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Monday, April 7, 2014
Stevens drowns out Rondo's Kentucky talk

By Chris Forsberg

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The day of the NCAA men's basketball championship game will always send Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens down memory lane and, despite two losses on that stage, he always stresses the fond memories he plucked from just getting to that point with his teams at Butler University.

What he doesn't miss: The long ramp until the late-night tip-off.

"Long. Long. You’re like, ‘Can we please just play the game,’" Stevens said before Kentucky and Connecticut meet on Monday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. "It’s 9:18 tip or whatever. Yeah, it was a long day, but the first time our guys played in it, we were in Indianapolis, so they actually went to class in the morning. And that was probably great because it provided some normalcy -- though I don’t think class was all that normal that day, from what I heard.

"The next year, it was just a long day, but you’re anxious to play, you’re excited to play, you want to do as well as you possibly can. It’s a fun thing to experience. And both those teams will never forget it, regardless of the outcome."

Butler lost to Duke 61-59 in the 2010 title game, then fell to Connecticut 53-41 a year later.

With some Kentucky products in the Boston locker room in assistant coach Walter McCarty and captain Rajon Rondo, Stevens was asked if he's heard a lot of chatter from the former Wildcats.

"Walter has been; I haven’t heard Rondo, but I put my headphones in whenever he starts talking about Kentucky," a playful Stevens said. "No, they are excited about it. Clearly those two have a large rooting interest in tonight’s game."

Jeff Green has his own rooting interest: Kevin Ollie. The current head coach at Connecticut spent his final NBA season in 2010 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he played alongside Green.

"I’m cheering for [Ollie] and hope they win it all," Green said.

Did Green know that Ollie would be a head coach someday?

"Of course. He coached while he was [playing for the Thunder]," Green said. "He’s a great motivator and, as a teammate, he expected the best out of his teammates. I think he’s doing that as a coach."