One guy is Peter Poindexter. The other is Curly from "The Three Stooges." One probably sports a pocket protector. The other shaves his head, sweats a lot, and loses his voice often.
One looks like anyone of the following: a private high school math teacher, a private high school principal, a JP Morgan financial analyst, the guy who will always get the job over anyone else because he looks like such a safe hire, so put together, so clean. The other guy looks like a high school social studies teacher in a public school in Philadelphia, a manager of a Wendy's, the insurance salesman who won't stop calling you no matter how times you've said no.
One is from wholesome Indiana; the other is a Texan with a twang to prove it.
They are Brad Stevens and Buzz Williams, arguably the two most compelling and talented coaches in all of college basketball (Shake Smart of VCU is way up there so he might be tomorrow's blog or maybe after he wins it all-man they crushed Akron yesterday by 40). Stevens led his Butler Bulldogs past Bucknell yesterday to advance to the Round of 32. Williams extricated his team yesterday, which was basically out of the tournament yesterday down 5 points with one minute to play, and inspired them somehow to rally and win by one point in regulation against Davidson. His players came through in the clutch with three three-pointers and a game winning layup to avoid a disastrous upset.
Tomorrow they meet. Stevens vs. Buzz, Butler vying against Marquette. Winner treks to Suite 16. This is the game of the weekend.
If you are any Division 1 college president in the United States and you want to boost the success of your college basketball program, these are the two guys you should covet and, I believe, in many cases do. Proven winners, they are as popular as iPhones. These guys represent the future leaders of the game. Steven is aged 37; Buzz is 41. They will replace Coach K and Roy Williams and that 60-something generation as they soon retire. I foresee Stevens and Williams making it to the Final Four if not this year certainly in future years. I also foresee them coaching at either Duke or North Carolina within five years, one or the other.
Like their backgrounds and personalities, they are a contrast in coaching styles. Stevens stands tall like a pencil on the sideline, like a math teacher going over algebra problems. He seems to be doing statistical calculations in his head that determine how many nano-inches his off guard needs to plant his feet to position himself more geometrically correct to defend the offensive player. Stevens seems to perused all that offensive players' stats including his confirmation name, and how fast his first-step is compared with his vertical leap over the square root of the size of his fourth metatarsal on his left foot hand? Think finance major, Wall Street brokerage firm.
Buzz, well, he may be a big stat guy, too, but that's not the overriding vibe you get studying him. You don't envision that kind of granular number crunching going on in his roundish head during games. He seems to be thinking about the emotional state of his players at all times, what's inside their souls and how he can say something to stir their inner beings to play better, to reach their ultimate personal nirvanas. Buzz is all about the psyche, the mind, the passion, the grit, the toughness, the life lessons, the inspiration. Think Tony Robbins but much cooler, not so out there, more grounded.
Where Stevens and Buzz converge is winning. Stevens has led his squad to the final game of March Madness twice. There are few coaching accomplishments anywhere at any time more impressive than this considering Butler does not put on the court players nearly as talented as several others. Under Buzz's tutelage, Marquette has gone to the Suite 16 the past two seasons, also without nearly the nation's best talent.
Regardless of who plays for their teams, they win. Regardless of everything else going on during this March Madness, these two guys stand out. They are scintillating storylines.
You will notice in the next few years that both coaches will lure more talented players to their programs. They may not get the McDonalds All-Americans, but their players will be more talented overall than those who play for them now.
I love them both equally. I want both guys to win the national championship this season, to each win five of them. But if pressed and with all other factors being equal, I've always been a little partial to "The Three Stooges."