Coaching search profile: Chris Holtmann

  • 03/21/2017 11:20 am in

After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head coach and the search for his replacement is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile some of the candidates who are being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our seventh profile takes a closer look at Butler coach Chris Holtmann.

While he was snubbed on a few national coach of the year award finalist lists, there’s no disputing the work Chris Holtmann has done this season at Butler. He’s done a remarkable job.

The Bulldogs went 23-7 in the regular season and earned a No. 4 in the South Region of the NCAA tournament. Holtman was named Big East coach of the year for his efforts.

With just one McDonald’s All-American (Tyler Lewis) on the roster, Butler had no problem competing in one of the nation’s premier leagues. The Bulldogs beat Northwestern, Arizona and Vanderbilt in November. Butler followed up those wins with a victory over Cincinnati on Dec. 10 and a win over Indiana in later in the month at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the Crossroads Classic. It was a loss that started the downfall for the Hoosiers as Big Ten play approached.

In league play, Butler beat defending national champion Villanova twice and is now in the Sweet Sixteen. On Friday, Butler will have a shot at No. 1 seed North Carolina in Memphis.

A native of Nicholasville, Kentucky who played at Taylor University, Holtmann took over for Brandon Miller in the October of 2014 on an interim basis. He was named the permanent head coach in January of 2015. Butler hasn’t skipped a beat since. The program faltered briefly under Miller, but Holtmann has restored much of what had Butler rolling under Stevens.

Before coming to Butler as an assistant coach, Holtmann spent three seasons at Gardner-Webb and was named Big South coach of the year in 2013. His name has come up with other openings, but Holtmann seems happy at Butler.

The program has high expectations based on its recent success, but given the foundation built before him under Stevens, Butler is a program that can compete nationally and recruits very well to a system.

The Bulldogs are now in the Big East, enjoy great fan support and have a great facility in Hinkle Fieldhouse. The question is: Would Holtmann turn down big money if it’s offered to leave Butler? As good as that job is, the compensation isn’t nearly what a top 15 job would pay.

In terms of recruiting, moving to Indiana would be a step up for Holtmann. Would he be able to bring in the five-star talent that Hoosier fans expect year-in and year-out? It’s a fair question.

Final Analysis: Holtmann is young enough at 45 that he could be a long term solution if he were interesting in making the jump to Bloomington. And there’s a segment of fans who would like to see the “Butler Way” replicated in Bloomington.

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  • pcantidote

    He is admittedly intriguing. He surprisingly doesn’t have that long of a coaching history. He turned GW around and in my opinion has Butler overachieving. I couldn’t argue with it. I think Brad Stevens might lose some sleep if some other Butler coach got the job ;).

  • TomJameson

    I would be happy with Holtmann. I think he’s a “Stevens in the making”. He may not be the top of my list, but he is tied at 2nd place with about 3-4 others. 🙂

  • iugradmark

    He would be a great hire but I wonder if IU is too focused on doing something to make a splash. This is the kind of coaching hire that a team like Wisky would make. Solid track record, coaches fundamentals, recruits locally, etc. He would be very successful at IU.

  • N71

    I could live with Holtmann if that was the direction we went here in the coming weeks/months.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    All of this is exhausting me.

  • Jeff Crowder


  • IU1972

    Yes. The Butler way has been kicking the IU way’s flabby backside dating back several years.

  • My god, I was JUST coming to this one to make essentially the same comment.

  • I’m just about ready to just let things go and see how they turn out. No way I’ll last like this through the NBA season, if it ends up being someone with that timing. The coach will get selected, and until then there’s so little we know that I’m driving myself crazy going through candidates in my brain. I can think of a few who I wouldn’t like (Alford, Bennett) but otherwise all of the candidates being discussed would be an upgrade in my book.

    Gotta go make money, so I’m going to try to limit my commenting here — although in that respect I feel a tiny bit like a crack addict. Not trying to diminish or disrespect in any way the horrible experience of being a crack addict.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Yes! All this stress while we watch recruited IU players ask for releases from commitments. And wondering what current players are going to bolt for pros or transfer… not a fun portion of the off-season.

  • Rick Pearson

    Personally I think Indiana Needs to forget the Billy Donavan experiment with the Spring signing period right around the corner we need a Coach this would be a great hire Xavier head coach would also be a great hire

  • mckillio

    “in my opinion has Butler overachieving”, This, this is what we should be looking for in a coach.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    The ITH writers, Alex, etc, must of either lost 30 lbs from not eating or gained 30 lbs from increased drinking. Either way they must be exhausted also.

  • StudentHoosier

    Funny story about Holtmann,
    Last summer I went to an Indy Indians game (great way to spend a Friday night) and CH threw out the first pitch. His family was there and everything, and he seemed to have a great time doing it. Midway through the actual game, I noticed that his seats actually weren’t too far from mine. So between innings I sat in an open seat next to him and started talking to him. Behind the Hoosiers, I’m also a huge Bulldog fan, so I thanked him for everything he’s done and told him how great it’s been watching Butler since he took over. He was one of the most genuine, down to earth “celebrities” I’ve ever met. He was incredibly nice and clearly loved Butler.

    As far as his chances for coming to IU…. I just don’t really see it happening. He has no connections to the school or state other than playing for and coaching a team nearby. He’s been killing it since he took over, and it’s looking like Butler will just keep getting better. I would also selfishly kind of dislike it because it would leave my Dogs searching. Oh well, we’ll see. He is a great coach and a great person.

  • cbags05

    The rate of typos is increasing. I gotta think they are about zombies by now.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    this piece brings up an interesting question. do we want a system guy (i.e. stevens, ryan, etc..)? or do we want a mega recruiter (cal, self, k)? my answer would be a combination of both, but trying to think of an example. nova maybe? jay wright? not sure how many 5-stars he normally gets

  • That part of the off-season was going to be tough no matter what, so for me it’s about what I expected.

  • Tom Judkins

    I was a freshman at IU in 1976 and life long fan of the program. I agree with most of your analogy especially replicating the Butler way which requires players to fit a specific role on the team no more or no less. That philosophy sounds familiar to me, sound familiar to anyone else? Bob Knight accomplished a lot with the same principals and did so with a minimal number of what is referred to today as a “five star” recruits. So as an Indiana fan, I am more interested in seeing a consistent, cohesive game plan that produces great results every year rather than every other year. Do this and sprinkle in the right 5 star recruit like Isaiah and you have a winning formula for a program that can easily pull this off with its tradition and intrastate drawing power.

  • IULore

    If bob knight was 40 years old I wouldn’t want him in today’s game.

  • Bnkepner00

    If things don’t work out either Donovan, Holtmann and Chris Mack are my next choices. Both may not have many connections to the state but both recruit the area well. Im really high on Holtmann and I think if we don’t go for him we will regret it in a few years.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I think if there is anything about the “Butler Way” that we should emulate, it is how they hire a new HC. They really haven’t missed yet, except for Miller and the circumstances were unusual in that instance. Barry Collier, Thad Matta, Todd Licklighter, Brad Stevens, Brandon Miller and Chris Holtmann. What all of those guys have in common is that they were up-and-coming young coaches with minimal (if any) HC resume.

    Personally, I don’t believe Holtmann checks enough boxes for the IU job. He’s done well at Butler, but when you drill down into the numbers, they’ve done about what they should have done each year in March. He plays a very slow tempo (fastest was 182nd). I wouldn’t be upset, if Holtmann was the guy, but I don’t think he makes the Top 5 for me.

  • Blair McKee

    I honestly don’t think he could fit into an IU. I think he likes the smaller school feel. And he’s only just begun recruiting there. His real classes are still coming!
    I also think he likes coaching his type of player and IU wins with athletic talent, size and deep threes.
    He could succeed at IU,

  • aHoopandaPrayer

    He’s a bright young coach, having a good year. But the resume is lackluster. Hasn’t trained under an elite coach and has never won a conference regular season.

  • Fifer39

    Just been reading reading all your comments on the TC thread. You’re not doing a great job of kicking the habit, LOL!

  • Fifer39

    Got a lot of funny stories about the coaching candidates, don’tcha? 😉

  • Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…

    Damn email notifications.

  • pcantidote

    Photo caption contest. Enter yours below:

  • pcantidote

    “I make TWO Butler coaches you wish you could have but cannot. Woo woo!!”

  • Atha Wayne Belsha

    I think he would be a great hire.

  • I’m in on Holtmann.

    I also like the idea of Fife, someone who played here and would be easily dismissed if things didn’t go well (especially if Stevens has a couple bad seasons in Boston).

  • John D Murphy

    Alex, thanks for all your work. I hope the list FG has closely resembles yours.

  • Tom Judkins

    The reference to coach Knight was to demonstrate that like Butler, Gonzaga and Wisconsin for instance; you do not have to recruit all top 100 recruits to build a consistent and successful program like Indiana did under his leadership.

  • Outoftheloop

    Better than White, Fife, etc.