Brad Stevens as Boston Celtics head coach
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Stevens Praises Vogel, Plans to Pick His Brain

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

July 8, 2013

ORLANDO – Last week, the basketball world was in shock when the storied Boston Celtics hired Brad Stevens to be their next head coach. Since, his life has been a whirlwind. Instead of hitting the recruiting trail, he’s at the Orlando Summer League to watch his team and to learn more about the professional game.

Stevens, a meticulous observer of film, has tried to absorb everything he can about the league from various minds in the game. Stevens told Pacers.com that he’s having dinner Pacers head coach Frank Vogel Monday night.

“I’ll try to pick his brain for any tips he can give me,” he said.

Vogel, who texts frequently with Stevens, thinks highly of the Celtics new coach and gave the team an A+ for the hire.

“I think it’s a brilliant move by [President of Basketball Operations] Danny Ainge and the Celtics because obviously Brad is a brilliant coach and he’s just going to do great,” Vogel said last week.

“Your relationships with your players at this level probably are more important than at the college level. That’s the first part of why he’s going to be successful. His intelligence in preparing game plans and preparing a system and having a unit of players play as a unit. I think that’s going to translate.”

There’s a mutual respect between the two young, highly successful head coaches. Vogel turned 40 years old last month and Stevens will turn 37 in October, just prior to his head-coaching debut.

There was a point when coach Vogel was the youngest coach in the NBA. In recent years, some teams have opted for the young up-and-comer. Unlike Stevens, Vogel and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (42), who squared off in the Eastern Conference Finals this past season, have been in the NBA for more than a decade. But they did demonstrate to organizations that age is just a number – talent, an eye for the game, and relationships are what matter.

“Those guys have been in this so long,” Stevens said. “I think this is a totally different scenario. Those guys grew up in NBA film rooms and as NBA assistants, and now as NBA head coaches. I think obviously it’s a different way to where we all are. I don’t want to pretend I’m on their planet yet. I’ve got a lot of work to do just to get to the point where I’m comfortable heading into training camp. Those guys are really good coaches and there’s a reason they’ve been so successful.

When Pacers president Larry Bird removed Vogel’s interim tag in 2011, he ensured that Vogel surrounded himself with experienced, been-there-done-that coaches. Stevens said he has the flexibility to do so but will weigh his options.

“Danny [Ainge] has been really open about whatever I want to do with that. It’s one of the things I’m going to talk to Frank about tonight. I’ll ask him and pick his brain on what he thinks is most important in assembling a staff and the right people around him. He’s such a good guy. He’s such an easy guy to work for and plan for that I hope that’s the kind of work environment we have as well.”

Two years ago during the NBA lockout, Vogel and his staff visited nearby colleges to see their basketball programs and take away whatever they could. Butler was among those stops. Stevens has appreciated Vogel’s willingness to be of assistance, with their relationship growing each year.

“He’s been great,” Stevens said of Vogel. “He’s been really good and open to be a help to me, and that was when I was coaching at Butler, too. He’s really a good guy and he’s an easy guy to root for as [Pacers fans] know.”

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