Marquette coach Buzz Williams began his first press conference of the 2013-14 season the way he does many things– unconventionally.
“I never know what to say to you guys, you already know everything,” Williams told Milwaukee media Friday. “So I’ll just open it up to any questions because I know whatever I say in the first four minutes, you guys just stare at me and you already have your angle for your story. I don’t want to be inefficient with that time.”
The first question he received was a familiar one, regarding how the Golden Eagles would respond to losing Vander Blue to the NBA Draft and Junior Cadougan and Trent Lockett to graduation.
“It is always the same first question at media day here,” Williams said. “You lost so much, who’s going to replace? I don’t know if that’s typical or atypical. Is it going to be one or two guys? I don’t think so. All of our guys, old, returning and new, are going to have to find a way to contribute.”
Williams said he’s been “really bad” answering questions related to the realignment of the Big East over the last three years, but recounted a recent answer that best describes his position.
“For basketball only institutions, we can only participate in a small percentage of the change,” he said. “And considering (that), I think we’re in the best position we can be in. For all of the (institutions that remained with and joined the Big East) it’s paramount that their men’s basketball program is successful.
“When you win, regardless of the league, regardless of the day and regardless of the locale you’re putting yourself in the best position you can be in. The best antidote for the league change is for Marquette to win.”
While Marquette is expected by many to finish in the upper echelon of the new Big East, Williams said he doesn’t see such predictions as impactful on his team’s performance. Instead, he “wakes up every morning like we’re in last place.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the people who predict about Marquette have never been to the Bradley Center,” Williams said. “They just say ‘Buzz is a character and the team plays real hard, and then they’ve had a lot of success in the NCAA tournament. Let’s just pick them in the top three.’ You’ve got better odds in Vegas. I could teach you more about dice than that in five minutes.”
As for the identity of this season’s Golden Eagles, Williams hopes to get back to a fast-paced style of play, after describing last season’s team as a “grind-it-out, beat-you-up” squad that had to ensure every shot it took was a quality one.
“At a coaching clinic, I don’t want to coach like that,” Williams said. “I think that fast beats big when fast is fast. I think we’re probably a little bit back towards where we can play a little faster. I don’t know that for sure. I hope that by finals week, I’ll have a better feel for what our identity is.”
In regards to improved recruiting due to the team’s recent success, Williams stressed the importance of “remembering the formula” and pursuing “OKG’s (our kind of guys)” during the recruiting process.
Williams also mentioned the thin lines between being bad, good and great and that the truly great coaches, players and teams stand the test of time.
“There are more one-and-done songs that all of us know than there are albums that we remember,” Williams said. “We can’t name who sang that song we remember, because it was just one song. I think it’s the same thing with the team, but I think more importantly, it’s the same thing with a program.”