MATTHEW VANTRYON | SPORTS EDITOR
Butler men’s basketball players and coaches expressed concern for head coach Brandon Miller after their first team practice Saturday morning. Butler University athletic director Barry Collier announced in a press release Thursday afternoon that Miller was taking a medical leave of absence.
“First and foremost, our thoughts are with Coach Miller and his family, that’s most important,” said Chris Holtmann, interim head coach. “Butler is about people, and that is what’s most important.”
Holtmann said while he found out the news slightly before the players did, he was still shocked.
“We obviously knew that he wasn’t feeling well. I think we were all concerned and surprised,” Holtmann said.
Assistant coach Michael Lewis, who has been with the program since 2011, said his thoughts are with Miller and his family.
“You worry about the health of Brandon for his family, and you want for everything to be OK,” he said. “Then you immediately turn your attention to the team and how you get these guys ready for the season.”
Junior Kellen Dunham, who will be playing for his third head coach in as many seasons at Butler, said the players were blindsided by the news.
“We didn’t get any forewarning,” he said. “It just kind of happened. We have him in our prayers.”
Freshman Jackson Davis is a member of Miller’s first recruiting class. Davis said Holtmann was actively involved in his recruitment, and Davis is not concerned about the change.
“My initial thoughts were making sure he and his family were OK,” he said. “I knew whoever they put in charge was going to do a good job and get the job done just as well.”
Junior Roosevelt Jones, who sat out last season with a wrist injury, said the team is not going to use the change as an excuse.
“We still have the same teammates, and we all come together and play as one group,” he said. “We still play the same way. We’re going to come together and play hard.”
Miller replaced current Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens in July 2013, and was 14-17 in his first year as head coach at Butler last season.
Collier declined to comment on Miller’s health further than the press release.
Ohio State University, where Miller was an assistant coach from 2009-2011, also declined to comment.