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March 17, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Marquette University student-athletes Joseph Fulce, Jimmy Butler, Dwight Buycks, and Robert Frozena. Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Jimmy, I wanted to ask you what your impressions were of Tu Holloway and does he remind you of anyone you played this year?
JIMMY BUTLER: He's a very great player. He can shoot it. He can drive it, rebound it, distribute the ball as a guard. He is a scorer like Kemba, like Marshon Brooks. He's very aggressive off ball screens and he gets to the paint as a 5'11", however tall he might be, guard.
And I think we've got to keep him off the paint and we've got to stay in front of him and contain him.
Q. Jimmy, you might have just answered this. Is there a preferred way or a style of guarding a guy who is 6', 6'1", who can put up 20?
JIMMY BUTLER: I'm not real sure. I think our objective is to contest every shot that he puts up. Keep him out of the paint. Trim. When he does get in the paint, don't leave your feet because he's very good at drawing contact and finishing with contact at that.
He's an extremely great free-throw shooter. He gets to the line a lot and he knocks them down. So we definitely can't let him get easy buckets from the free-throw line. So we just have to contain him, play help defense and try our best to keep him off the paint.
Q. As you guys embark on this tournament, what are the keys? What have the coaches been preaching to you guys as the keys throughout this tournament?
JOSEPH FULCE: Coach just wants us to play our game. We've had a real roller coaster up and down season. When we get away from what we do, you know, we have to suffer the consequences. And when we do us and we play hard, you know, we see it and I feel like we can play with anybody in the country. But it's just up to us and how we're going to play.
JIMMY BUTLER: I think the biggest focus for us for Xavier would be the ball screen. Focus a lot on that because every possession they're going to set two to three ball screens and try to get into the paint and distribute off of a ball screen, that being a side or flat ball screen, or to the baseline or things like that. So we've got to be ready for many types of ball screens they'll throw at us.
DWIGHT BUYCKS: I think the main focus is just the players, a lot of ball screens, like Jimmy said, and we have to guard up before the ball screens even come so that they can't really get a good angle to set ball screens, stop the ball screen. Same with the possession, and just -- and just play like we play us. If we play us, we can play anybody in the country.
ROBERT FROZENA: I think one of the big things is we have to finish every possession with a rebound. A lot of people talk about how we're undersized, but we do a great job of taking up space, and I think that's important no matter who you play, and then just piggyback off of Joe and Dwight's -- we've got to play how we play. There's been times this year where we could beat anybody in the country, and there's also times when anyone in the country could beat us. So we've just got to play us.
Q. Jimmy, how much did playing in the Big East conference help you prepare for this tournament?
JIMMY BUTLER: Tons. You know, me as a player and my teammates, we guard a lot of the great players in the country. And so night in and night out you're getting lots of different competition. If it's from a point guard to a small forward, to a center, to a post, you know, you're always looking at a different type of matchup and a bigger matchup for each team.
And so when we look at Xavier, they have a really great guard, they have shooters, and they have solid bigs. So I think now we're going to have to take all of that, what we learned in the Big East, to guard a big, to guard a guard and shooters. We gotta combine all that in for this one game against Xavier.
Q. You guys have been here since Tuesday now. You were the first team to arrive. Any benefits you feel you have being here 72-plus hours now?
JIMMY BUTLER: I think we get to see the city a bit. But more than anything we get to study our opponents, we get to catch up on what they get to do a lot more and we just get to relax. We get to look at what they do and then go back to the rooms and think about it and just be around as a team in Cleveland instead of back in Wisconsin.
Q. Jimmy, could you compare and contrast Tu Holloway's style with that of Kemba Walker?
JIMMY BUTLER: Kemba from what I can tell is a little faster, but they both have their scoring mentality. They both can shoot it. They both get to the line extremely well, and they both run their team extremely well.
I think they both look to attack off the ball screen, get into the paint. If not, shoot a jumper, draw contact, if not draw contact, look for the open guy.
And I think that if we want to win this game we have to contain them and keep them out of that paint. We have to have not just one player guarding them but all five players from Marquette guarding him.
Q. Following on that, I know when you played Connecticut at your place you were pretty effective against Walker. Are you reviewing that much as far as how to game plan against Holloway?
JIMMY BUTLER: I think we looked back on quite a few games to prepare for this game. Not only our on-the-ball defense but also our off-the-ball defense, because we have to be in what we call a gap. If he does get by somebody, there has to be another body there.
So that's the way we played Marshon Brooks from Providence. And we just have to be really aggressive on the ball, which is how we played Kemba from UConn. And I think all of that molding together is just the way that we play, trying to out-tough the other team.
Q. You guys got here Tuesday. Have you done any non-basketball-related activities in the city?
JIMMY BUTLER: We actually got to go to the mall yesterday and look around. And I think today we might go watch a movie as a team.
Q. Jimmy, I think you had signed just not long after Buzz took over, like a week after he took over. So what was it that gave you -- I don't know, that gave you a good feeling about jumping on board with him taking over at Marquette?
JIMMY BUTLER: It's a really long story. But he came to recruit Joseph, Joe, and we both played at Tyler Junior College together. And Buzz was like a really cool person, and he would always come and check up on Joe. But he never really talked about basketball. It was always how is school, how is life, how is your family, things like that. And that just rubbed off on me. And he kind of just talked to me the same way. Not that he was recruiting me, he was just talking to me as a person.
And so when I heard that he got the head coaching job, he said earlier in the year while we were playing, If I had a head coaching job that I'd love to take you because you're the type of player that you know I'd like to have. And he got the job, and he held his word, which was real big to me because he was actually telling me the truth when he said that.
And Buzz is real big on being honest and telling the truth. So I knew from that point that he was going to take care of me and my teammates no matter what. So that was an easy decision for me.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We're joined by Marquette coach Buzz Williams. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, thankful to be here. I think it's a great first-round game if you're a fan; it's a dangerous first-round game if you're a coach. When you look at the success that Coach Mack has had at Xavier, it's astonishing no matter your perspective. Lost 16 games in two years, only three games in league play. They've been absolutely dominant in a very good league. They post a lot of problems for us, score 25 percent of their points on free-throw makes, which is as good as any team in the country.
And Tu Holloway, if he played in a league with more exposure, I believe would be on the same level as Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette relative to his national notoriety.
We're excited to be here, but at the same time we have great respect for the staff and the team at Xavier.
Q. You brought your team here on Tuesday. Why did you decide to bring them in so early and what are some of the benefits of doing that?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't know if there's necessarily any benefit. The reason we were able to do it is because our guys are on spring break and the dorm they live in, there's 122 dorm rooms, and so for only six of them to be filled with our guys kind of gives you a haunted house type of feel. And I just wanted to be around them, and so we decided to spend an extra night in Cleveland. No strategy involved, just let's hurry up and get here.
Q. The conference you play in, how much do you think that will benefit you as a coach as well as the players night in and night out going up against that competition as you head into this tournament?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know that it necessarily trends towards winning or losing. I think that it does help prepare you relative to the different styles of play, the different personnel that you will play against.
Much is talked about our league and the depth of our league, which I tend to agree with. But it's also the depth of the talent on each of those teams. But any coach that would sit here would tell you that we play in the toughest league and we had the toughest schedule. That's all part of coach-speak.
But I do think that playing in our league against the coaches and the players that we compete against on the stage that we compete against definitely prepares you to play on the stage such as this in a tournament like this.
So I don't know that it trends towards winning or losing, but I think that it definitely trends towards having your team prepared.
Q. Coach, what concerns you/impresses you most about Tu Holloway? And can you talk about the one-two punch of him and Lyons?
COACH WILLIAMS: I'm very impressed, a few things. Their team scores 25 percent of their points from the free-throw line, which is a staggering number. But Tu Holloway in and of himself scores 25 percent of his points from the free-throw line. So he's Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, scores 25 percent of his points from the free-throw line, 63 percent of the points that he scores comes off of ball screen. Now, if you intertwine that relative to their team, so as a team they score eight percent on put-backs, a lot of that is No. 22. They score 11 percent in transition, that's all 52 and 10.
Those are solid numbers. 25 percent as a team from the free-throw line is outstanding, in the top 5 of the country. So you're at 44 percent. That constitutes 44 percent of their points.
The 42 percent as a team come from the ball screen from Xavier. Only the two guys involved in the ball screen, not somebody setting -- you set a ball screen for me, I use the ball screen and I pitch it to somebody else. Only the two guys involved in the ball screen constitute 42 percent of Xavier's points. Of that 42 percent of the time, Tu Holloway is involved in it 63 percent. It's really dangerous, because he does such an effective job of using the ball screen that he forces help.
And a lot of times when he forces help he gets fouled, but he puts your team in constant rotation because of the ball screen and the coverage of the ball screen. They set multiple ball screens per possession.
So Tu Holloway literally may in one possession get three ball screens by three different players. And I don't study any other teams other than the ones we play, but I would say that he probably gets more ball screens than any player in the country. And I'm not sure that he wouldn't be deemed the most effective from those ball screens.
And what happens is is so much attention is given to him, rightfully so, that 10 and 25, who are really good players as well, sometimes -- because of the help that 52 forces -- it puts them in better positions, and then 22 is as good an offensive rebounder as there is.
Q. Before you guys left, some of your guys like Butler and D.J. talked about their first experience in the tournament and the nerves they had and things like that, and your young guys like Vander and Jae, who might play major roles tomorrow, are you starting to notice which guys are handling it well, which guys are a little bit nervous and how even the Jimmys and D.J.s are less nervous or feel different from this year from what you can tell?
COACH WILLIAMS: I was nervous before I proposed to my wife. And I was nervous and I already knew the answer, you know what I mean? I was nervous when my first child was born, because I had never been through it.
So there is value in experience. But that experience does not necessarily mean that you win. And so whether you have the experience or don't have the experience, there has to be some sort of core foundational level of what it is that you know that you have to execute on both ends of the floor.
We're playing in Xavier's home state. They'll have more fans than we will. They're the higher seed. They've had a better year than we have. So all of those things are factors, but as I tell our guys, no matter who we play, inside the lines the game is pure.
The media can't talk to you during the game. The fans can't touch you during the game. Inside the lines, you have to do what it is that we work on every day. I think all of our guys are excited. I think to an extent, you know, our guys don't understand completely the new guys like Vander was saying, Coach, where are we going to play on Sunday if we win? Well, we're going to stay here, pal, you know what I mean? They don't know. Like this is a region and the First Four, they've already played. They don't understand.
Like anybody else in the world, they're somewhat caught up in their own little world. Sometimes that's good. Sometimes that's bad. But I've always said this, in preseason polls you should vote relative to the returning players. You're only as good as your returning players, and when you look at Xavier, they've been to the Sweet 16 the last three years, that says an incredible amount about their administration, their staff and their personnel, to be able to be in that position.
So we admire that. We want to get to that point. But once the ball's tipped, you gotta play. And you gotta have some sort of sense of purpose in order to have a chance to win.
Q. Do you take an individual approach, then, with certain guys when you can start to feel the vibe of how they're feeling? You said the group approach was between the lines pure. Do you then individually talk to guys that you can tell might need it a little bit more?
COACH WILLIAMS: I'm a great communicator, I think in some ways, and a very poor communicator and almost unapproachable in others. I tell the guys exactly what I think they need to know and always tell them the truth. So if they're scared, I tell them you're acting scared, and sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.
But they'll be fine. They'll be excited to play. Will some of those first-time guys have jitters? Maybe. But they won't last very long if they're not very good because they won't play.
Q. What do you have to do well to win this game? A lot of coaches focus so much we've got to stop this, we've got to stop that. From Marquette's standpoint, what do you guys have to do well?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think we're a pretty good team in transition. I think we do a pretty good job of forcing help. One way or another. It's not necessarily always off a ball screen like Xavier.
But what we do best is when we can get consecutive stops that allows us to play probably at the tempo or at the pace that we want to play. And our points per possession and some of the statistics that you would study, if you tried to deduct the best reason behind our success and/or our failure, would be our ability to get consecutive stops.
If we're taking the ball out of the net, we're not going to be near as effective. So we need to be able to get stops. We need to be able to play in transition. Not necessarily to take a quick shot, but to put pressure on their defense.
And then we need to ensure that we get a paint touch every possession. And we need to put pressure on them on the offensive glass like they're going to put pressure on us on the offensive glass.
Because they do a great job of when the ball is shot, it's almost the game within the game. And I tell our guys that all the time. The game really starts when the ball's shot, because if they're able to get multiple shots per possession, then we're going to be in a bind.
But we have the ability to do that, and when we're able to do that at times, I think that really changes the complexion of our team.
Q. You mentioned comparing Holloway to Kemba Walker and your players also brought up Marshon Brooks. How much have you studied those players with the team recently? I know you were pretty effective against Walker. And how much do you gain from that and how much does it translate?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think there's some translation, just because they understand how potent Holloway is. When you say Marshon Brooks, you know he's going to be drafted in the first round. When you say Kemba Walker, you know he's going to be drafted in the first round.
Our guys are obviously more familiar with those two players because we've competed against them. I think Tu Holloway is faster than Kemba Walker off the ball screen. I think Tu Holloway is more effective off the ball screen than Kemba Walker.
His game is different than Marshon Brooks. Marshon Brooks is 6'6 1/2", 6'7", he's long, and fast is not necessarily an adjective you would use to describe him, but Tu Holloway I think is an incredible competitor. I think he mirrors Kemba Walker relative to he wants the ball in his hands, he wants to make big shots, and he's proven over the course of his career that he can do that.
Q. You mentioned how Xavier scores 25 percent of their points on free throws and that they get a lot of contact off of ball screens. How do you go about -- you're a very good defensive team. How do you go about coaching your team to defend tightly and avoid at least some of that contact?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't know that it's more important than transition defense, but I think it's the second most important thing in the game tomorrow. Because they're going to set multiple ball screens. And we guard ball screens every day. Our ball screen coverage, partly because I'm simple-minded, is color-based.
So as you talk -- if you were at a coaching clinic, coaches would say on a ball screen, hey, we're going to hedge and over, we're going to press and under, we're going to switch, we're going to trap.
Instead of using those words, the words we use are colors. And so we do a color coverage every day in practice. This was prior to competing against Xavier. Because the game has evolved to the point that every team sets ball screens. Very few teams in the country, I think, set as many as Xavier. But relative to the angle of the screen, relative to who the screener is, relative to who the handler is should depend upon what color coverage you should be in.
Since Monday morning when we began to prepare for Xavier on the court, honestly that's all we've done. That's been 65 percent of our practice itinerary since Monday is ball screen coverage.
But what you said is exactly right. How you defend the ball screen and you can't be too far behind in the possession. You can't be too early because 52 and 10 specifically do an unbelievable job of exploiting bad ball screen coverage.
Q. Coach, going back to last year's team, going into the tournament, how did you feel about that team in comparison with this team going into tomorrow's game against Xavier?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think that's why I've aged and why I've gained a lot of weight since I've been the head coach at Marquette, because I've coached three different teams. I know you didn't ask about the first team, but in year number one there was 18 years of experience on the Marquette roster at Marquette. Year number two, last year, there were 12. And in year number three, there has been eight. We were the second youngest team in our league. I just never mentioned that publicly because I didn't want that to serve as justification for success or failure.
It's a different team. And how we got into the tournament, in my opinion this year, is different than how we got into the tournament last year. And even different than how we got into the tournament year number one. Year number one we started out league play and until Dominic James broke his foot probably had a chance arguably to compete for the championship.
Last year we started out 2 and 5 and lost those five by a total of eight points. And everybody thought that we would end up 12th where everybody picked us and we were able to win nine out of our 11. We went 6 and 1 in February and really got on a run.
This year it has been more volatile. Part of it is a multitude of reasons. But I think that we ended the season -- we were 6 and 7 when St. John's beat us at home, won three in a row with one of those being at UConn, so we're 9 and 7. You could say, if you were a bracketologist, that we probably only needed to win one more in the regular season, and we didn't.
So we finished 9 and 9. So we went to New York not knowing what tournament we were going to play in. And I think we played our way into the tournament. So I think that there's a little bit of momentum, even though last year we played three games in New York and made it to the semifinals, there's a little bit of a momentum just because we were able to probably go from a three-letter tournament to a four-letter tournament, and I think that that gives our guys confidence.
Does it ensure we have a chance to win tomorrow? I don't know. But I think that our mode is much better this week than it was two weeks ago.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports