BOSTON -- Brad Stevens loved everything about coaching at Butler except maybe one thing: It took away his ability to be a fan of March Madness.
With the annual NCAA college basketball tournament set to tip, in earnest, on Thursday afternoon, Stevens admitted he'll savor the opportunity to watch without being overly invested.
"I’ve said for the last 13 years, the thing that I’ve missed the most is being a fan," said Stevens. "And this tournament, when I have time, when I’m not getting ready for who we are playing, I’m going to treat it as being a fan. I’m going to treat myself to being a fan a little bit. I’m looking forward to that."
Stevens said he filled out a bracket at home with his family, but wouldn't reveal his picks ("I'm not going to put myself out there like that," he joked). He did enjoy his daughter's wide-eyed view of the tournament.
"I filmed my 4-year-old daughter [Kinsley] picking hers and it is quite entertaining," said Stevens. "You can imagine. American is in the Final Four because we have an American flag."
Stevens hinted that his picks were more influenced by those he worked with during his time at Butler.
"Just off the top of my head, I think of Thad Matta at Ohio State, who was my first boss, and LaVall Jordan and Jeff Meyer at Michigan, who were with us at Butler. And you can go on down the line. Here’s the hard part: One of my assistants, Kevin Kuwik, is at Dayton and they play Ohio State first. All of that is hard, but you do, you root for all of them to have a great experience. And you root for the kids to play well. That’s a fun time when the kids really play well."
Stevens said he'll always reflect on the tournament with nothing but fond memories. During six seasons as head coach at Butler, the Bulldogs made five tournament appearances, including consecutive trips to the national title game.
"The best thing about it is looking and seeing what all those guys are doing now," said Stevens. "And how they benefited from it, whether they are a basketball player, whether they are in graduate school, or whether they are working in the corporate world in Indianapolis. That’s the neat part when you look at it, and all the times you had together. So you look at it fondly.
"I’m paying attention to [this year's tournament] because I’m a sports fan. And everybody that’s a sports fan pays attention to the tournament. I’ll root for my friends, really hard with no care if we ever meet in a later round."