March 29, 2011
It might be hard to recall, since Butler coach Brad Stevens has been in the limelight for three straight weeks now, but there was a time, not so long ago, when he didn't wear glasses.
Yeah, like last month.
Stevens' high-school-math-teacher look has gotten him a lot of attention during the NCAA tournament, but it's not a fashion statement he's making, the glasses are for medical need.
On Feb. 26, during the first half of Butler's senior day against Loyola, Stevens' vision got blurry and he started to worry. He began to ask assistant coach Matthew Graves about the time left in the game and Loyola's personnel. When everything around him became undefined, Stevens knew he needed a hospital.
Stevens walked off the court with about two minutes remaining in the first half and his wife, Tracy, drove him to Dr. John Abrams, who diagnosed him with a corneal edema and placed him on bed rest.
"Right now, I can't see and my eye feels like it has a thousand scratches," Stevens said in a statement released by the school after that game. "My vision got progressively worse as we were getting ready to start the game, and by the final media timeout of the first half, I could not see the other end of the court and everything in front of me was blurry."
Stevens' told Victory Firelight, an independent Butler news website, that the blurred vision started when he woke. Stevens said he put his contact lenses in and thought the blurriness was the lens settling on his eyes. But as the day progressed and his vision got worse, Stevens became concerned. However, with it being senior day, and the Horizon League tournament the only other guaranteed games the Bulldogs had left on the schedule, Stevens didn't want to miss one of his final moments with his seniors.
"Basically what it sounds like happens is, your eye gets swollen and it feels like there's a bunch of cuts on it — and there's this cloud, this smoke screen, that just envelopes it," Stevens told the website. "The first thing it does is throw you back into perspective pretty quickly because you don't know what's going on. And secondly, the last day you would have ever wanted to miss was that one. So it was hard, really hard."
Stevens returned to the court for the Bulldogs' first Horizon tournament game sporting his new specs to protect his eye. A month later, the glasses have become a part of Stevens' mystique. They make him look smart (not that he wasn't smart before) and they make him look a touch older than his 34-year-old boyish good looks would suggest.
With Stevens' increased media exposure, his glasses have become a trending topic on Twitter at #bradstevensglasses.
Even the players embrace them because they haven't lost while he's worn them. They've become a totem for the Bulldogs' unexpected run to the Final Four as a No. 8 seed.
"I think he should keep wearing those all through the tournament because they're obviously bringing us luck," senior guard Shawn Vanzant told FOX 59 Sports. "Everybody thinks Brad's a good-looking dude, so I think that helps him, too."
If the Bulldogs defeat VCU on Saturday and go on to win the national championship on Monday, there's no doubt the glasses will be at the forefront of the celebration. They might even have to be enshrined next to the national championship trophy for their contribution to yet another amazing Butler postseason run.