Brad Stevens comes across as the studious type who never wants to be caught off guard. But admittedly, he's curious – but not positive – about what will happen to his Butler men's basketball team when it enters play this coming season in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“It's going to be one heck of a league,” Stevens said. “Without question, the most challenged of the group will be us and (fellow newcomer) VCU. It will be very, very interesting.”
Stevens will be honored Saturday evening in Fort Wayne as the recipient of the famed red coat at the annual Mad Anthonys Charity Classic for Children.
“I'm excited to be a part of the Mad Anthonys,” Stevens said. “I'm certainly honored. Anytime that you end up doing things that benefit a very good cause you are certainly even more excited to do it.”
Butler was a charter member of the Horizon League (formerly known as the Midwestern City Conference) in 1979 but last month announced that the Bulldogs athletic programs would join the A-10 in July 2013. A few weeks later that process was expedited, and Butler will now compete this coming season in the new league.
“From a pure basketball standpoint, you're not going to go into a brand-new league and be at the very top of everything,” Stevens said. “What you want to do is be in position to be competitive. We feel like we are and we can be.”
Stevens has been researching the other men's basketball programs in the A-10 down to the smallest detail. He is learning what the other budgets include, what the other facilities are like and even how those schools have constructed their rosters as far as the type of student-athletes they recruit.
One of the more immediate areas that needed to be addressed for the Bulldogs to be able to compete in the A-10 was the upgrade in facilities at Hinkle Fieldhouse according to Stevens.
“The most pressing area is the restoration of Hinkle Fieldhouse,” Stevens said. “We're on that.”
The university is in the midst of a $25 million campaign to raise funds that will include the addition of more chair-type seats in the basketball arena, which will lower the capacity to around 8,500. Other additions include a new scoreboard with video capability; installing air conditioning in the main arena, as well as the west gym, which is a practice facility; and converting the old natatorium into new space for locker rooms, athletic training facilities and athletic department offices.
“We've got a game plan and are trying our best to raise money to make sure that we restore Hinkle with the traditional feel that it always has had,” Stevens said, “yet update it for the betterment of all of our student-athletes.”
Stevens admitted that the athletic department budget is “going to have to be altered,” but he is adamant that all of the improvements and increases needed can and will be possible in order to keep the Bulldogs competitive on a national level.
“We feel good about where we are,” Stevens said. “Night in and night out we are going to have to bring it. I'm really looking forward to it.”
In recent weeks, News-Sentinel Sports Editor Tom Davis has interviewed basketball coaches at programs including Purdue, IPFW, Butler, and Kansas State.
In addition, he spent time in Chicago last week covering the NBA Draft Combine, where he interviewed some of the top players in college basketball.
Visit News-Sentinel.com at 1:30 p.m. Friday to participate in a live chat with Davis regarding college basketball and recruiting.