March Madness in Phoenix, Marquette's unconventional coach

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by Tyler Baldwin

azfamily.com

Posted on March 21, 2012 at 7:00 PM

PHOENIX -- Buzz Williams tossed up a half court shot and drained it. Then, celebrated by laying down on the court and pretending to swim on the hardwood.

For the Marquette fans that gathered in US Airways Center in Phoenix to watch the pre-Sweet16 practice, this is a view of their coach that they are used to.

When you watch him playing with his kids on the court during practice, you realize this is a unique coach. He stands out in a different way when you compare his resume to the other coaches in town for the NCAA Tournament:

A National Championship winner in 1996 with Kentucky, Louisville's Rick Pitino is the only coach in NCAA history to take three different schools to a Final Four.

Michigan State's Tom Izzo has been to the Final Four 6 times. He won it all in 2000.

Billy Donovan won back to back National Championships with the Gators.

Asked to compare himself to the other coaches, Williams responded, “Relative to Buzz, Donovan, Izzo and Pitino... which one doesn’t belong? That’s the easiest question to answer.

Williams adds, "I wish that was a question on the SAT. I wouldn't have had to go to junior college. The word association on the SAT, I would have got that right.”

Williams says they are all coaches he looks up to, “All of them have won National Championships. All of them have coached in the league (NBA) or decided that they didn’t want to coach in the league. And, the league I should be in is the Lone Star Conference.”

Although his resume isn’t as long as the three other coaches in town, it sure packs a punch. Since taking over at Marquette he has had 4 straight tournament invites and back to back Sweet16 appearances.

His coaching competition this week, Florida's Billy Donovan is impressed by Buzz Williams early accomplishments, “You know I had to start somewhere. Coach Pitino had to start somewhere. So did Tom. And, Buzz is starting at a high, major program at Marquette in the Big East and he has done a phenomenal job. I think that Buzz will continue to grow that program just because of his energy and his passion.”

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