When Tom Crean left Marquette to take on the
lost cause enormous task of trying to rebuild the Indiana basketball program there was some concern in Milwaukee about how it would affect the Marquette program. After all, Crean had helped put the Golden Eagles back on the map with a Final Four appearance back in 2003. Well, MU and new coach Buzz Williams don’t seem to have skipped a beat without Crean, as they’re currently ranked 8th in the country with a 19-2 mark, and are the only team in the Big East with an undefeated conference mark.
Buzz Williams: A man who isn’t shy about his feelings or farts
So the program is once again garnering some national attention from the media, which is a good thing. Though at the same time, being recognized nationally as a title threat also brings the added pressures of expectations. It’s something that Buzz Williams is fully aware of, and it would seem that the pressure is kind of getting to him. When fomer Marquette standout and current radio analyst Jim McIlvaine asked him about it after his team beat Georgetown on Saturday, Buzz kind of blew up.
From the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL:
McIlvaine: ”Coach, you’re on an 11-game winning streak, 8-0 in the Big East, obviously the number, the ranking, is going down. How do you keep the kids focused and not buying into the hype and all the ancillary stuff? How do you get them focused for the next game?”
Williams: ”Well, I appreciate what you said, Mac, and I know that you played here and had a lot of success here. We pay absolutely no attention to anything said by the media, said within the media, and I’m not trying to be condescending, but I don’t think you win 11 straight games, eight straight games in the Big East, if you’re focusing on the wrong things. And so I’m somewhat offended that you would even ask that, because what you should talk about is the character and the heart of our players. That’s what should be talked about. Talking about how we focus for the next game? Why don’t you talk about, Mac, how we focused on this game? Why don’t you talk about how we focused on every single Big East game? And for you as the home-team radio announcer to be asking some sort of question like that, it sounds like you’re employed by someone other than Marquette. That’s disappointing that you would ask that, being that you’re a former player. You should be as proud of the collection of 12 guys that put on the uniform and that absolutely play their heart out at 6-6 and under against great teams on a nightly basis.”
McIlvaine: “Oh, I am extremely proud of the guys, Coach. I’m just asking if there’s anything you do as a coach to just keep these guys focused. I mean, obviously you’re doing a great job of it. I was just wondering if there was anything to it.”
Williams: ”We’ll do the same thing, Mac, that we’ve done every single day in the 296 days that I’ve been employed. That’s wake up early, that’s go to work and work as long as we can until our eyes fall asleep. That’s what we do. That’s what we do every day, whether that’s in the season or out of the season, non-conference or conference.”
A few minutes later Williams would be asked the same question in the post-game press conference and handle it a lot more calmly, even admitting that he probably was a bit too harsh on McIlvaine a few minutes before. Williams’ outburst was then talked about for the next couple of days in Milwaukee — what else is there to do in Milwaukee? — and actually became somewhat of a controversy.
In fact, things got so bad that Williams felt the need to apologize to McIlvaine for getting his panties in a bunch on Monday afternoon when appearing on Steve “The Homer” True’s show on 540-AM.
“I just wanted to make sure, in the same manner that I did not handle things right for the 94-second diatribe that I had on Saturday afternoon, I wanted to make sure that in the same forum, that I called in and in 94 seconds apologize to Jim McIlvaine specifically, to you, Homer, and also to the loyal listeners of our team, of your program, our alumni, our administration,” Williams said.
“I did not handle things appropriately. I am hellbent on protecting our players. That had absolutely nothing to do with Mac, and there’s no justification for how I handled things. I understand that there is a responsibility in how I handle the media. We pray every day before practice, and we pray before every game, and we had just said Amen because we pray after the conclusion of every game, and I was very emotional, as I typically am — although I try to do a good job of not showing that.
“But I want to publicly apologize, because I did not handle that in the right way, and I’ll do my absolute best to make sure that, throughout my tenure, I do not handle that in the same way again. So I apologize to you, Mac, I apologize to you, Homer.”
Well thank God that’s over with. I hadn’t slept since Saturday since I was worried sick that Buzz and Jimmy were never going to be friends again. Now I feel as if anything is possible because if both Williams and McIlvaine can bury the hatchet, then surely that quarrel between Israel and Palestine can be solved.