (2007-2010) still along side Lickliter during his time at Iowa.
The above adds up to LaVall Jordan being the prime example of a coach with the defining “Butler Way” characteristic that Barry Collier is searching for.
Now just pick up the phone and call him before I do…or worse…before Danny Ainge reads this and tries to add him on as an assistant.