To Elite 8: MU beats MIami 71-61

To Elite 8: MU beats MIami 71-61

After winning the first two games of the NCAA Tournament by 1 pt to Davidson and 2 pts to Butler, MU finally won one going away with a 71-61 win over Miami on Thursday night. The win put Marquette's in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003. Jamil Wilson led the team with 16 pts while the patient Vander Blue added 14 pts. The third-seeded Golden Eagles (26-8, 14-4 Big East)

will play the winner of the Indiana vs Syracuse game in the East Regional final on Saturday.

Talk about it on our message boards.

Here are the post game quotes

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Marquette, we will take an opening statement from Coach.

COACH WILLIAMS: We're thankful to still be playing.

Q. Can you talk about what it's like to get Marquette to the first Elite Eight under Buzz and just for yourself, what's it been like, this year, you hit the shot against Davidson this game, do you feel you've played at an especially high level this month?

VANDER BLUE: I wouldn't say it's just me. I would say it's our whole team, guys finding me in the spots, taking practice, shots I shoot every day, and believing in myself. Like I said before, this whole Elite Eight thing this is everybody from Coach Williams, to our weight trainer, to Adrian, our academic advisor, it's going about business and never getting comfortable. We could have easily let the season go downhill and it's about this group of guys that is so relentless and we never want to give up and we give our grace to God and without him nothing is possible. We can celebrate this now but we're hungry for more.

Q. From shutting from your pounding the ball inside to shutting down their perimeter game has the game plan gone this well for you guys this season?

TRENT LOCKETT: Miami is a tremendous team, lots of weapons, but I think our again, going back, our coaching staff is really, really good. They put together a great plan and just proud of the way that everybody bought in, not just today but like Vander said, every day, we had a great week of preparation and I think it showed tonight.

VANDER BLUE: I just think we prepare for them, like we were prepared for any other team. We did the same routine and I think our guys did a lot of preparing without the coaches not being around, a lot of guys like to study guys we're going to guard and study their tendencies and that helped us today, and that helped us slow down Shane Larkin, because slowing down Shane Larkin he pretty much runs that team, he's the engine for them, so we wanted to make sure that we got the ball out of his hands and paid a lot of attention on Scott as well, because if you pay attention to Shane Larkin, Durand Scott can have a big night so I think we actually hit 'em well, our bigs did a great job on the ball screens and I think that really changed the game of how well Davante and Chris guarded the ball screens.

JAMIL WILSON: I agree with these guys and we had a great week of preparation. At the beginning of the week we went over all their things, we continued to go over reps and guys bought in, two weeks in, had the mind set to get better, keep progressing as a team, and then we stuck to ourselves, guys would go over things we did so we wouldn't lose confusion with what we were doing. I think as a team we did a good job.

Q. For any of the players after a couple of close calls in the first two games, what is it like when things go right almost from the start?

JAMIL WILSON: I think that it's great. It's fantastic. It feels good not to have to worry about are you going to lose on a last second shot or are you going to win on a last second shot. To have a cushion like that. These guys played with tremendous heart and we did it all game. From start to finish we felt like we had to keep pushing, so we didn't let up and they would get back in the game and as you saw in the last two minutes they were knockin' them down and if we would have let up in the game, it could have easily gone the other way so I applaud these guys for their hard work and everything we do.

Q. Vander, by perception alone, a few people looked at last weeks scores and said maybe these guys squeaked through. What led you to believe that you were ready to go this far in the tournament?

VANDER BLUE: I think when we first realized we were not ranked in the top 25, and preseason we were ranked 7 in our conference that made us upset and made us work harder. But we don't buy into all that, we do the same thing every day and think about the boot camp we went through and individual workouts, stuff that the other teams aren't doing, that gives us the edge and everybody on our staff is competitive and wants more and in these guys I know Julian and Trent want to go out making history and that's what it's all about. We all care about each other, it's not just about me, I wanna win for Trent and Junior, it's about coming early, setting goals, and reaching those goals.

Q. Trent, so transferring before the season, going back to Milwaukee, obviously special for a lot of reasons, you probably had some expectations. Up to this point have they been met, have they exceeded what you thought playing for Coach Williams and playing for the others on the team?

TRENT LOCKETT: This has been more than I could have asked for, a great experience, but like Vander said, we're not ready for it to be over. Playing for Coach Williams is an honor and everything I expected it to be going into it, he cares for his players at the end of the day, that's his biggest things and regard it's what he does substitutionwise, game planwise, he's trying to win and that's something you can buy into at the end of the day. He wants to win as much as the next guy.

My experience at Marquette has been great mostly because of these guys up here and the guys in the locker room and I just thank them for accepting me.

Q. Jamil, your coach talks a lot about toughness and that's how he wants his team defined. Can you describe what the word "toughness" means to you guys and can you talk about that boot camp that you had?

JAMIL WILSON: I feel like toughness means to us getting up and showing up every day. One of Buzz' favorite quotes is get up and ring the bell every day. So as a group we build toughness by going every day into practice, you know, and practicing hard. Trying not to give a day away or a shot away or a rep away of anything because at the end of the day you're going to need that rep and especially in this part of the season, in March, crucial possessions can come back and haunt you in the second half.

So we just define toughness by being there every possession and every four minutes, we try to break things down so they aren't so big, we break things down into a smaller session, and boot camp is not really something you can explain in words, but you can say a whole lot of shoes squeaking, a whole lot of yelling, some guys falling

VANDER BLUE: A lot of barfing.

JAMIL WILSON: A lot of barfing and Coach says before boot camp starts it's where we're going to be made as a team and it's where you guys can show your true colors and I've been there each and every day and that's where as a team we grow as a team because you depend on each and every person to pull their own weight, like in the regular season Vander can go off for a big game or Trent can and he carries us but at boot camp everybody depends on each other so at the end of the day that's where our team is built.

Q. Vander, you mentioned on Tuesday that ESPN article that ranked you guys dead last among the Sweet 16 teams.

COACH WILLIAMS: We will be dead last when we wake up on Saturday, too, I guess we will be 8th out of 8.

Q. How big was the revenge factor, the chip on your shoulder, no one is giving you credit, did that fuel you guys as a team?

COACH WILLIAMS: It was Myron Metcalf, that wrote that, he lives in the same town that Trent lives in.

TRENT LOCKETT: Sure does.

VANDER BLUE: We're used to people not giving us credit, saying we were no good. If you were to look at our roster no one would expect us to be a Elite Eight team, our guys don't get into that much, but it's good to know if you step on to the court, if you don't give us respect, we're going to earn it, as we work harder than, I feel, anybody in the country and we don't have the name of North Carolina, Syracuse or Georgetown, but we are still here, we show up every single day, and no matter how anybody feels about, when you step in between those lines we're all equal and we feel like we can take on anybody. So everybody doubting us is normal to us, and I feel like they should keep doing it, because obviously it's helping us, we don't want to be the we want to keep being the hunters, we don't want to be the hunted. We want to go after people, we don't want people going after us.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.

Q. Buzz, I want to take you back to that first Sweet 16 of this three, when you guys were jumped right away out of North Carolina in Newark. How disappointed was that team? Was it disappointed at all? Did that stick with you guys as a sort of measuring stick on how much better you needed to be on nights like this?

COACH WILLIAMS: I have the utmost respect for Coach Williams. He's one of the few guys still coaching that's in the Hall of Fame. I thought they were outstanding. They were way better than we were in every way, in every facet. We finished 9 9 in the Big East that year, according to most people that are sitting out here we shouldn't have been the 11th team that went to the NCAA Tournament from our league. I distinctly remember the game.

Q. Buzz, obviously you guys fed off winning a couple of close ones

COACH WILLIAMS: I think they were lucky is what everybody said.

Q. However they were perceived, what's the psychological boost of winning a game in a more comfortable fashion?

COACH WILLIAMS: None. You play to win the game as Coach Edwards said. I don't think you play to win the game by the line, you play to win the game to win the game, whether it's 1 or 2 or 10.

Q. Buzz, you always preach about family. What's it like to hear your players recite your words up there?

COACH WILLIAMS: In the end, not today, not the Elite Eight, not the Sweet 16, in the end that's how I will be judged. So regardless of the perception of me, of our team, whether we're supposed to win, whether it's supposed to be an ugly game, in the end, none of those things matter. What matters is that the trust that was involved by most of those single parent Mom's that said "Buzz I trust you, take care of my boy because he's all I got."

So regardless of my attitude toward you guys, I have to be accountable to those mothers. In the end, that's how I'm going to be judged.

So who they become as men, who they become as future husband's, who they become as future fathers, who they become as future workers when their basketball career is over, I hope that the experience while together, that they learn from those experiences not those outcomes, from those experiences, that it better helps them. That we can pay it forward to Vander, Jr., to Trent, Jr., to Jamil, Jr.

Q. I want to talk to you about Vander Blue. About mid year you were asked in a press conference whether he would be considered for Big East Player of the Year and you said there was not a chance.

COACH WILLIAMS: And I was right, and everybody said I was being stupid.

Q. But he's clearly the type of player that could possibly lead you to an NCAA Tournament. In retrospect should he have gotten more consideration throughout the year?

COACH WILLIAMS: I can't vote for our own players. He was the Second Team All Conference player. He was the only All Conference player on our team. When I said that at Seton Hall everybody thinks I'm trying to skew my words. I'm as transparent as everybody you talk to. What shocks you guys is I tell you the truth. When Michael asked me that at Seton Hall, "No, Michael, I know he played good tonight, he's not going to be Player of the Year. We were picked preseason 7th."

And when the year was over and we won a share of the league, prior to arriving in New York, he was a Second Team All Conference player. There are six players that are either First Team or Player of the Year.

Q. Buzz, looks like you're playing your best basketball. Is that true? What's that feel like?

COACH WILLIAMS: I think we have had a pretty good March. We played really bad against Notre Dame, and I think Notre Dame is really good. For whatever reason throughout our tenure, Notre Dame has always caused us problems because in some ways they're just different than we are, and I don't think that we handled winning the league the right way, but I think that gettin' whipped by Notre Dame recentered us emotionally. I do think that despite what's been written because of the scores, I do think that we're playing pretty good. That doesn't mean ear going to win on Saturday but to get to this point obviously you have to play well.

Q. Can you talk about the boot camp and what it means to your team's toughness? COACH WILLIAMS: That's where our team is formed. That's what I said for five years, and that's kinda it.

Q. Congratulations. The defensive effort, were you satisfied? Were you pleased with it? Especially the one player I was looking at was Derrick Wilson, and his ability to lock in on Shane Larkin.

COACH WILLIAMS: He's a pretty good player for never having scored in the NCAA Tournament. I love Derrick, and I thought he was critical in our game against Butler. I thought Trent Lockett's job, defensively against Roosevelt Jones, huge minutes by both of those guys defensively. I would say tonight, as collectively talented as Miami is, you can't play individual defense, because they'll annihilate. It has to be a team effort. I thought our rotations were really good, I thought our ball screen coverage for the most part was probably as good as it has been. Davante and Chris are great, but what ends up happening is if you don't guard their ball screens they're going to score. If you don't guard their ball screens and they shoot and miss because they've put in you rotation they're going to get offensive rebounds and score.

So you can't pinpoint one player, but I thought collectively the preparation for our guys Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and this afternoon was really good, because Miami is as good as anybody in the country. You don't win the ACC, win the ACC Tournament, have the Player of the Year, the defensive Player of the Year, have a Final Four coach because of one thing or two things, it's multiple things so you have to defend 'em in multiple ways.

Q. After beating Butler you talked about passing the Sweet 16 test and that's the next step don't. You seem edgy, how much do you think this team still has to do?

COACH WILLIAMS: That's a good question. I'm really proud of 'em. I'm really thankful to coach 'em. I love who they are. I love how they're maturing. I respect how they he work. I have admiration for the hours that our staff puts into our program, and because of my path to this point I do have an edge, and I probably need to have better wisdom in how I handle that edge, but it's really delicate because our edge is why we win. So it's just hard for me at 40 to okay, this is how I'm going to be during the game and I'm going to shut that down until we play again.

I'm really not good postgame, actually I'm really not good at all day of the game to you, my wife, my kids, because I do want to win, and I don't want to win for the outcome, I want to make sure that I and our team learn the lessons from what the day is going to give us.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you.

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