Buzz Williams: Coach of The Year

Tim SeemanAnalyst IFebruary 4, 2009

Is there any doubt?  Who else could be national coach of the year in men's college basketball if it's not Buzz Williams of Marquette?

Let's outline what led to Williams being named Marquette's head basketball coach.

Tom Crean leads the Warriors to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing in overtime to Stanford and the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin. The following week, Crean leaves for an Indiana program that had been decimated by former coach Kelvin Sampson.

There was no indication from Crean that he might be leaving.  No farewell press conference.  It was very much like the Baltimore Colts sneaking out to Indianapolis in the middle of the night. No wonder he gets booed when they show his image during pregame at the Bradley Center.

That left Marquette hanging and a fan base wondering what was going to happen next. Would Crean's recruits, including Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal jump ship and declare for the NBA Draft? What about the younger guys?  What would they do?

The prospects were grim at the outset for the Warriors, and I can't say the outlook got better after the university announced Williams as the man for the job. He had been an assistant for one season in Milwaukee.  One.  His career head coaching record was under .500 in one season at the University of New Orleans.  

After the announcement, many thought the athletic department was desperate for a guy who might influence the players to stay at Marquette.  There was definite uncertainty about how the team would perform under this untested head coach. Many preseason predictions had Marquette finishing sixth or seventh in the Big East, predicting that the coaching woes would carry out onto the court and hurt team performance.

Fast forward to today.

Marquette's alone in first place in the Big East.  Ahead of Louisville, a preseason top-five team.  Ahead of Pittsburgh and Connecticut, two teams that have been (or are) ranked No. 1 this season.

Buzz's strength lies in motivation.  He doesn't let his players pat themselves on the back and demands the best from them every single day.  One of the toughest thing for any basketball coach to get a team to do is play tough defense every time they take the floor.  Williams has the respect from his players, and this makes them willing to lock down opponents the way they do.

Winning is the biggest thing that coaches can do to earn coach of the year honors, but the ability to motivate veteran players as a rookie coach (far all intents and purposes) is what really sets Buzz apart from any other coach in the running for coach of the year.