The Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens made his reputation as an outstanding head basketball coach at Butler University from 2007-2013. Gophers interim athletic director Beth Goetz was the associate athletic director at Butler from 2008-2013, and Stevens said she was one of the best college athletics administrators he had ever seen.

“Beth is one of the most even-keeled, measured, intelligent administrators that I ever worked with,” Stevens said. “I can’t respect a person and a leader more than I respect Beth.”

Stevens had one of the great runs in midmajor history in men’s basketball at Butler, going 166-49 during Stevens’ six years there. Goetz was there for five of those seasons. Butler reached the NCAA tournament in five of those seasons, with the Bulldogs making back-to-back appearances in the NCAA championship game in 2010 and 2011.

Stevens was asked if Goetz can handle dealing with all the issues and personalities that come with being an athletic director.

“There is no question about that,” he said. “She also understands that not every day is roses. She doesn’t lose her cool and she has a great temperament when things aren’t going well. Then when things do go really well, you know she’s the same, she just comes in and supports you and you feel good about working in the same environment as her. I’ve made it pretty well known how highly I think of her and I don’t know where they are in the whole search and everything else, but I can’t imagine finding anyone better.”

When asked what stood out about Goetz at Butler, Stevens said it was her relationship with student-athletes and her demeanor.

“I think it’s just the way she goes about her everyday business, she’s the same person every day and she treats people great,” he said. “She’s very smart. She’s passionate about the school she’s at. I actually texted with her [Monday] and she’s talking about all of the U of M athletics, talking about the big win in men’s basketball over Maryland last week. She’s so excited to be here and just to be a support to the athletes. That’s the one thing that I think in that position that you can never sell short is how much passion they have for supporting the athletes.”

Thoughts on Wolves

Stevens, who was hired by the Celtics in July 2013, is the clear front-runner to be the Eastern Conference Coach of the Year. He has led Boston — a team without a single big star — to a tie for third overall in the Eastern standings going into Wednesday’s games.

Boston has a young nucleus, like the Wolves, and Stevens was asked what he thought of the Minnesota squad after losing to the Wolves 124-122 on Monday.

“I think the Timberwolves are going to be really good for a long time to come,” Stevens said. “They’re playing great as of late, and their young players are very talented.”

What about Wolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 28 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks against the Celtics?

“He’s going to be a special one,” he said. “He’s going to be one we’re all going to have to figure out how to guard. We certainly didn’t do a good job of it [Monday].”

No buyout on Pek

Even though Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic hasn’t played much because of the many injuries he’s suffered, owner Glen Taylor has no plans to attempt to buy out his contract, which calls for $12.1 million this season, $12.1 million in 2016-17 and $11.6 million the following season.

One reason for not trying to negotiate a buyout is that the Timberwolves have insurance on Pekovic’s contract that pays 80 percent of his salary.

When the Wolves signed Pekovic to a five-year, $60 million deal in 2013, he had averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in 29.3 minutes per game the previous two seasons and had played in 109 of a possible 132 games.

In his first year with the new contract he lived up to the money, averaging a career-high 17.5 points while grabbing 8.7 rebounds per game. But he has played in only 43 games the past two seasons, including only 12 this year.

The hope is that Pekovic can get healthy, which would add great bench strength to the club.

Jottings

• Three former Gophers football assistants are on the Southern Illinois coaching staff — Trevor Olson, Nate Griffin and Jay Nunez. It would not be a surprise if former Gophers coach Jerry Kill winds up at Southern Illinois, where he coached from 2001-07, in some sort of athletics position.

• Gophers hockey coach Don Lucia reports that his son, Mario — a winger for Notre Dame who was drafted by the Wild — will join the Wild organization once the Irish hockey season ends.

• Former Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith has put together the longest conference winning streak in Texas Tech history with five Big 12 wins in a row, including consecutive victories over No. 14 Iowa State, No. 21 Baylor and No. 3 Oklahoma. The Sooners, one of the best teams in the country, were held to 38.2 percent shooting from the field — Oklahoma’s third-lowest mark of the season — and only shot 6-for-23 on three-pointers. Texas Tech (18-9) is No. 24 in the country in RPI, according to ESPN, and is almost a lock for the NCAA tournament in Smith’s third season.

• The Yankees signed former Twins outfielder/first baseman Chris Parmelee to a minor league contract Monday. Parmelee was signed as depth to fill the spot left by Yankees prospect Greg Bird, who will miss the season after undergoing shoulder surgery three weeks ago. Parmelee, who turned 28 Wednesday and played parts of four seasons with the Twins from 2011-2014, split the 2015 season between Baltimore and the Orioles’ Class AAA farm team. Parmelee hit .216 with the Orioles but .314 with Norfolk. … Former Twins reliever Juan Rincon has been named pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays’ Gulf Coast League club.

• Former Lakeville North star J.P. Macura came off the bench for No. 5 Xavier and was tied for the team scoring lead with 19 points in the Musketeers’ 90-83 victory over No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday, hitting eight of 14 shots. Macura, a sophomore, is averaging 9.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

• Former Gophers defenseman Brady Skjei was recalled by the New York Rangers from the Hartford Wolf Pack on Tuesday and played 22 minutes, 19 seconds in the Rangers’ 5-2 loss to New Jersey. It was his third career NHL game. Skjei was reassigned to Hartford on Wednesday.

• Former DeLaSalle standout Reid Travis has been shut down for the season at Stanford and is taking a medical redshirt because of a stress reaction in his left leg. The sophomore forward averaged 12.8 points per game and 7.1 rebounds in eight games this season.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com