There are only four NCAA men’s basketball coaches who are feeling pretty good now that the field is down to its Final Four teams.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows all too well what that feels like having led Butler to a pair of NCAA national runner-up finishes.
But he’s also been among the coaches whose club came up short in the tournament.
Stevens has clearly moved on from his days of coaching in college, but there aspects of the college game that he admittedly misses – especially this time of year.
“I feel like I’m really lucky to have had that run and to have been able to live it,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. “And I really appreciate for the people that are going through it whether it’s the people I know really well or don’t, them living it.
Stevens added, “Those three weeks are as much fun as it gets as far as getting ready to prepare for the next game and everything that goes with it, if you’re lucky enough to advance.”
While most remember Stevens leading the Butler Bulldogs to back-to-back appearances in the national championship game, he also remembers those years when they didn’t advance as deep into the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s just the worst if you come close,” he said. “Especially when you come close to advancing into the next weekend. I’ve lived it where you’re close in a round of 32 game and you don’t quite make it. Those are hard moments. But it is a lot of fun to compete in.”
Three of Stevens’ teams at Butler did not make it past the second round of the playoffs, but he advanced to the NCAA championship game in 2010 and 2011 where they lost to Duke and Connecticut, respectively.
During his six seasons as Butler’s head coach, Stevens had a record of 166-49 with five NCAA Tournament appearances.