Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brad Stevens

Coaching in sport is often measured on "What have you done for me recently?" Putting emphasis on wins and money often leads to destruction. While wins should be the primary focus on the professional level, in collegiate sports wins should be secondary. College is a time for boys to become men and girls to become women. Coaching in college sports should focus on learning and growing rather than just winning.

Recently, the Butler Bulldogs defeated Gonzaga with a buzzer beater win in what was a highly competitive game between two ranked opponents. Here are the highlights of the game. The single most impressive aspect of this game for me is watching Brad Stevens, the Butler head coach. At the 1:53 mark in the video, the game is decided. After Butler steals the ball keep an eye on Brad Stevens. He is calmly standing by the scorer's table with his hands folded in front of him. As the final shot is released, the points are awarded, and the Butler fans are going nuts, Brad Stevens calmly walks over to shake the hand of his opposing coach. Stevens seems numb to the pandemonium ensuing around him. I was a little confused by his calm demeanor when I was watching this game live but after I heard his interview afterwards it all made sense. When asked to comment about the flow and energy of the game Stevens replies,"My deal is that I don't care about the end result. As long as we have no regrets; the pain of discipline is [far less than the pain of regret]." Are you kidding me?!? This guy... Basically he told his players that as long as they don't have any regrets then the results won't matter. He has instilled so much discipline into his players that they know they will win if they play with no regrets. I know a lot of coaches want to say what Stevens says about "ohh the results don't matter blah blah blah" but to see Stevens actually practices what he preaches is pretty awesome. He wants  the win but in the end he knows it comes down to his players. He is walking away to address the other coach as time expires. Clearly the end result doesn't matter to Stevens. He lets his players play out the final seconds (Butler still had a timeout)  and lets the hours of practice his team has put in decide the game. Most coaches would have called a timeout to set up a play but Stevens knows he has coached his players right and he trusts them 100%. 

It is easy for Stevens to say results don't matter (two championship appearances in the last three years isn't bad) but at least on this occasion he was able to accept defeat. Stevens isn't worried about losing his job anytime soon if  he loses a few games. I have a feeling that Brad Stevens is a guy who uses his platform as a coach to direct his young players' lives. He instills values in them that are far more valuable than basketball skills. In a time where coaches can be on the hot seat if they lose one game, Stevens wants a team to play disciplined and lets the results fall into place.  

Brad Stevens is a breath of fresh air in college sports. Even at a small school like Butler where a few wins can save a program from destruction, Stevens isn't worried about the results. It is people like Brad Stevens who prove that sport is just an instrument for life. There are far more important things in life than basketball or any other sports. It is nice to see a guy who keep things in perspective and stand out in a time where wins and money seem to drive everything in sports.

This guy also knows the power of sport.

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