It’s the month of April. Usually this time of year is for MLB Opening Day, NBA/NHL Playoffs, the NFL Draft, and more. I’m not thinking about any of that at this very moment writing this in Downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana.
I’m thinking about Butler Basketball.
Yes, pondering a team that has not been good enough to make the NIT in the last two years. Times are different right now at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Thad Matta is back home.
I said this with Bob Lovell on Indiana Sports Talk last week, but LaVall Jordan will always be a Butler Bulldog. He was a tremendous ambassador for the University, and unfortunately for him, his best Butler team that could have made a deep March run was halted and stopped due to COVID.
A sad thought, but that’s how it goes sometimes in College Hoops.
Matta coached Jordan in his one year at the helm of the Butler program in 2000-01. Now, he replaces him on the sidelines.
What Matta has already done in his week or so back on campus is noticeable. His first press conference sent shivers down my spine, and certainly for other Butler fans too. The things that Thad said are just things that have not been present at Hinkle in the last couple of years.
Butler can be a program that moves the needle. We’ve clearly seen that before, especially in 2010 and 2011. Matta being back in Indy will do that again. Of course though, in the Big East, it takes a lot more than just an experienced and talented coach.
For those concerned about recruiting, Matta showed this week he still has the magic touch. Akron transfer Ali Ali is heading to Butler, and per reports, it may be the landing spot for former Indiana Hoosier Rob Phinisee.
Now that would be something.
Not only does Matta want to prove to himself that he can still handle the grind of coaching in a power-5 college basketball spectrum, he wants to show it to the world. What will the Bulldogs be like in 2022-23? The answer is unknown.
Butler at one point over the last month had at least six open scholarships. That’s a whole starting line-up plus a sixth man that Matta can bring in. When October and November rolls around, you may not be able to immediately recognize the names on the back of Butler jerseys. But you will be reminded of something extremely important.
The Butler Way.