Discover more from Fieldhouse Files with Scott Agness
If Butler wants to hire their own, Ronald Nored is just a short drive away
He is interested in the job and may be just the coach Butler needs to be a regular NCAA Tournament team again. His Pacers family would like to see it.
UPDATE: 11:21 a.m. on Apr. 3: Butler did hire their own, bringing back Thad Matta. A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday.
I was told on Friday that Matta, 54, was the favorite and it was just a matter of his physical health.
“The success that Thad has achieved at every one of his programs speaks for itself,” athletic director Barry Collier said in a news release. “He is a championship-caliber coach and recruiter who brings valuable experience and contagious energy to Butler. I have seen that personally in Thad as a player, assistant coach and head coach. The Matta Family – Thad, Barb, Ali and Emily – has a deep appreciation for Butler and I know they join all of the Butler community in how excited we are for what’s to come.”
The assistant coaching hires will be critical for success.
Matta, played college basketball at Butler and like Rick Carlisle with the Pacers, this will be his third stint with the program. He was the head coach there from 2000-01 before leaving for Xavier, then Ohio State.
He spent this past season as the athletic director for the Indiana University men’s basketball program under Mike Woodson.
A buyout was official on Friday and this was no April Fool’s joke: Butler moved on from LaVall Jordan as head basketball coach after five seasons.
They’re opening up a national search and if athletic director Barry Collier wants to keep it in the Butler family, as they tend to do, Pacers assistant coach (and Butler alum) Ronald Nored makes a lot of sense.
And there’s no need for a Zoom call, flight or even a change in address. He’s already here, in his first season as a Pacers assistant coach under Rick Carlisle.
“As talented a young coach as I've ever been around,” Carlisle told Fieldhouse Files. “With his knowledge of the game, ability to connect with people and head coaching experience, I certainly understand why they would have strong interest.”
Butler went 83-74 over the past five seasons with Jordan as head coach, including two difficult pandemic-impacted seasons. They reached the NCAA Tournament just once.
“After a thorough evaluation, I have come to the decision that a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program is needed,” Collier said. “These decisions are never easy, but are incredibly more difficult when it impacts a high-character Bulldog who has represented our university so well for many years. I want to thank LaVall for his dedication to our program, and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward.”
In the decade prior to his arrival in 2017, from 2007-2017, they reached the NCAA Tournament in nine of 11 years with the exceptions being 2012 and 2014.
Nored, who was at Butler from 2008-12, played a key role on those special teams — headlined by Gordon Hayward — that reached back-to-back national title games in 2010 and 2011.
During his senior season, he was a co-captain and named Butler's Most Outstanding Male Athlete.
Likely the first thing you see on Butler’s athletics website is not the logo, primary image or the headline to the featured story. In all uppercase letters across the top is “The Butler Way,” which was forged by former coach Tony Hinkle.
They’ve gone back to that well, hiring their own, for decades. From coaches Thad Matta to Todd Lickliter to Brad Stevens, Chris Holtmann and Jordan. Most have panned out. Brandon Miller and Jordan did not.
Some might push for them to truly have a national search and hire the best available. However, if they choose to stay in the Butler family, it doesn’t get much better than Nored — who is seriously interested in the job, league sources told Fieldhouse Files.
Among his biggest mentors is former Butler head coach Brad Stevens, now in his first season as Celtics president of basketball operations. And coincidentally, the Butler job became available on April 1 when the Pacers are in Boston to play the Celtics.
It is Stevens who helped recruit Nored to Butler. He later brought him to the professional ranks to work in player development and assist in coaching the Celtics' G League team, then the Maine Red Claws.
Stevens’ wife, Tracy, is on the Butler Board of Trustees.
Nored, 32, knew he wanted to coach so he agreed to become the boys basketball coach at Brownsburg High School before he had even graduated. He has since coached at every level: high school, college, G League and in the NBA.
“The next head coach for Butler has to be Ronald Nored!” wrote Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce, who has coached in the NBA since 2007. “Former star PG who led BUTLER to the championship game! Let’s get this done! He’s the next star coach.”
Myles Turner also spoke up and backed Nored for this special job.
And later, guard T.J. McConnell shared his thoughts on Instagram. “Ronald Nored needs to be the next head coach at Butler. One of the best guys I’ve ever been around. He’s a great coach and an ever better person!! Players will love playing for him!!”
Before joining Carlisle's staff this season, Nored spent three seasons as an assistant for the Charlotte Hornets under James Borrego. And last season, Hayward was reunited with his college roommate when he joined the Hornets.
“I think it really settled Gordon entering our program to have a familiar face, someone that he trusted and he could go to,” Borrego said earlier this season. “To me it looked like they were back at Butler — having fun, talking mess, shooting games. Ron was a big part of getting Gordon there and making him feel comfortable in Charlotte and in our program.”
The number one thing Nored focuses on is relationships because if they aren’t strong with players and staff, you won’t succeed. Simple as that. He’s empathetic and strikes the right tone.
He’s mostly known for defense because that was his specialty at Butler, but he’s coached both sides of the ball in the NBA. He’s not afraid to speak up and share his opinion.
He worked closely with Kelan Martin, a fellow Butler grad who was a member of the Pacers for parts of the last two years. But it’s mostly the point guards Nored has connected with, guys like Malcolm Brogdon and Tyrese Haliburton.
He works with them before every game during the individual shooting period, hours before the game. And now with Haliburton, they then watch video on his laptop an hour before tipoff.
“What I enjoy about him is his honesty,” Haliburton said. “He’s willing to tell the truth, how he feels about things and what he sees. I’m the same way. If he sees something, I know he was a point guard before and played at a high level. There’s times where he’ll tell me things that I don’t agree with and we’re able to have those conversations. It’s a great relationship that I’m thankful to have.”
For most players in the Big East (or considering schools like Butler), there’s a lot of thought given to whether they can play at the next level. Nored will know and he can get them direct answers from coaches and executives in the NBA because he’s been there and has seen what it takes.
At the least, a conversation with Nored would be valuable to discuss the state of the program and what it will take to be relevant once again.
No matter where he is, Nored is watching his Bulldogs and rooting from afar.
To learn more about him, watch this feature from his time as a G League head coach.