When Brad Stevens first played golf with Belmont coach Rick Byrd he didn’t expect much from the calm, classy guy with the genuine demeanor.
Then they teed off.
“It is kind of that ‘Aw, shucks’ attitude and then he just pounds you on the golf course,” the Butler coach said on Wednesday during a integrity in sports panel discussion at Belmont. “It is all a set up.”
So Stevens is ready for their meeting on the hardwood. But that matchup will have wait to another season.
Originally scheduled for next December in Butler’s historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, both coaches confirmed the game has been pushed back until the 2014-15 season.
The last time Belmont and Butler met on the basketball court was in 1999 when the Bulldogs blasted Byrd and the Bruins 79-35.
“I wasn’t even on that staff,” Stevens reminded Byrd.
“You were 14?” Byrd quipped.
Actually, he was 23 and still working for a pharmaceutical company. More than a dozen years later, he heads into his seventh season as Butler’s head coach.
Stevens guided the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championship games in 2010 and 2011 and will lead the program into a new era when they join the new Big East Conference next year. At just 36, he has been offered numerous chances to leave Butler but has stayed and turned the mid-major into a national power.
“Rick and I have talked about this a number times that Brad learned things in his 30s that we learned in our 50s,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “Rick alluded to a maturity level that he has that a lot of others don’t. For him to have success and be able to handle it the way he has handled it is not only a great thing for this sport but it is a great thing for the future of college athletics. We obviously need more Brad Stevens’, not less. He is a guy going forward, because of his youth and the impact he can have because of their success he can make a big difference.”
Stallings got his first experience of the “Butler Way” this past December when Vanderbilt lost 68-49 at Memorial Gymnasium.
The Commodores will return the trip and play Butler at Hinkle during the 2013-14 season. Vanderbilt’s entire non-conference schedule has not been announced.
Stevens expects to see a different Vanderbilt squad next time.
“We probably caught them at the right time,” Stevens said. “We were older. We were playing really well. They were young and they were still trying to find themselves. Now, obviously they played great at the end of the year. I expect Vanderbilt to be really good next year and it will be a hard game for us.”