INDIANAPOLIS (November 10, 2015) -- Sitting in his office inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, Chris Holtmann seems at ease. He's coaching at a school he loves, a school that last March rewarded him with a long-term contract extension that'll keep him at Butler through the 2020-21 season.
Oh and by the way, he has a preseason Top 25 team ready to get started on Saturday.
"I think our guys have had about them the mindset that we're just going to try and improve every day," Holtmann says. "Hopefully with that, as simple as it sounds, we'll be able to reach this team's potential."
One year ago, Holtmann was thrust into a challenging situation. Brandon Miller was granted a medical leave of absence, forcing Holtmann into the role of head coach. All he did was lead the Bulldogs to 23 wins and a near berth in the Sweet 16.
Now, as he gets ready to open his second season as head coach of the Bulldogs, Holtmann says there's a stronger familiarity between he and his players.
"They hopefully know our expectations and our philosophy. They're really aligned with the expectations and the philosophies that a number of coaches have had here for a number of years," Holtmann says. "Hopefully we can be about achievement on a day-to-day basis."
When Butler tips-off the season Saturday vs. The Citadel, it'll do so with its top three scorers back from last season. Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Chrabascz form the nucleus of a Bulldogs team picked to finish third in the Big East.
"Those guys, they embody the Butler Way in so many ways," Holtmann says. "They're team first guys, and they really are. It's not something that we just say about those guys because it sounds right to say. They really are about the Butler Way, and they're team first guys."
Holtmann hopes those three -- and others, including new point guard and NC State transfer Tyler Lewis -- can help lead Butler back to the NCAA Tournament. It would be the Bulldogs eighth trip to the Big Dance in the last ten years.