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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Basketball head Chris Holtmann embracing Lincoln Park, clean slate

Ryan Hinske
DePaul head coach Chris Holtmann, right, talks to Dibs with DeWayne Peevy on Monday, March 18, 2024, at Wintrust Arena during his welcoming press conference. Holtmann’s plans for the team’s future was the main topic of discussion at the press conference.

Two months into his tenure as DePaul’s men’s basketball head coach, Chris Holtmann has been preparing for life in Chicago.

“It’s been great,” Holtmann said. “It’s different than what I’ve been used to over the course of my coaching career. I haven’t lived in a city as big as Chicago.”

After coaching in Columbus at Ohio State University for six full seasons and in Indianapolis at Butler University for three, Holtmann, his wife Lori and daughter Nora will be moving to Lincoln Park in July, close to campus, so they can have players over for meals.

“That was something that he and Lori talked about in the recruitment process,” DeWayne Peevy, director of athletics, said, adding that the neighborhood’s walkability was another advantage Holtmann mentioned. “He didn’t know much about Lincoln Park at all … and I think once he came to campus and got to walking around Lincoln Park, that became very appealing to him.”

Holtmann said he has learned the most about what the university means to Chicago from DePaul alumni.

“The pride they have, the hunger and motivation they have for DePaul to be relevant in college basketball,” Holtmann said. “I think that’s really exciting … I continue to learn what makes this place unique and special, and there have been a lot of really great conversations I’ve had around that here these past two months.”

Though he knows DePaul has been a struggling program, mentioning they have the longest postseason drought of any power conference men’s basketball program, Holtmann believes he has plenty of resources at his disposal.

“I think there is a real understanding that Wintrust (Arena) has been a really good addition for DePaul.”

DePaul does not have space on campus for a basketball arena, but Holtmann believes Wintrst has the perfect size and setup to make up for it.

“It is a great facility and a great size, and it has the basketball amenities there that make it a terrific home environment,” Holtmann said. “Would you like to have it a little bit closer to where your students could get there and all those things easier? Yes, but this has been a really good change from those of us that back in the day remember playing DePaul in what was considered back then Allstate Arena.”

Holtmann found himself in a unique position upon taking the DePaul job, starting with zero players on the roster.

“It was a lot of fun to think about – how did we want to build a roster in this new era?” he said. “Who was going to jump on board and say, ‘Hey, we want to be a part of the rebirth of DePaul basketball?’”

Though going from zero players to 14 in just a few months was a challenge, Holtmann is excited about the group he has constructed.

“You never know for sure exactly what it’s gonna look like because you’re in a situation where you can know a lot about players, but there’s still some things you have to address here,” he said. “But it’s a really exciting group.”

While some expected Holtmann to secure transfers from Ohio State, Holtmann did not. He talked to all of the Buckeye players, but in most cases, it just was not the right fit for both parties.

“All those guys, I love them,” Holtmann said, referring to these former players. “When you’re in my situation, you look at it almost like a parent in those situations where you’re like, ‘this is one of my sons.’”

Along with a completely new roster, Holtmann has constructed an almost entirely new coaching staff. Despite the turnover, Holtmann’s group possesses a unique statistic: they are the only college basketball staff with five coaches with D1 or NBA G-League head coaching experience.

“There’s all kinds of connections throughout the staff even if we haven’t all worked together, so it feels like we have (worked together),” said assistant coach Lavall Jordan, who replaced Holtmann as head coach when he went to Ohio State.

Jordan named all the connections of the coaching staff and how they all came together, from coaching in the same conference against each other to mutual connections through the likes of another Butler coach: Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens.

Fans don’t know what to expect from Holtmann’s completely new roster and coaching staff, but he has a simple plan for year one: get the fans to expect competitiveness.

“What I believe we’ll do is establish a way in which we want to play and compete on a night-in, night-out basis,” Holtmann said. “If we do that, whatever comes out of that will be something we’ll feel really good about.”

Peevy said he and Holtmann are on the same page when it comes to the goals of the program.

“I want to know our identity,” Peevy said. “I want to know who we are. I want to establish the culture that we’re putting in place so that we can add to it and take steps forward, and I think there’s been some synergy in that.”

Peevy expects that with a month remaining in the 2024-25 season, DePaul will still have a chance to be playing in the postseason, which would be the NCAA Tournament, National Invitation Tournament or Fox Sports & AEG’s new College Basketball Crown. The season begins in early November, but Holtmann and his family will first join the Lincoln Park community for their first summer in the Windy City.

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