BASKETBALL ISSUE | A coach of a different breed

By Katie Day

During last year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship game, coach Brad Stevens’ glasses were famous.  Fans on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter mentioned the catchphrase “Fear the Glasses” repeatedly for weeks, and pictures were posted all over the web of Stevens in his famous glasses.

But Stevens was never aware of the popularity of his spectacles.

“I don’t have Facebook,” Stevens said.  “I had no idea my glasses were such a hit.”

Senior captain and point guard Ron Nored said Stevens finally gave in and got a Twitter account this year but “mainly just to follow the guys on the team.”

Social networking is not a priority for Stevens, who schedules practice at 5:30 a.m. so that he and the other coaches can be home when their kids get done with school.

“Basketball is his job, but he prioritizes family time,” Nored said.

Stevens has a daughter named Kinsle and a son named Brady, who are both under the age of 10.

Even team dinners are a family affair.  Players, coaches and their families gather in the Wildman Room at Hinkle Fieldhouse and enjoy dinner. Stevens’ wife, Tracy, usually brings in Maggiano’s. Team dinners happen four times a year—once in the fall, twice around Christmas and once at the end of year.

Everyone also gathers at Stevens’ house once a month.

“I love team dinners at coach’s house,” Nored said.  “Just the way he is with his kids, the way he acts with his wife. I look at it and think, ‘I hope someday I can be that kind of father, that kind of husband.’  He just does it the right way.”

Stevens said he believes character, academics and athletics should be priorities, so long as they are in that order.

“I’m here to win, of course,” Stevens said.  “But I also understand that most of these kids will go on to do something other than play basketball in the future, and that’s what I’m trying to prepare them for.”

Stevens, who grew up with a father who played football at Indiana University,  has competitive roots that are close to home.

“He doesn’t like to lose,” said Carl Heck, assistant athletic director for internal operations.  “He wants to win.  But he wants to do it the right way, and he wants his players to do that.  He tries to make his players the best they can be.”

Preparation and hard work are important parts of Stevens’ winning season formula.  Stevens, who claims he has been watching game tape since his kindergarten days, reads and learns his opponents like “A” students study for tests.

“He’s a genius, and that’s the best way I can describe him,” Nored said.  “He’s really a math person.  He always has us ready in the way we should be.  A lot of our success has been because of his brains and his game plans.  He gives us the freedom and confidence to go out and do it.”

Confidence will be an essential part of the Bulldogs’ equation this year, as the team has gained seven new players and lost four starters.

Despite the turnover, recruiting since the back-to-back national championship runs has not shifted too much, mainly because Butler is looking for a certain kind of player.

“Regardless of what the ranking is, Butler is always looking for someone who can fit in the Butler Way, and it takes a special person to be able to do it,” Nored said.  “People like that find more success here.  People that can come somewhere and give up themselves for the betterment of the team make for a successful program, and that’s what Butler has had for the past 10 or 11 years.”

Creating a successful team for this season and the future are on the agenda for Stevens, and it’s clear to fans and players alike that he will do so with his calm, focused coaching style.

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