By David K.
Monday night, a group of friends and I got together at a watering hole on Chicagoâ€™s North-side to watch the NCAA Championship game.Â It was a reunion of sorts as the majority of bodies around our table were all alumni of Marquette University.Â As we reminisced about the past and shot the breeze on the present, I received a text message confirming that Buzz Williams was set to be named the next head coach at Marquette University.Â I read the official news out loud and it was met with the exact same reaction from all MU alumni present; actually there wasnâ€™t really any reaction at all.Â The evening continued as we returned to our bar food and bottles of beer, and went back to watching Memphis and Kansas with little to no discussion on the new leader of the Golden Eagles.
That lack of buzz among passionate Marquette fans strongly illustrates that Williams was the â€œsafe pickâ€ by Marquette administration as they needed to act to quickly in replacing Tom Crean.Â The 35-year-old Williams was Creanâ€™s top recruiter last season, his only as an assistant at MU.Â He is considered the â€œsafe pickâ€ because he will probably be able to do the most damage control in terms of keeping returning players and new recruits in honoring their decision to play college basketball in Milwaukee.Â With that said his hiring also seemed to be a temporary solution; at least that was my initial thought until I read he had agreed to a six-year deal, which seems to be an unusually lengthy commitment for an unproven coach.
Who knows what to expect on the court when it comes to Xâ€™s and Oâ€™s with Williams.Â In his lone season as a Division One head coach, his New Orleans Privateers finished with a below five-hundred season.Â Williams does not bring the big-name value or resume of a Bob Knight, Tony Bennett, Sean Miller, or the dozens of other names rumored to be in the running once Crean fled for Indiana.Â But flashback to 1999 when Marquette hired Crean who, to the common fan, was a little-known assistant coach from Michigan State with absolutely no head coaching experience at the D-1 level.Â That worked out pretty well, didnâ€™t it?Â
When Williams was formally introduced during his press conference on Tuesday morning, he said all the right things; vehemently proclaiming that this era of Golden Eagle basketball will be all about the team on the floor, and not centered around the guy wearing the stylish suit and yelling instructions from the bench.Â In other words, Williams will be a playerâ€™s coach, which is exactly what Marquette needs for the immediate future in hopes of avoiding a mass exodus of players and becoming a bottom-feeder in the Big East, ruining the foundation that Crean built the past decade.Â
That player-first attitude is seemingly paying dividends already.Â When asked about the possibility of declaring for the NBA Draft and whether or not Crean would be involved in the process, Dominic James was quoted as saying, â€œI’ve got a new head coach.Â My future is in the hands of somebody else right now.”Â Not only is Jamesâ€™ future in the hands of Williams, but more importantly, so is the future of Marquette basketball.Â
Time will tell if lightning can strike on back-to-back hires for Marquette University.Â Hopefully, Buzz Williams will make my friends and I look like fools for overlooking his hire a decade down the road and not leave us once again searching for answers in a few years.Â