From Jon “I smile a lot” Gruden to Lane “I sell my house more frequently than a mobster” Kiffin, the sports world has definitely seen its fair share of young coaches on the big stage.
Even so, I don’t think anything could have prepared us for the newest kid on the block.
Win or lose, Butler head coach Brad Stevens will make history tomorrow night. The 19-year-old is the youngest man (or boy) to lead a team to the NCAA championship since…ever.
All in all, Stevens doesn’t seem to be disturbed by the copious news coverage regarding his age.
Said Stevens, “Does being young enough to be Coach K’s grandson bother me? Nope. In many ways, I thrive on it.”
In an exclusive interview held at the local Chuck E. Cheese, Stevens talked about the advantages of his youth.
“I could connect with the players much better,” said Stevens. “My mouth is like a rap sheet. Not only do I know every song played on our warm-up track, but I could also spit mad beats. I don’t even have to do a pep talk half the time. Usually I just throw an inspiring rap lyric at them, and they’re raring to go.”
Since taking over the head coaching reins in 2007, Stevens has made the most of his unique circumstance. In his first three seasons at the helm, the college sophomore has led his team to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
In 2009, the juvenile genius was awarded the Hugh Durham Mid-Major coach of the year award. Most impressively, he boasts a .864 career win percentage.
“When your team isn’t called the Pittsburgh Pirates, anything is possible.”
Touché, Mr. Stevens.
Coming into the NCAA tournament as a No. 5 seed, Butler has definitely made the most of its NCAA tournament experience.
“I mean, nobody expected us to make it this far,” said 12-year-old star forward Gordon Heyward. “Picking us past the Elite Eight would be almost as crazy as watching the Disney channel over Nickelodeon.”
Though Stevens may be feeling rough, raw, and in the time of his life, being a 19-year-old coach definitely has its disadvantages.
“Yea, I almost got in some pretty big trouble the other night,” said a swaggering Stevens. “After the win against Kansas State, me and my boys decided to hit up the bars and celebrate. I got a little bit too drunk, and the bartender noticed. Then he realized I was using a fake ID. He threatened to arrest me, but luckily Matt Howard talked him out of it. And when I say talked, he just gave him a big ‘ol bear hug. How could anyone ever resist one of those?”
Butler will have its hands full tomorrow against a formidable Duke squad, who handily defeated a very talented West Virginia squad to reach the championship game.
“They’re good,” said Stevens. “We’re going to have to play with a lot of heart to even have a chance. Instead of practice, I’m going to have a team viewing of Superbad . If that doesn’t inspire the team, I don’t think anything will.”
Stevens knows what’s at stake. With a win tomorrow, his team will be immortalized forever on one of those “One Shining Moment” videos.
Said Stevens, “Basketball comes down to a series of moments. The trick is to make every moment count."
Will Stevens and company capture it, or just let it slip?
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