LEXINGTON, Ky. — All I want to do for the rest of my life is cover Buzz Williams press conferences. The Marquette coach was thoroughly entertaining on Saturday night after his team beat Butler. There was a mini-rant against the NCAA in there, and a discussion of the parallels between coaching and journalism, and a mention of the different colors of fire.
The key part came after he declined to answer a question from Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News about how Marquette changed its defense on the last play of the game, which led to a missed shot by Butler. Williams explained that he didn’t want to give away his strategy. The moderator asked for another question. Then Williams decided to follow up.
COACH WILLIAMS: This is what I think, Roger. What happens is, there’s a very fragile line in your life and your industry. As your industry has changed, people have lost a lot of their jobs, their livelihoods. Families have changed, the Internet, Twitter, guys that have no journalistic experience that have none of the skills that you guys have that portray themselves as if they’re Roger, as if they’re Pat [Forde of Yahoo!], and they’re garbage, but yet in Twitter-verse they get the same swag that you guys get.
Here is my point: There’s a fragile line in our industry, too, and that fragile line is how hard it is to get a job, how hard it is to get a good job and of the small collection of good jobs, how hard it is to have a good job and make it a great job. The hardest thing in life to get is momentum and the hardest thing in life to keep is momentum.
…As humble as I can say it, I want to see if we can win another game in the NCAA tournament, and so the reason why my question — my answer to your question is no, because the next game we play is going to be a one-possession game, I hope, just like the last two I’ve played.
If you look at our box scores over the last eight games, six of them have been decided by one possession or less and we’re 6-2. So I’m not a genius. I don’t want to be a genius. I don’t want to be Mr. Tactician. I don’t want our program known in that regard. I want — I don’t want to be tactical, I want to be tough. But in our toughness, that’s what’s missed. Within that toughness, there’s a discipline that is required to have that toughness. We do some things but it’s never said, and I’m OK with that. But I don’t want to tell you that because I want to pass the Sweet 16 test — are we playing Thursday?
NCAA MODERATOR: I’d have to check.
WILLIAMS: How about the NCAA has got — what time is it? We got to fly out of here. All the money that’s being generated, we can’t go back over to the hotel and lay down and order a hamburger.
MODERATOR (smiling): I have nothing to do with that.
WILLIAMS (smiling, sort of): I was asking you what time we played. You didn’t know that either. I thought I would pile it on.
Later, asked about his star player, Vander Blue:
WILLIAMS: His competitiveness overwhelms our team. His fire burns really, really bright and it’s not orange, it’s white, it’s that hot.
Finally, on the emotions of beating Butler after losing to them on a last-second shot in November:
WILLIAMS: I tell our kids this all the time, unlike school, I think God gives you the same test over and over and over in your life, no matter your age, no matter your gender, no matter where you’re from. You get the same test over and over. Until you pass it, you’re going to keep getting the same test.
(I suspect he is on the plane as I write this, still talking.)