Q&A: Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsberry on his career, his boss, and his team
Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry was this week’s guest on BostonGlobe.com’s Celtics podcast, “On the Parquet.” Shrewsberry took a winding road to the Celtics. He played for Division 3 Hanover College and had seven college coaching jobs before winding up in Boston.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. How did you get to know Brad Stevens?
A. “Brad and I have actually known each other since high school. He’s from Zionsville [Ind.] which is kind of a suburb of Indy, and I was in Indianapolis. We’d go through the summer AAU circuit playing against each other, and then open gyms.
“We’re both hoop junkies, so you kind of knew the days and times people played. So we’d show up at Carmel High School on a Monday and play. You’d go to Ben Davis on Sunday. You’d go to Cathedral on a Thursday. Guys from the city would just rotate.
“We never played against each other in high school, but then we both were recruited to DePauw and I ended up going to Hanover and he went to DePauw, and we played against each other for four years.”
Q. How would you describe Brad’s game?
A. “We had really close games, and I just remember Brad always trying to post me up, all the time. He was real crafty around the basket. He can shoot with both hands. He’d always be down there trying to post me up.”
Q. What would you say to him when he did that?
A. “We were both fairly quiet. We didn’t really say anything. I might have given him a cheap shot or something as he was trying to root me out. I just distinctly remember him always trying to score on me. He must have known, or the coaches knew I wasn’t really going to attempt to guard him that much.”
Q. After six years as an assistant, you became a head coach at Indiana-South Bend. How was that transition?
A. “I was the first full-time coach they had. The coach they had before me was part-time. There were no dorms, there was no meal plans.”
Q. Sounds like it was easy to recruit.
A. “Very easy. I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got limited scholarship money. Why don’t you pay a lot of money to come and play here?’ But it was fun. We were challenged in terms of budget-wise and scholarship-wise compared to a lot of teams in our league.”
Q. Then it was off to Butler, where you reconnected with Brad. How did that happen?
A. “He and I had always stayed in contact throughout our years of coaching. I’d always go back and work camps in the summer when he was there as an assistant. [After he was hired] I really just reached out to him just to say that I was interested in a position if he had something.”
Q. What’s a story that kind of exemplifies that team’s back-to-back runs to the NCAA title game?
A. “I remember the year we went to the Final Four [in 2010], we were a good team but we struggled a little bit. We lost a couple games in the nonconference and we were ranked really high early in the season.
“And going into conference play, we had a couple practices that weren’t up to par, and we kind of ended practice early one day. It was on break, so we had another practice [that day], and in between practice we took everything off the walls in the locker room so it was completely bare — any pictures, any trophies, everything. Just stripped the place down.”
Q. The coaches did that?
A. “Yeah. The players came back for the second practice and they’re just looking around and nothing’s in there. It was just kind of our message. We had finished second in the conference tournament the year before, we’re not playing up to the standards of the Butler teams before us, and we were saying, ‘Why can’t we go undefeated in the conference? Why can’t we win this league without losing a game?’
“And it was crazy, we ended up doing it. We ended up going through the league undefeated and then we never lost again until the national championship game.”
Q. The next time you guys hit a rut, you should say you want all the banners to come down from TD Garden, all the trophies.
A. [Laughs] “It’s probably a little bit more work.”
Q. What was it like to reach the NBA?
A. “I think I’m still living the dream. I get letters or e-mails from people that want to coach and they ask me, ‘Do you have any advice?’ Or, ‘I want to follow your career path.’ I’m like ‘I don’t think you really want to follow my career path.’
“It wasn’t exactly a straight line to where I wanted to go. And my path is not exactly the same. A guy I grew up friends with in high school ended up getting a job with the Celtics. Like, you’d better get really good friends.”
Q. What falls on your plate as you prepare for a game?
A. “All of my stuff is on the defensive side. Going into a game, let’s say it’s my scout. I’ll watch their previous five games, and then our game if we’ve played them. You start with the basics of what they run the most, how they score, and really get all that information and shorten it and send a report to Brad. And then prepare a report for our team to get them ready for the game.”
Q. What makes this team successful?
A. “We have a bunch of guys that are really team-first guys that don’t really care about the accolades. Then we have a bunch of guys that are just tough and competitive. Every day something’s going on out there that somebody’s competing at, and it carries over. Guys want to win and they’re going to do whatever it takes to win, no matter if you’re playing video games or playing the Raptors.”
Q. When practice ends and is opened to the media, we sometimes see these competitions and they always seem loud and intense.
A. “Yeah, loud and intense would definitely describe our team. So like if there were slogans out there that you could put on the Boston Celtics: loud and intense. That’s how they are on the plane, on the bus, and definitely on the practice court.”
Listen to the full podcast here: