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Buzz Williams highlights from today’s press conference

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Marquette coach Buzz Williams spoke to media today about tomorrow’s Elite Eight matchup with Syracuse. Here are the always amusing highlights of the afternoon conversation.

On two Big East teams playing for a trip to the Final Four: 

“I wish we weren’t playing each other. Maybe if we were in different region, maybe we could both continue to play. I guess I haven’t thought about it in that regard. When I think about the Big East, I think about Coach Jim Boeheim. I think about Coach Jim Calhoun. I think about Coach Rick Pitino, Coach John Thompson, Jr., so I haven’t thought about it like that.”

On his relationship with his players on and off the court:

“I’m way more compassionate than you would think off the floor, and I have zero compassion on the floor. In the lines, the game is pure, so no matter what has been written or what you’re ranked, whether it’s shirts or skins or national TV, inside the lines the game is pure.  I coach that way.”

“Off the floor I’ll do anything that I can to make sure that our kids understand that I love them and care for them, not as players but as people. I think my relationship with Trent is along that line. I don’t holler and scream at him any different because of the nature of why he transferred to Marquette than I scream and holler at Steve Taylor who is a freshman.”

“I scream and holler at ’em all the time. It’s an equal opportunity deal.”

On playing Syracuse again.

“I don’t want to play Syracuse again. Well, you know them and you know their zone, I know all that. I don’t want to play ’em. I would rather play somebody else. But it’s part of having so many good teams in our league that go to the NCAA tournament.”

“I don’t know exactly what you can accomplish the day in between the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight from a physical nature. I think a lot of your practice is mental, and a lot of your learning on the floor and in the conference room is mental.”

On Davante Gardner’s impact in the regular season win, and in tomorrow’s game:

“I don’t think they wanted him to score 26 points when we played them. He played really well that night. I don’t he will play that well again, and that’s only because he’s never played that well before or since. So — he played incredible. But we do need him to play.”

“If you look at the games where we’ve won, the games where we’ve lost, Davante is a big pendulum swing in that, so he’s important to our team for sure.”

On potentially going to the Final Four and joining the ranks of other Big East coaches to reach it:

“That’s why I had to go to a junior college. They have that word ‘association’ like on the SAT. If that question would have been on the SAT I would have gotten that right. I don’t belong.”

“I don’t view myself in that regard, I don’t have a lens introspective of who I am. That’s not why I do this. Obviously I’m humbled to be in this position, and I’m not doing it for the outcome, I’m doing it for the lives that are changed because of the experience.”

“Maybe at some point in my career, maybe I will think like that by accident, but I struggle with enjoying and being absorbed in the moment in that regard. I absorb and enjoy the moment to get better and to improve and to figure things out, but I never look at things that way.”

“That’s only because if you were to look at my path to this point, there is no possible way that you could say that I would have ever gotten to this point, much less get to the point that you’re talking about.”

A back-and-forth with a reporter:

Q.  Coach, your research is legendary.  I wondered if you have any connection to the close call like you had with Davidson and then having a deep run, if you were the first to do that?

COACH WILLIAMS:  I’m not sure how that would correlate I haven’t studied anything like that, but I’m sure that’s happened.  Has there been a team that goes the to Sweet 16 winning by 3 points.  I don’t know, you know if there has been, that’s a small number, has there been?  Do you know the answer to that?

Q.  Syracuse famously won in 03, they trailed by 17 in the second round to Oklahoma State and came back and beat ’em and the rest is history?

COACH WILLIAMS:  That was what Coach Sutton was at Oklahoma State?

Q.  Correct, famous for the line “These macadamia nut cookies are delicious.”

COACH WILLIAMS:  That’s what Coach Sutton said?  How about my man he says if you want to talk to our players it’s by the media buffet.

Q.  That’s how you’re going to get people there.  You survived a game, you become better because of it?

COACH WILLIAMS:  For sure.  I think that the close games, the game against UCONN when Coach Autry was coaching our team, I think the game at Pitt when Davante threw it at the band, in the zoo, that went into overtime, I think the game at the Garden against St. John’s, the game against Davidson and Butler, I’m missing a few, the game against Butler when we lost earlier in the year, I think all of those things grow you up.  Even when you lose I think they grow you up if you’re looking to learn in the right regard.

I hope that we can play well enough tomorrow that we’re in that same situation with Syracuse.

Q.  If you were in the same situation on this stage, would you play the Jake Thomas card again?

COACH WILLIAMS:  Yes.  I think Jake can shoot.  The times that Jake has played, he’s changed the complexion of our team.  We got beat at Green Bay and I know you were there, I would still run the same play for Jake to take the shot.  I trust Jake.  Just because he doesn’t play a lot of meaningful minutes, he works every day, our players respect him, he’s accountable for his work, he’s a really fun kid to be around, and I don’t say that about a lot of kids because I’m not necessarily always a fun coach to be around but I like Jake, and I hope that he has an impact tomorrow.

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