Before this past week, I was more confident about Butler's chances in competing this year than most. Kellen Dunham emerged as a top-tier scoring threat last season, Roosevelt Jones was coming back from a severe wrist injury that cost him the entire 2013-2014 season, things were on the up and up for the Bulldogs. Then the news came out that Brandon Miller was taking an indefinite medical leave of absence from the team. Taking all this into account, Butler's best case scenario becomes winning between 16-18 games this season, finishing right around the .500 mark
Brandon Miller, in the short time we have seen him as a head coach, has not proven to be a game-changer. That's not why this prediction is happening. It is more because when you have to bring in a new coach the month before the season starts, even if he's a member of the outgoing coach's staff, there are bound to be philosophical differences. Chris Holtmann is probably the best guy for the job, as he has previous head coaching experience at Gardner-Webb, but there are still differences that the Bulldogs could take a while to adjust to. Is it possible they adjust with ease and Holtmann leads this team to the NCAA Tournament? Sure. But I think my best case scenario is much more realistic.
Of course, we also need to have a worst case scenario. Butler, like DePaul, is an interesting case. Because if they end up firing Miller, would the fanbase necessarily see it as a worst case scenario? Miller could take some time to get his health in order, and the Bulldogs could get a redo on their coaching hire, which initially raised some eyebrows. Miller is a precarious situation to say the least. I think, however, Butler's worst case scenario would be a repeat of last season. Finishing 4-14 in Big East play, finishing dead last in scoring (68.5, a full point worse than DePaul), and finishing second to last in three point percentage (.323) is not the Butler we have seen this decade. Brad Stevens' teams thrived on their three-point shooting. If the Bulldogs finish last in scoring again, there will certainly be a lot of changes that need to be made.
Butler has proven in the past that they can shock the world. Will they be able to do it again this year? Time will tell.
Do you agree with my best and worst case scenarios for the Butler Bulldogs? Let me know in the comments!