INDIANAPOLIS, IN –Chris Holtmann, head coach of the Butler Bulldogs, has been selected as BIG EAST Coach of the Year. The BIG EAST Conference made the announcement on Wednesday (March 8) at a press conference at Madison Square Garden hours before the 2017 BIG EAST Tournament begins. The 10 BIG EAST coaches voted for the Coach of the Year.
Holtmann has led the Bulldogs to a 23-7 record, including a second-place finish in the BIG EAST based on the team’s 12-6 conference mark. Butler was picked sixth in the preseason league poll. This is Butler’s best conference finish since entering the BIG EAST four years ago. Holtmann has mentored three players who have earned All-BIG EAST honors this season: Senor F Andrew Chrabascz (All-BIG EAST First Team), junior F Kelan Martin (All-BIG EAST Second Team), and freshman G Kamar Baldwin (All-BIG EAST Freshman Team).
“I really wish this could be coaching staff/team of the year because Terry Johnson, Ryan Pedon, Mike Schrage, Emerson Kampen, Brandon Crone and our players deserve the credit for the season we have had up to this point,” said Holtmann. “It’s been so much fun to work alongside them this year.”
Holtmann owns a 68-29 record in his three seasons at Butler. The team has won at least 22 games each year. The 2016-17 team’s 23 wins are tied for the 11th-best single-season total in Butler history. Butler has been ranked in both the AP Top 25 and the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll each week since the Nov. 28 polls. The Bulldogs look to be assured of their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance under Holtmann.
“In a league of outstanding coaches and a year with so many terrific coaching jobs in the BIG EAST, it is an honor to be recognized by your peers,” said Holtmann. “I have so much respect for the job they do.”
Butler entered the week with 17 wins against teams currently ranked in the RPI Top 100 with nine of those wins coming against the Top 50. The 17 wins are tied with Villanova for the national lead. The Bulldogs have defeated Villanova twice this season (when the Wildcats were ranked #1/1 and #2/2, respectively). Butler is 6-2 against ranked teams this season, including a 5-1 record against teams that were ranked in the Top 15 at the time of the contest.
Holtmann, while at Gardner-Webb, was selected as the 2013 Big South Conference Coach of the Year. In his first season at Butler, Holtmann was selected as a finalist for both the Naismith and Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Awards. Butler’s win over Vermont on Dec. 21 was Holtmann’s 100th career win.
The last Butler coach to earn conference Coach of the Year honors was Brad Stevens, who was selected for the Horizon League accolades in 2010.
“Finally, I’d like to thank Barry Collier and President Danko for their outstanding leadership. I’d also like to thank our tremendous fans and all of those who have supported us this year. We are working hard to create more good memories this year.”
The #18/20 Butler Bulldogs open the 2017 BIG EAST Tournament on Thursday with a quarterfinals match-up against either No. 7 seed Xavier or No. 10 seed DePaul. Those two teams play Wednesday night. Butler’s Thursday night game at Madison Square Garden begins at 7 p.m. on FS1.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler Athletics and has full media access. Follow @CafultzISR and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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