Selection Sunday felt a lot different this year for Brad Stevens.
For most of the past six years, this day meant huddling inside Hinkle Fieldhouse with his Butler team and awaiting the Bulldogs' NCAA tournament fate. Reflecting on the process before the Boston Celtics tasted a 121-120 overtime defeat against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Arena, Stevens hinted he missed the emotions of this day at the college level.
"It was great when you’re in, and it was the worst when you weren’t," said Stevens, whose Butler teams went to the NCAA tournament five times during his six seasons at the helm. "It would certainly run the gamut of emotions. My wife actually said today that this was the day that she probably misses the most out of college, because you get people together and, especially if you know you’re in the tournament, and you sit there and you watch and you find out like everybody else does at the same time where you’re headed. But I think that’s part of the allure of it all. And it really is a great tournament to be a part of. I’m really happy to be where I am and excited about what I’m doing, but that is a fun part of basketball, for fans at any level."
Will Stevens be filling out a bracket now that he's not immersed in the college game?
"I’ll eventually look at the bracket," he told reporters in New Orleans. "I haven’t filled out a bracket in so long that I’m not going to probably stew over it. I’ll look and see where my friends are, figure out what time they play and hopefully get a glimpse of them."
Playing in New Orleans did bring back some fond memories for Stevens. It was there that eighth-seeded Butler toppled fourth-seeded Pittsburgh and second-seeded Florida to earn a return trip to the Final Four in 2011.
"Obviously, pulling up [to Smoothie King Arena] was great, just walking into the hallway was great," Stevens said. "A lot like when we were in Utah a couple of weeks ago in EnergySolutions [Arena, where Butler earned its first Final Four trip in 2010]. The memories are to forget, thankfully. Those were great moments."
RONDO OUT MONDAY; BRADLEY LIKELY STARTS
Rajon Rondo is expected to sit out the second night of a back-to-back on Monday in Dallas. Stevens suggested before Sunday's game that Avery Bradley, now with two games under his belt since returning from an ankle injury, is likely to get the start in Rondo's place.
The Celtics often have moved Phil Pressey to the starting point guard role when Rondo rests, but Jerryd Bayless also is capable of running the point and he's been starting lately in place of injured Bradley, who has come off the bench his first two games back.
Stevens said he believes Rondo likely will not play in any of the four back-to-backs remaining on Boston's schedule this season, though he left the door open for the possibility. Rondo played nearly 45 minutes in Sunday's overtime loss, essentially ensuring that he'll take a day of rest on Monday.
HOMECOMING FOR BASS
Brandon Bass, a native of Baton Rouge, La., who started his career with the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets in 2005, finished with seven points and five rebounds over 23 minutes. He missed 8 of the 11 shots he put up and was minus-10.
While Bass' minutes have eroded a bit with Boston leaning heavy on younger players like Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk off the bench, Bass remains a consistent presence, having appeared in all 67 games this season (58 starts).
Sometimes the best ability is availability.
"Brandon has been very reliable, very consistent," Stevens said. "He’s been a guy that has, first of all, he’s always available, it seems like, which is a testament to how he takes care of his body. Of all of the guys, he is one of our best pros with regard to how he gets himself ready. Every single night, you feel like you know what you’re going to get from Brandon Bass. It’s a credit to him. It’s a credit to his time in the league thus far and learning what it takes and I’m hopeful that a lot of our young guys are watching him."