Jags Hire Butler Associate Head Coach Matthew Graves

March 25, 2013 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's 
USA announced the hiring of Matthew Graves as the programs 10th head basketball coach on Monday. Graves was the associate head coach for Butler since 2010 as they went to the NCAA Championship game in 2010 and 2011. Photo by butler.edu.

USA announced the hiring of Matthew Graves as the programs 10th head basketball coach on Monday.  Photo by butler.edu.

The University of South Alabama announced the hiring of a coach to take over the Men’s basketball program on Monday. Dr. Joel Erdmann, Athletics Director at South Alabama announced the hiring of Butler associate head coach Matthew Graves as the Jags 10th head basketball coach.

Graves hopes to duplicate some of the NCAA tournament success Butler has enjoyed over the recent years. And Graves does not think that winning will take long for the Jags in the Sun Belt conference. That was his message tot he team prior to Monday’s new conference as well.

“We’re here next year to compete for a championship,” Graves said. “This is not a rebuilding process. This is not a reloading process. This is a process that we’re going to have sustained success starting next year. That is the goal from Day one. We’re going to put a team out there that everyone’s going to be proud of on and off the court.”

He replaces Ronnie Arrow who retired 10 games into the season as the programs winningest coach and the winningest coach in the Sun Belt after surpassing Gene Bartow earlier in the season. Arrow has since been overtaken by Kermit Davis of Middle Tennessee for the conference’s winningest coach.

Associate head coach Jeff Price filled in as interim head coach the rest of the season and led the Jags to a 12-8 record during his tenure and a #3 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament but fell to eventual champion Western Kentucky in the quarterfinals. The Jags then fell to Tulane in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Graves has been an assistant coach at Butler for nine seasons and was promoted to associate head coach in 2010. During both the 2010 and 2011 seasons Butler made it to the NCAA championship game. However they lost to Marquette in the second round of the NCAA tournament this season.

Graves played for Butler from 1993-1998 and was a member of the program’s first NCAA tournament team in 35 years. He was voted the teams Most Valuable Player as a senior by leading the team to a second consecutive tournament appearance. He still ranks in the top 10 in career 3-pointers and three throw shooting.

Graves did not know much about South Alabama until he got the first email from Dr. Erdmann about the opening. But he came away impressed with the peoplee and the facilities. “I didn’t know a lot about South Alabama except for that moment before I looked into it,” Graves told ESPN.com. “People ask why South Alabama? Why would a Midwest guy want to go to South Alabama. When I came down to look at campus, I was sold right away. I understood there was some history here, good tradition. The Mitchell Center is a phenomenal facility to recruit to.”

Dr. Erdmann was sold on Graves after the interview. “If you look at coach Graves’ background and the world that he has lived in over the past decade-plus, what they have been able to accomplish at an institution that is not too dissimilar from one of ours is nothing short of spectacular,” Erdmann said to ESPN.com. “The resume got him an interview. The resume and the accomplishments got him involved in the search, but the interview landed the job.”

“He is a man that when you get to know him, you will understand and appreciate why this decision was made. He is a tremendous basketball person. He lives the game. He understands the game. He knows how to teach the game. He knows how to recruit and he knows how to create a program that will have a sustained level of success.”

Brad Stevens, Butler’s head coach and Graves’ former mentor, is happy for him. “I could not be more thrilled for both Matthew and South Alabama. He is a terrific person and coach, who will undoubtedly bring great credit to the university,” Stevens said. “He’s an excellent communicator who understands what it takes to win at the highest level. We thank him for the 17 total years he spent at Butler as a player and staff member. He had a tremendous impact on Butler basketball.”

The news also excited the Jaguars fan base. Many were thinking that Price might get the position after what he was able to do with the program after Arrow’s retirement. However they believe Erdmann hit it out of the park with the hiring of Graves. Price has already been mentioned for other positions.

Price stepped into a difficult situation and did a good job despite losing probably the programs best shooter in Xavier Roberson to off-the-court problems and Freddie Goldstein to a broken collarbone. But the Jags managed to grind out wins but with their thin ranks and opponent’s attention on Augustine Rubit, the Jags could not get wins the conference tournament nor could they get a win in the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

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