Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:32 am
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:19 am
By Gary Parrish
Marquette coach Buzz Williams suspended three players for the first half, fell behind by 15 points in the second half and yet he still, somehow, figured out a way to escape West Virginia with a 61-60 victory late Friday.
And then he danced.
Right there in the middle of the court.
To "Country Roads."
"I wasn't trying to be disrespectful," Williams told ESPN's Bill Raftery moments later. "I'm very happy and pleased."
As well he should've been because it's not often a coach can teach a lesson and still win a big game, but that's what Williams managed to do at West Virginia. He suspended Darius Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan for the first half -- and Todd Mayo for the second half -- because of a violation of team rules, which left the 10th-ranked Golden Eagles with just six players available for the opening 20 minutes. Predictably, they fell behind by double-digits. But then Jae Crowder (26 points) got going and Johnson-Odom, Blue and Cadougan combined for 23 second-half points to help Marquette erase the deficit and record its school-record 13th Big East victory.
And then Buzz danced.
Right there in the middle of the court.
To "Country Roads."
And it was hilarious ... especially when some West Virginia fans had to be restrained. Things were close to getting wild, which is not something Williams anticipated. He explained his actions afterward by saying he was just overly excited and dancing in the moment to a song he heard that reminded him of his childhood in Texas. It didn't register with Williams that "Country Roads" is West Virginia's song until the fans were already irate, and Williams told CBSSports.com late Friday that he regretted his celebration and how it came off.
"Emotional response and very unprofessional," Williams texted to CBSSports.com. "I apologized. I was just excited."
Posted on: December 7, 2011 1:22 am
By Jeff Goodman
NEW YORK - Marquette feels disrespected. No, not because the Golden Eagles were picked to finish sixth by the coaches in the league or due to the fact they believe they should be ranked higher than 11th in the country.
Because of the "toughness" tag that the program is unable to shed.
"That's all people talk about," Marquette senior Jae Crowder said shortly after burying a 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left to give Marquette a 79-77 win over Washington. "At some point it has to end."
"That makes us one-dimensional," he added. "And that's not what we are."
For a while there, Marquette coach Buzz Williams loved the label. Basked in it. Why? It's the ultimate sign of respect when an opposing coach says that your team plays hard and is tough.
But enough is enough.
People need to finally start talking about the talent on this team, the talent in this program, in conjunction with the toughness. Lazar Hayward went from a mid-major recruit to an NBA first-rounder. Jimmy Butler did the same. Darius Johnson-Odom was also an under-the-radar guy who has a chance to play at the next level.
Williams may not be recruiting McDonald's All-Americans, but he's brought in plenty of talent to go along with the toughness.
Johnson-Odom and Crowder are the clear-cut stars and leaders of this year's team. DJO finished with 23 points while Crowder added 18 - including the game-winner. However, Vander Blue has made a significant improvement, Todd Mayo (O.J.'s little brother) has been terrific as a freshman coming off the bench and the inside duo of Chris Otule, Davante Gardner has been solid. Junior Cadougan won't blow anyone away, but he knows how to run a team and has the ability get his teammates open looks. There's also depth with guys like Jamil Wilson, the defensive-minded Derrick Wilson, Juan Anderson and Jamail Jones.
"At some point, people have to give the credit that the program is much deeper than just toughness," Williams said. "At some point, it's more than playing really hard and more than just toughness."
You don't go into Madison and knock off Wisconsin solely on grit and determination. You don't follow it up with a victory over a Washington team that could have three future NBA guys in Madison Square Garden without talented players.
This group is about more than just toughness.
But if I were Williams and Marquette, I'd continue to embrace the "toughness" label.
It's complimentary -- and seems to be working.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 5:06 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Marquette lost an NBA player yet Buzz Williams' team may be improved from a year ago.
There's certainly more quality depth than there was a year ago - or at any point since he inherited the reigns from Tom Crean. Darius Johnson-Odom is a year older and while Jae Crowder may not be Jimmy Butler or Lazar Hayward (a pair of first-rounders over the past two seasons), his production could exceed both.
Crowder, through five games, is putting up 17.8 points and 8 boards per game.
"He's a really good player, is extremely intelligent and instinctive," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.
DJO and Crowder are a potent 1-2 punch, but the difference in this year's team is the maturity of sophomore guard Vander Blue, the presence of a true floor leader (Junior Cadougan, right) and the addition of a potent scorer off the bench (Todd Mayo)
Blue is averaging 12.2 points per game, Cadougan is a significant upgrade over Dwight Buycks at the point guard position and Mayo -- O.J.'s little brother -- is averaging 7.8 points in just 16.6 minutes.
"Dwight helped us win a lot of games, but Junior is a different type of player," Williams said. "He delivers the ball on time and on target."
Cadougan is a true point guard who makes life easier for those around him - and he's finally in shape.
It took Cadougan a while to work his way back from an injury he suffered as a freshman, but he's down to 200 pounds and Williams says he's in the best shape that he's ever seen him. Part of that can be attributed to a contest that Williams posed to Cadougan and rotund big man Davante Gardner. Williams has gone from 233 to a rather svelte 197 pounds and Gardner dropped 27 pounds prior to the start of practice.
"I did it selfishly. I had to turn it into a contest to make me accountable," Williams laughed. "But they weren't going to beat me. I wasn't going to let that happen."
True, the schedule hasn't been taxing. It began with Mount St. Mary's, has included Winthrop, Norfolk State twice and also featured a 30-point pasting on Ole Miss.
However, that'll change soon. Marquette plays at Wisconsin and in New York against Washington in the next 10 days - and will host Vanderbilt late in December when the Commodores are expected to have a healthy Festus Ezeli.
It's difficult to question a Williams-coached team. The constant? They play hard each and every possession. Williams has led Marquette to 69 victories in his first three seasons and a trio of NCAA tournament appearances - including a Sweet 16 berth last year.
Just to compare, Crean won 56 games his first three years and went to the NCAA tournament once. Hall of Famer Al McGuire, who won a national title at the school in 1977, won 43 games his first three seasons at Marquette.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: March 23, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 7:46 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
So Mike Anderson is leaving one job for another. One BCS school for another. A lot of fans may be confounded by this because, on the surface, Arkansas and Missouri don’t appear to be too different in terms of status. In fact, right now, Missouri is in better shape than Arkansas (though Arkansas is still slated to have a firm freshman class coming in next season). So it's tough to justify the move in a few ways.
Well, Arkansas is a better job than Missouri; that's why Anderson is in the process of moving his life from Columbia to Fayetteville. Arkansas isn’t the school or program it once was, but when it’s winning and competing for SEC titles and Final Fours, it’s a top-20-in-the-country job, in my opinion. So that’s why Anderson’s going. That, and he’s an Arkansas guy; Anderson was an assistant at the school for more than 15 years under Nolan Richardson. Richardson: You know, the guy who delivered Arkansas its only national title, 17 years ago, then came within 40 minutes of winning another one the next year.
Anderson wasn't a candidate upon Richardson's departure nearly a decade ago. The school's doubled back on the man who made UAB a feared team in March during the mid-2000s and took Missouri to the Elite Eight in 2009. After five years, Anderson's leaving. This could have the potential to be great (yes, great) for both parties.
Without Anderson, Missouri appears to be in good shape in the short-term. Some may think the Tigers are in a lurch, but that's hardly the case. Anderson leaves the program with just one departing senior, Justin Safford, who averaged only 6.4 points per game this season. Check the roster. Four junior starters, who will be senior starters, are back next year, plus Missouri's been freed from Anderson's seven-year, multi-million dollar contract. That means the athletic director can chase VCU's Shaka Smart, Marquette's Buzz Williams or Richmond's Chris Mooney — all of whom would be considered home-run hires in Columbia.
All of them, as you know, are still coaching this week, as their teams are playing Thursday and Friday in the Sweet 16. With the Big 12 deflating to 10 teams next year (Colorado is going to the Pac-12; Nebraska to the Big Ten), coaching within the league also becomes an attractive option, as the overall challenge is lessened with two fewer squads, even if said squads were consistently in the Big 12 basement.
Smart and Williams now become the primary targets. Both have reputations and connections in the South, so if Missouri could snatch either one, they'd bolster the program's viability immediately. Plus, both have been winners in recent years, and isn't that the most important thing? If Mizzou is to "win" and come out of this with good face, then nabbing one of the three names listed above — or hoodwink us all and rope in a viable, familiar candidate currently coaching at another school — is the objective.
The Missouri job is a very good one, a job that should be attractive enough to lure away one of the cha-ching candidates you've heard floated over the past week. If that happens, Tigers fans shouldn't be sad one bit over Anderson leaving them behind. In fact, it might end up being in better shape than it was with Anderson.Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:37 am
Posted on: March 8, 2011 11:52 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
So, Pat Knight is out at Texas Tech. Not too surprising. He had the same impossible task Sean Sutton had when he took over a Big 12 program from his Hall of Fame father, if not worse. The Red Raiders don't have anywhere near the hoops pedigree that the Oklahoma State Cowboys do, but their expectations are now sky-high because they once got lucky and hired Bobby Knight for a cameo appearance.
I suspect the younger Knight will get another chance. But where does the Texas Tech administration turn now? Newspapers across the Lone Star state are throwing out wish lists, so let's examine some of the more rational suggestions:
Billy Gillispie (Ronin): His name always comes up first, and for good reason. The guy was a barn-burning success at UTEP and Texas A&M before he got in over his head at Kentucky. Texas is his home state, and he'd likely be welcomed back into the Big 12 with open arms. Billy Clyde looks like the top choice right now.
Buzz Williams (Marquette): Another straight-shootin' Texan, which is why his name seems to come up when locals start dreaming. I don't know how much money Tech has to spend on this kind of hire, but I'd have to think it would take a pretty good upgrade to entice Williams from the powerful Big East to an also-ran in the shrinking Big 12. They'd love his free-wheeling style down in Lubbock, though.
Joe Dooley (Kansas): If you can't beat 'em, hire 'em. Dooley's is one of the top names to come up for every open job when assistant coaches are interviewed. He has a pretty good deal where he is, and he's seen other former KU assistants (Tim Jankovich at Illinois State being the most recent) struggle to succeed when disconnected from the Allen Field House magic. Then again, he probably doesn't want to wait forever, and the Big 12 is a soft landing no matter what.
Doc Sadler (Nebraska): I scoffed the first time I read this, then it came up again and again. He's a former Red Raider assistant who is well thought of at the school, so maybe they will make a run at him. Sadler would have to judge for himself if the risk is worth it: is he jumping before he is pushed out of the Big Ten-bound Husker program, or is he giving up just before new facilities and a new conference home turn things around?
These are the most frequently mentioned names for the gig, and it's not a bad list. The issue at this point will be finding the right fit vs. reaching for the exciting, sexy headline pick. Which is not to say that the headline pick is always a fraud - look at Steve Lavin's first year at St. John's for proof that it can work. But there might be an assistant coach out there, perhaps someone as near as Rodney Terry or Russell Springmann from Texas, who is the right fit for the job, yet won't get his due as a candidate because he's not a big name. We watched other large-conference schools (Oregon, DePaul and Wake Forest come to mind) go through this last summer only to be turned down repeatedly.
Having just attended the CAA final yesterday, I'd like to throw another name into the hat. Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor is not a Texan and has no ties to the state that I'm aware of. But the former Montana Grizzlies point guard just won back-to-back conference championships, can recruit, coaches tough defense and has a way with the media. If his team pulls another upset or two in the NCAA tournament this season, he'll be a very hot commodity. Someone at Tech should have the vision to look far and wide to find Taylor and others like him who might be ready for the next step, regardless of name recognition.
Updated NCAA Division I coaching changes
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: March 2, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: March 2, 2011 10:17 am
Posted by Matt Norlander
I have no idea what inspired this, but regardless, I'm eternally thankful. Marquette coach Buzz Williams really breaks out some moves on "All the Single Ladies," as he's given an iPod and a pair of headphones to, well, just watch and hope we get a part two later this month.
"Is it Boston?"
For shame, Buzz. Who can't immediately recognize the awful aural exercise that is Bon Jovi?
(Vid via many a Twitter account, tip)
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:48 am
Edited on: February 25, 2011 10:13 am
Posted by Matt Norlander
HARTFORD, Conn. — Marquette will get out of February with back-to-back wins.
Taking two in a row hasn't been easy for the Golden Eagles this season. The last time Buzz Williams' team did it was Jan. 5, a two-game winning streak after it knocked off West Virginia at home and Rutgers at the RAC. That's hardly an impressive double dip of Ws in the eyes of the Selection Committee.
Needing a worthwhile win in the worst of ways Thursday night, the Golden Eagles went into the XL Center and got one, dramatically and unexpectedly, given Marquette's pattern of recent behavior, taking down Connecticut in overtime, 74-67. Now Marquette, after beating mediocre Seton Hall at home last Saturday, finally knows again what it feels like to win two in a row. It's small, but it's a winning streak. And it's got to continue, for there are no more statement games left in the Golden Eagles' regular season — only pitfalls amid a brief trek through a transparent minefield.
Golden Eagles Forward Jimmy Butler sported a smile and welcomed a pelting of questions from a small pool of reporters outside the Marquette locker room in the wake of the win. He was honest and casual about his team's improved tournament chances — however slim the improvement may be.
"I have no idea," Butler said. "I don't know what it takes to get into the tournament; I hear you've got to win 10 games in the Big East. So we're on our way to that, and we're now worrying about Providence next."
Butler and his teammates are motivated by things beyond what's rumored to be a water mark for Big Dance inclusion. Again, with gusto: For as nice and needed a victory as this was, a streak must put compiled for posterity's sake. Williams' team is looking at Providence and Cincinnati at home in the next week before finishing up at Seton Hall on March 5. Then the Big East tournament comes, and surely a win or two over shoo-in tournament teams needs to happen for the 17-11 Golden Eagles to feel secure entering Selection Sunday on March 12.
"This is a start. This is a start to win out," Marquette forward Jae Crowder (above) said. "We need to win out to be ready for the Big East tournament."
After struggling this season with close games (Marquette's record prior to Thursday night in games decided by less than five points: 3-6), the Golden Eagles won the first one that was forced to be decided in 45 minutes. UConn had 28 offensive rebounds ... and yet shot a miserable 36 percent from the field.
"I don't know if I've ever seen that before, to be honest with you," UConn assistant George Blaney said. Blaney was subbing, as he's done on many occasions, for head coach Jim Calhoun, who tended to his family in New Hampshire in the wake of the death of his sister-in-law.
The UConn assistant was echoed by his counterpart, who didn't try to qualify with logic or reason why his team pulled out a tough, close win on the road against a tournament team — something it hasn't shown it can do to this point.
"I don't know that there's necessarily any way statistically you can explain how we won," Williams said. "We couldn't make a shot. They got every 50-50 ball in the second half. They absolutely hammered us on the offensive glass. But our guys hung in there."
Marquette was able to put itself into the conversation of making the tournament once again (if it did, we could be looking at 11 Big East teams going, a new record by a margin of two) because of the clutch late play of one guy (Golden Eagle Darius Johnson-Odom) and the lack of it from another (Connecticut's Kemba Walker). Johnson-Odom had 17 points, 11 of which came in the final seconds of regulation and in overtime.
"It was me trying to force the issue too much," Walker said.Blaney said the team was "commanding" Walker do it by himself.
Walker had two turnovers in regulation and forced about seven bad shots down the stretch. He's a Player of the Year candidate no more. Jae Crowder said he and his teammates anticipated Walker to try and take the responsibility when the Huskies trailed 34-23 at the half.
"We knew — we knew — especially at halftime we talked about it, that he was going to try and take over at some point," Crowder said. "We didn't know when that point was going to be, but he would try to ... jack up a lot of balls."
Crowder had a couple of really important rebounds in the second half, ironic because UConn grabbed 54 percent of its missed shots. Coming off the bench, Crowder had a team-high 11 of the 43 Marquette snares.
"As you can see, the shooting percentages were down in both halves," Crowder said of his group's overall 37.1-percent effort from the field. "We had to play great defense because the shots weren't falling."
Crowder, Butler, Johnson-Odom, they all were of one mind when it came to the final three games of the schedule: being mentally strong and putting off thoughts of the Big East tournament, which looms large over their team's tournament chances, is of the utmost importance. But the mind wanders, naturally. If Marquette were to lose to Providence or Seton Hall, the impact of the UConn win would most likely dwindle in the eyes of the Selection Committee.
"We're aware of that," Crowder said. "This is what can start it for us. It must."
The head coach does not and will not pretend to gauge where his team stands.
"I don't know what the appropriate response is (to winning) because I think that college basketball has come ... there's so many people who are covering, and everybody has an opinion," Williams said. "You can really get lost in the numbers of it — the bubble and the teams. ... We had to be consumed with tonight's game, not relative to winning or losing [and] how it impacts us two weeks from now."
But the impact can and must start with what happened Thursday night. A winning streak began, and it can't end any time soon if Marquette wants to join more than half of its conference brethren in the NCAA tournament, which begins less than three weeks from now.