Buzz’s bittersweet ending

Hayward, Acker and Cubillan ended their seasons in heartbreaking fashion against Washington.

On Tuesday, Marquette’s basketball coach Buzz Williams met with the media for the last time regarding the 2009-’10 season. Still trying to get the sour taste out of his mouth, he said he didn’t really want to talk. He had good reason.

“I would definitely like to be watching tape on West Virginia again as opposed to talking to you guys,” Williams said.

The way the Golden Eagles went out was simply salt in the wound for a team that battled in nearly every game, but came up just short when it mattered most.

“We got in because of one-possession wins, and we went out the same way,” Williams said. “Maybe that’s fitting.”

This was pegged as a rebuilding year for the second-year coach. Last season, he was blessed with three talented senior guards. But coming into this season, many questioned his ability to rebuild and coach an inexperienced squad. Williams took on the challenge and defied the greatest of odds.

As Williams’ success becomes more evident on a national level, rumors continue to stir about him being sought out at other universities.

“I want to deal with it the right way,” Williams said about handling the attention. “I think it’s positive. I’d rather be called an up-and-comer than a short-and-about-to-be-gone.”

Williams said he’ll be at Marquette as long as the program will have him and with that, he’s already focused on next season.

“I’m not very good at saying goodbye in any sort of way, and that’s probably the best way for me to handle it — go back to work,” he said.

“I really like the guys that we signed,” Williams said. “I think they can help us. We’ve got to sign some more.”

Williams commented that everyone says the team needs a big man, and while he didn’t deny the fact, he had a quick response.

“We need really good players is what we need,” he said.

This season, Williams proved he can produce a winning roster without a post presence so long as he has “good players.”

One such asset is junior college transfer Darius Johnson-Odom. Despite missing Williams’ annual preseason boot camp, the sophomore guard handled his orders admirably all season and must be just as valuable if the Golden Eagles are to succeed next season.

“It’s going to be vital,” Johnson-Odom said. “I already got started today with a little bit of leadership — trying to get guys here to work out, not taking so much time off. We saw what happened this year. We fought through a lot this year, overcame a lot. I wish we were still playing in the tournament, but that’s how things go.”

Although Johnson-Odom appears to be a lock for the 2010-’11 starting lineup, the Golden Eagles will be loaded at the guard position and everyone will be competing for a spot.

“I think that’s the best part of a team — the competition,” Johnson-Odom said. “You want to see what guys have the fight and what guys really want to play and how bad they really want it. I know we have some real good recruits coming in, and that’s going to be real nice to see once practice starts.”

As some player’s careers end and others begin, senior guard David Cubillan summed up his experience at Marquette as a blessing and an unforgettable opportunity.

“It’s been the best four years of my life,” he said on Senior Day against Notre Dame. “I’m blessed to be a part of Marquette basketball. I’m thankful for all the people that I’ve met, former coaches, former players and the players that are on the team now.”

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