Humility. Passion. Unity. Servanthood. Thankfulness. Those are the five principles of the Butler way that was forged by Tony Hinkle, but resurrected by Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier. When it comes to Butler it is all about a team first mentality. And it’s those principles along with one of the best coaches in America that have turned the Bulldogs into one of the most dominant mid-major powers in college basketball and have led them to their second straight Final Four.
After a tough start to the season that included some head-scratching losses, Butler is back in the Final Four and this year’s run might be even more impressive. This year Butler had to overcome the loss of their best player, Gordon Hayward, who bolted to the NBA after being the darling of the NCAA Tournament last year. Not to mention this year Butler had an even tougher road to Houston and it took a lot of late-game heroics to get it done. Whether it was a Matt Howard tip-back, a Pittsburgh foul, cold-blooded shots by Shelvin Mack against Florida, or late free throws, Butler has found to make the winning plays every game of the tourney so far. This isn’t a fluke either. Butler belongs in the Final Four because they are tough, they are gritty, they are resilient, they never get rattled, they have future NBA players on the roster, and they understand what it takes to win on the biggest stage. They are in the Final Four because they have followed Butler Way to Houston.
Former Butler Hoops Coach and current Butler AD, Barry Collier, joined 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis with Dan Dakich to talk about locking up Brad Stevens, if he ever thought this kind of success was possible at Butler, why Butler is in the Final Four for the second straight year, whether or not people are less excited this year about the Final Four because it is not close to home this time, and whether or not he expects teams to try and hire Brad Stevens away from Butler.
On giving Brad Stevens an extension last year:
“Well Dan if it was possible to lock him up for his career I would do that. I want you to know he has a lifetime contract right now, but that’s my lifetime and not his. (Laughing) That’s a short one.”
Whether or not he ever expected this kind of success for the program:
“You know what I never looked that far down the road. I knew what would happen if we won our next game. That was all that I figured on. You made a thought come to mind. The ‘89-90 season was a disaster with a young, stupid coach named Barry Collier. We went 44 days without a ‘W’ much less with winning like they are now. It’s like two different worlds and the program has gotten better and better and better and better. Now it’s just out of sight. It’s fantastic.”
Why Butler is back in the Final Four this year:
“I think there’s a lot of things, but maybe the most important thing is the toughness and resolve that you would like the team to have. In my mind I would rather have that one trait than anything else on the books as far as something to start with. They have that at a very, very high level. This is a talented group and maybe they haven’t had the recognition, and I don’t know how that can happen being in two Final Fours, and Brad Stevens is as good as there is in my opinion and has proven it. I just think they have a tough, tough mindset and they lock in defensively and give themselves a chance in virtually every game when they do that.”
If people are taking this trip to the Final Four because of last year’s success:
“No actually I think it’s even more. It’s different because we are going 1,000 miles away, but it is not taken for granted. As a matter of fact I really thought we might not sell all of our student tickets because we get 884 this year, but they sold out in a few hours. That’s about a fifth of our student body, which is a pretty darn big percentage. People have been here with cameras, in the bookstore, and in the spirit shop here at Hinkle Fieldhouse where they’re selling stuff right and left. It’s pretty neat to see. In fact the people in the bookstore and the spirit shop tell us they’re selling more stuff than they did last year. It’s up another level I think.”
Whether or not he expects people other schools to try and lure Brad Stevens away from Butler:
“Athletic Directors are not smart people as a group and I can attest to that, but I do think they’re smart enough to see a great coach when they see him so I’d be somewhat surprised if they didn’t. There will be at least one dead body if that happens and it would be mine. We will do everything we can. All that stuff is facetious, but our main thing at Butler is to figure out how to get better and keep improving. That means together with our coach and all the parts of our program and we are dead set on doing that. We didn’t arrive last year and are just gonna rest on that. We’re going to get better, we’re going to invest, and be committed to our coach and our program. I like that setup, I know Brad does, and we’re going to march on together.”