Stevens’ stature reaching mythical proportions
Perhaps the only person on the Butler basketball team that emerged unscathed from Monday’s 53-41 loss to UConn was coach Brad Stevens.
Stevens, one of the few coaches who’ve ever taken his team to back-to-back NCAA tournament title games, watched as his Bulldogs missed 52 of 64 field-goal attempts and set a championship record for lowest field-goal percentage (18.8).
But his team earned the respect of UConn coach Jim Calhoun, whose team also had a miserable shooting night, hitting less than 35 percent of its shots.
“Butler really plays defense,” Calhoun said. “I mean, they really play defense. And we really play defense, and I think eventually our quickness and length got to them, but from a purist standpoint, if you really like defense, take a clip of this game.”Watching Butler shoot Monday may have been tough, but one had to agree with Calhoun. There wasn’t anything missing in the Bulldogs’ effort. And if it’s possible to lose a game like that with dignity, Butler did it. From Dan Wetzel’s column at Yahoo! Sports:
They talk a lot about the “Butler Way” around here, although no one has a specific definition of it. Mostly it’s about being selfless, not caring who gets the points or the headlines or the accolades. Here on the night of a bitter, bitter defeat, Brad Stevens was reminded it can mean a whole lot more than that.
“You know if someone has to go 12 of 64 and lose that game and do it that way,” he said, “these guys have the character to handle that.”
That’s a reflection of Stevens and his calm, pleasant demeanor. Perhaps he can’t pull off the impossible – Butler’s been this close to ascending to the top of college hoops the last two years – but there’s still the sense that his teams could do it in the future. From Matt Norlander’s column at CBSSports.com:
And just how good will he be? Here’s where we’re entering hyperbole territory. Stevens’ last two NCAA tournaments – he’s a combined 10-2 – raise the possibility among some caches that he may end his career where only one person’s gone before.
Kyle Whelliston from The Mid-Majority caught up with George Mason coach Jim Larranaga at the Final Four, and Larranaga’s assessment couldn’t have been more impressive.
Wow. Now there’s high praise. Nothing like setting the bar impossibly high for a coach.
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