LEXINGTON - Butler will face Marquette today at approximately 7:45 p.m. at Rupp Arena in the NCAA Tournament third round.
Bulldog coach Brad Stevens met with the media on Friday and gave his thoughts on a number of topics.
On appreciating making the NCAA Tournament:
"I don't know that it heightened it. You know, when I was an assistant in my first, I guess I was '01 to '07, so, seven years, we made the tournament three times. We made two NITs and we didn't play in post eason twice. I already had a pretty good appreciation for how hard it was to make the tournament and how almost perfect you felt like you had to play.
"We were on a 25-5 team in '01, '02 that didn't make it. Life in that bubble or on that bubble is no fun. We've been fortunate that, you know, six out of the last seven now we have.
"So, you know, last year was coming, to be honest, and I thought our guys did a great job of getting better through the season and giving ourselves a chance to ultimately win 20 games and play in postseason but maybe more importantly build for this season."
On developing a rivalry with Marquette:
"First of all, the most important thing to a rivalry is great respect between the institutions, and I don't think there's any doubt that that would be the case, certainly from our end.
"You know, obviously Marquette is a great school and, you know, I've got a great deal of respect for A, their team this year, and B, their program and the tradition of their program. Buzz is a great coach. He's done a very good job, obviously Big East coach and all that they've accomplished.
"That being said, i think you need a few more years of games before you really delve into the rivalry question."
On admiring Marquette after beating the Golden Eagles in Maui:
"I told Buzz at our coaches meeting two days ago that I learned as much about Marquette in Maui as I did about Butler. To lose on a shot that should have never gone in and to respond with two blowout victories on back-to-back days is a remarkable achievement.
"Nobody knows, nobody understands, unless you've been in the locker room, how hard that is to reconvene, go back out and compete and do what they did and then go on to do what they did throughout the course of the season. I told him it's amazing what happened in Maui from their perspective. And, you know, it's easy to hit that shot and then feel good and play well the next day."
On seeking input from others:
"I think I am a numbers guy, so I guess I look at it from that lens and I appreciate having other people on our staff that look at it both the same way and differently so that you have a lot of different opinions and you can throw things off of each other.
"(Graduate manager Drew Cannon) done a great job for us, as has the rest of our staff, and so just like anything else, I throw everything by our staff. I want them to feel engaged, want them to put their signature on things, and I want them to have the thought of being head coaches, because they will be."
On learning from other coaches:
"I absolutely love getting together with other coaches. I think that's one of the great benefits of our job, and, you know, especially in that August time frame, whether you go to -- I've been to retreats at the University of Florida this year. I spent two days at Kansas when they were getting ready for their trip to Italy.
"You just -- you go and you pick the brains of others and you see what they do and you just -- how can you integrate a thought, a concept, a drill of they do into what you do to make your team just a little bit better or just keep them fresh. You know, even if it's as simple as getting one drill that can emphasize what you want emphasized and you can throw in in January that just keeps their minds fresh, then that's a positive trip and positive experience for you.
"I love that part of this business. It's a very competitive industry with regard to we're judged based on winning and losing, but it's also an interesting thing, because we all get together and talk about the game, and that's one of the things I relish most about my 13 years in coaching.
"The one coach that I clearly took the most from was Todd Lickliter, but that was at Butler."
On remaining at one school:
"As far as staying at schools, I just think it's probably always been that way, just people are paying more attention to it. People are finding the coaching carousel to be more of a game than true life stuff. That bothers me a little bit because as I've -- I've been around coaches that have moved on, have had good friends fired and I know this: It's very stressful when people move, and so, you know, I think it's certainly more real than sometimes it's made out to be."
On the increased physicality of the sport:
"...every year there's an increased focused on strength and conditioning and every time you walk into a facility like this, where you have unlimited resources and you know that with nutrition, strength, conditioning, people assigned to kids, the just focus on the summer now being accessible to kids to work with them, just -- there's going to be bigger, stronger bodies.
"Kids out of high school are even more ready than before because they're now even stronger when they get to college."
On his coaching demeanor:
"I would love to model it on some people who I have a lot of respect for. I've quickly realized I can't. I've always admired and thought that the ultimate coach was Tony Dungy, but he's way better than I am and way more calm and poised than I am.
"I think the best piece of advice I got right when I got the head coaching job at Butler, I was talking to a friend who had taken over another school similar, and he said, you know, that first year he always thought about what his successful predecessors have done to get the team to get the most out of them.
"He said, you know what, what I learned was you have to be yourself. So I can tell you anything, just be yourself and if it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't. At least that way you have no regrets with it."