Sunday, February 1, 2009

Trading glitz and glamour for productivity

A unique part of the Butler's basketball program are the early-morning workouts, which the players contend give them an edge:

"We do this all the time, every day," junior forward Willie Veasley said. "I think you get more focused when you wake up and everything is so fresh. It's gotten us to where we are now, and it's probably real different from what other programs do."

As this article points out, the No. 13 "Bulldogs have appeared in five NCAA tournaments since 2000 and reached the regional semifinals twice in the last six years. Over the past three seasons, they've won more games than any other Division I school in Indiana and have been ranked for 40 weeks since 2006."

This season, Butler's starting lineup features "three freshmen and a sophomore" and is led by "the nation's third-youngest coach, 32-year-old Brad Stevens."

And here they are, winners of 19 of their first 20 games.

According to this article:

Butler's old-school strategy favors teamwork over experience. Players share the basketball, take pride in defending opponents, prefer crediting teammates to gloating about their own accomplishments and they don't deviate from the system. Simply put, it's all about desire, determination and execution.

Part of Butler's recipe for success is that the team's "coaches look for distinctive traits in recruits — like maturity and teamwork — that other schools often overlook. At Butler, they're essential."

"We spend a lot of time talking to their high school coaches and the coaches around them. That gives you better insight into them," Coach Stevens said. "But I think if you watched how they interacted with their teammates on and off the court, you'd see we really didn't have to do a lot of research. It starts with the makeup of the kids on this team — their selflessness and their belief in being a great teammate."

The author contends that "when the freshmen arrive in Indy, they've already agreed to trade glitz and glamour, even dunks, for productivity. The Bulldogs also keep things in perspective. They focus on making the most of what they have, not complaining about what they don't have — bigger post players, highly ranked recruiting classes or sparkling new facilities."

"We're not aiming to be someone else," Coach Stevens said. "I think a lot of programs do things really well and when you watch them on tape, you may take something and try some things that might work for your program. But we are Butler, and we're just trying to be the best Butler team we can be."