Humbled Williams exits NCAA tournament with class

Photo by Danny Alfonzo/
Photo by Danny Alfonzo/

Buzz Williams didn’t have a list of reasons to explain why his team wasn’t cutting down the nets.

The Marquette coach had just one.

“They beat us from start to finish,” Williams said. “I think that’s part of the problem in the world and in our industry.  If you got beat, say you got beat. Don’t come up with a litany of excuses on why it didn’t work.”

Following a 55-39 loss to Syracuse that ended Marquette’s season in the Elite Eight, the coach sat humbled and reserved on the dais.

“We were prepared,” Williams said. “We did all the preparation that we should have done leading into today’s game. There were pockets of time when we were okay, but you don’t shoot 53 shots and make 12 and say, well, we just didn’t make shots, or we weren’t feeling good. No, they beat us.”

“I mean that not sarcastically, I mean that as sincerely as I could possibly say it to you.”

While admitting defeat, the coach was adamant that Marquette had “tried everything it knew to try.”

“Like I said, that was our seventh game playing Syracuse,” Williams said. “We’re 3‑4 against them during our tenure here.  We’ve added, maybe, a little bit each time that we’ve played ’em, maybe different things to try to counter their zone.”

Williams credited the Orange’s talented roster and modestly stated he “isn’t as good of a coach as” Orange coach Jim Boeheim.

He even expressed compassion and happiness for Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams, who lost his family home to a fire during last season’s NCAA tournament.

“That’s extremely sad at any point in time, particularly at this time of year for a kid that has as much at stake as he does,” Williams said. “So happy for him.”

Williams admitted that he would miss playing the Orange in the Big East, and that he’ll be “rooting for Syracuse” to win the National Championship.

As for his own team, Williams said he’d remember this season fondly from start to finish.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Williams said. “The kids always talk about the preseason…that’s where our team is formed, not just on the floor. That’s where our team is formed off the floor, during fall break. We go out in the woods where the cell phones don’t work, and there are not any TVs.”

“I remember those things more so than I remember who we played or where we played, because I think it’s those things that put us in a position to play games such as this, so I distinctly remember it.”

To close, he reminded his media audience how easily success can be taken for granted, and the importance of foundation upon values to attain that success.

“There (are) a lot of coaches that are really good and a lot of players that are really good that didn’t make it (to the NCAA tournament) this year,” Williams said. “When you talk about the togetherness and the toughness and those things, everything we do is built on the foundation of trust. It’s built on the foundation of love.  If you don’t have trust and you don’t have love, I don’t think that you’ll ever have success.”

“As much as we want to go for the Final Four and the Elite Eight or Sweet 16, however you want to calculate and measure those things, you can’t take for granted the work involved. But you don’t get to this point unless from top to bottom there is incredible love and incredible trust.”