Brad Stevens

Butler v Marquette

Brad Stevens supports Butler and Chris Holtmann, sympathizes with Brandon Miller

Leave a comment

Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are in Indianapolis for a Friday night matchup with the Indiana Pacers.

The former Butler head coach returned to the school he brought to back-to-back Final Fours earlier in the day, according to the Indy Star. Stevens was attending a retirement ceremony for Butler’s longtime sports information director Jim McGrath.

Since Stevens’ jump to the NBA in July 2013, the program has entered the Big East Conference, and is currently on its second different head coach. Former Butler guard Brandon Miller was tabbed as Stevens’ successor, serving as head coach for one season. He took a leave of absence on October 2, leaving his duties to assistant coach Chris Holtmann.

After guiding the Bulldogs to an 11-4 start, which included a win over then-No. 5 North Carolina, Holtmann had his interim tag removed and agreed to a multi-year contract with the university. In his first game as the permanent head coach, Butler knocked off No. 15 St. John’s on the road.

On Friday, Stevens discussed the state of the program with Curt Cavin of the Indy Star. The Celtics coach remains a follower, even from afar.

“First and foremost, my heart and my sympathies are with Brandon and his family,” Stevens told Cavin. “I’m very excited that they had a person like Chris there (on staff) and the staff that was there with (assistant coaches) Michael Lewis and Terry Johnson. Those guys who were there with me really handled a tough situation fantastic, and I’m really happy that’s going to be a long-term thing now with Chris at the helm.

“I thought all those guys did just a marvelous job. I’m happy for them and you can bet I want them to beat ‘X’ (Xavier) tomorrow.”

This may have been a homecoming of sorts for Stevens, but he has been a topic of discussion a month ago, when he had to shoot down speculation that he could take over at Indiana, given the extended rebuilding process going on in Boston following the Rajon Rondo trade.

Stevens is in the second year of a six-year deal with Boston. Tom Crean, in his seventh season in Bloomington, has the Hoosiers 11-4 on the season.

Brad Stevens on Indiana speculation: ‘I’m the head coach of the Boston Celtics. This is the job.’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s no escaping it.

Brad Stevens is going to be continually linked to the Indiana head coaching job. The last rumblings of Stevens’ potential return to the college ranks surfaced in Paul Flannery’s Sunday Shootaround column for SB Nation.

The latest speculation is a product of Boston’s blockbuster trade with the Dallas Mavericks early this week, sending All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to the Mavs for Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder and draft picks. The trade makes the rebuilding process an even longer one. The Celtics sport one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and the growing pains are obvious with fourth quarter collapse after fourth quarter collapse this season.

However, an even longer rebuilding effort in the post-Rondo era isn’t enough to lure Stevens back to college coaching.

“I’ve committed to being here,” Stevens told Flannery before Thursday’s practice. “I’ve already left a situation once and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to choose to do. This is something that as long as they want me to be here, this is what I want to be doing and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I know it’s all specific to the rumor mills and the discussion of one spot. I think they’ve got a good coach who’s done a helluva job. He doesn’t deserve that speculation.

“I’m the head coach of the Boston Celtics. This is the job. This is where I am. This is what I want to do really well and I’m committed to being as good as I can every single day for the Celtics.”

The Celtics faith in Stevens was evident when they offered him a six-year contract in the summer of 2013. And from the quotes provided by Gregg Popvich and Kevin Love, Stevens is widely-respected by both future Hall of Famers and perennial NBA All-Stars.

Tom Crean is in his seventh season, although, the Hoosier faith have turned sour on him. Indiana has made only two NCAA tournament appearances, being bounced in the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed in 2013. The Hoosiers missed the postseason a season ago. The boiling point was this fall, when off-the-court issues, mixed with low expectations entering this year had many in the state calling for his job.

Through 11 games, Indiana is 9-2, fresh off a neutral site win over No. 23 Butler in the Crossroads Classic. While Indiana’s NCAA tournament status is still uncertain, Stevens sounds confident that his only return to the Hoosier state will be when the Celtics travel to Indianapolis to play the Pacers.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens visits former Butler forward Andrew Smith

Brad Stevens
1 Comment

In one of the more surprising moves of the summer, Brad Stevens left his post at Butler University to take the Boston Celtics coaching vacancy.

Andrew Smith played four years for Stevens, helping the Bulldogs appear in the NCAA tournament three times, averaging averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in his career.

On Friday, it was announced that the former Butler forward was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, discovered while he was playing overseas with BC Neptunas in Lithuania.

Stevens, in the middle of a 19-34 season with the Celtics, took time to travel to Zionsville, Ind. to visit Smith and his wife Samantha. According to Zak Keefer, this isn’t the first time Stevens has taken time to visit former players.

It’s one thing to send well wishes, but it’s another to take time out of a busy schedule, from a demanding job. “Once a Butler Bulldog, always a Bulldog,” as tweeted by Samantha Smith pretty much sums up Stevens and his connection to the university.

[h/t Indianapolis Star]

Assigned Reading: An inside look at Brad Stevens’ decision to leave Butler

Butler v Marquette
Leave a comment

One of the moments this offseason that startled the college basketball world was Brad Stevens’ decision on July 3 to leave Butler for the Boston Celtics, taking over for Doc Rivers as the leader of one of sports’ most storied franchises. But for all the attention that head coaching moves garner, rarely do we get to take an inside look at the decision-making process and the resulting emotions.

Zack Keefer of the Indianapolis Star put together a five-part story on that July day, giving readers a look into all aspect of the move. Viewpoints of the assistants who suddenly found themselves being interviewed for the open position, the players who would find out that the man they committed to play for would no longer be coaching them and athletic director Barry Collier are among the angles provided by Keefer.

So as Stevens sat in his office, telling him he’d accepted the Celtics offer, Collier knew the cold reality: A counteroffer did not exist.

Instead of raises or incentives or a new contract, they reminisced. To Stevens’ right hung a framed photo from the 2010 national championship game in Indianapolis, a memento of the unforgettable rise they shared. Before long, both were in tears.

“I had never seen Brad like that,” Collier says. “It was very, very emotional for both of us. And still is.”

The link to the series can be found here.

Turning Cinderella runs into recruiting success is key for mid-majors

VCU v Michigan
Leave a comment

Any coach can put together the right game-plan, taking enough advantage of mismatches and getting his team to execute well enough that his group of guys can pull off an upset.

Get that team’s confidence going, and that team can reel off a couple of upsets in a row.

That’s how Cinderella runs in the NCAA tournament happen. Since our sport’s postseason playoff is a single-elimination tournament and not a five or seven-game series, we see these runs quite often. It’s part of what makes March Madness unique and beloved.

But, generally speaking, it’s not sustainable. Coaching wins games. Talent wins titles. There’s a reason that coaches known for their x’s-and-o’s hire ‘recruiters’ to their staff, while coaches that are capable of bringing in talent on their own will go out and hire tacticians as assistant coaches.

And that’s why, to build a program, it’s so important to capitalize on the exposure of a postseason run.

On Tuesday, Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com took a look at how VCU, Butler and George Mason have recruited since their respective Final Four runs, and it’s quite clear that the Rams have made the biggest jump of the three. Since their 2011 Final Four run, VCU has signed two top 100 recruits — Melvin Johnson and Jordan Burgess — while earning a commitment from a third — Terry Larrier — on Monday. The other six recruits they’ve signed or currently have committed are three-star players.

During that time, VCU has remained in or around the top 25 while making the jump from the CAA to the Atlantic 10. Perhaps most impressive is that Smart has yet to reap the benefits of his most talented recruits, as Burgess was ineligible last year, Johnson was a role player and Larrier is 15 months from actually playing a game. When you consider how Smart has coached up the two- and three-star recruits he’s landed, it’s easy to see why the best is yet to come for the Rams.

The same cannot be said for George Mason. Not only did their recruiting remain on the same level, four of the six best players they brought in in the next three years transferred — Jay Threatt (Delaware State), Vlad Moldoveanu (American), Luke Hancock (Louisville) and Kevin Foster (Fresno State). Jim Larrañaga left as well, and Mason has been more-or-less irrelevant since then.

Butler is the most interesting case. Not only did they have arguably the best young coach in the game — better than Smart, in my opinion — but they were also able to turn their success on the floor into success on the recruiting trail. Stevens brought in Rotnei Clark in 2011, who became eligible last season. He landed four-star recruit Kellen Dunham in the Class of 2012 and four three-star recruits — two of whom, Nolan Berry and Elijah Brown, were ranked in Rivals top 150 — in 2013. It should also be mentioned that the Bulldogs were in the mix with a couple of high-profile local players in the Class of 2014 before Stevens headed off to the NBA.

Butler also managed to climb their way from the Horizon to the Atlantic 10 all the way into the Big East this season. If Stevens had stuck around and Roosevelt Jones hadn’t broken his wrist, I don’t think it’s crazy to say that the Bulldogs would have, once again, but in and around the top 25 all year long.

So take note, Florida-Gulf Coast.

If you want to take a program from being good at the mid-major to being nationally relevant on an annual basis, the key is to capitalize on the recruiting trail when you have the limelight.

Boston University’s Joe Jones to co-host Coaches vs. Cancer tip-off breakfast

dailyfreepress.com
Leave a comment

To kick-off college basketball in the Bay State, the head coaches of the seven Division 1 schools in Massachusetts will gather at Boston’s TD Garden on the morning of September 26 for the Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off Breakfast. The breakfast will be hosted and moderated by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, with first-year Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens making a special appearance.

Hosting alongside Goodman is Boston University head coach Joe Jones.

The six other coaches in attendance will be Steve Donahue (Boston College), Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Bill Coen (Northeastern), Derek Kellogg (UMass), Milan Brown (Holy Cross) and Pat Duquette (UMass Lowell).

Tickets to the breakfast will run hoop fans $100. All “proceeds from the breakfast will benefit Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) that empowers basketball coaches, their teams and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”