Then AD Steve Cottingham decided that the key qualification for hiring any coach at Marquette was recruiting, recruiting and the ability to recruit, in that order. Buzz proved he could recruit but also showed that he could coach and work with top talent and make them better. Wesley Matthews improved his Senior yr…his post-up game…his outside shot…the individual skill workouts sure helped Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler. So Buzz could find talent, develop it and coach it up in the game with the signature toughness and work ethic…
Early in Buzz's first season, it was ESPN's Fran Fraschilla who said during a Jan game, ‘Marquette is a veteran team with James, Matthews and McNeal and they are buying in, playing hard and playing well. Sometimes you need to listen to a different voice.' That comment was telling. Buzz was earning respect and a top coach thought Buzz was getting more out of his talent than Crean did.
In yr. 2, C Chris Otule [broken foot], SF Joe Fulce [knee] and PG Junior Cadougan [Achilles] were out…and with the players and recruits that left when Crean took the Indiana job, MU was down to 3 on 3 in practices and that included the walk-ons. Getting that team, the smallest in D-1..with a 5-7 PG Maurice Acker, 6-0 2G David Cubillan, 6-2 SF Darius Johnson- Odom, SF 6-5 Jimmy Butler and C 6-4 Lazar Hayward to the NCAA Tournament, in the Old Big East, was the best coaching job I have ever seen at Marquette.
Buzz, thanks for your hard work. Sorry to see you go. Some great memories…a Sweet 16, Sweet 16 and an Elite 8. All we have to do is find someone better and we should be all right.
[In Maui Dec 2012, Butler head coach Brad Stevens mentions to Buzz Williams that it is hard to stay at one school.]