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March 18, 2011
Marquette Â– 66
Xavier - 55
THE MODERATOR: We want to welcome our Marquette student-athletes and Coach Williams. We'll take questions for Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH WILLIAMS: My voice is kind of gone. I'll do the best I can. I think Xavier's a really good team. Obviously when you look at what they had done prior to playing this game, I have great respect for their team, for their personnel, for Coach Mack and his staff.
I thought in the first half we were really good. We gave them zero points in transition. I thought we guarded their ball screens extremely well, collectively, and I thought in the second half they scored eight points in transition, but four of those were right there at the end. But I thought by and large we did a good job on their ball screens.
Then when they went on the run, it was just good players making good plays. But I thought our guys responded. And I thought collectively we played really well. I thought that we executed the scouting report, and I thought we responded when they began a run. I thought these two guys, particularly, really responded on both ends of the floor.
So we're thankful to still be playing, and I guess that's it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Jimmy, you started off that first trip right in Holloway's grill when they were bringing it up, and he couldn't even get it to bring it up. Was that your focus the whole time, was just for him to touch the ball as little as possible for as long as you were in the matchup?
JIMMY BUTLER: Definitely. I think he's the key to their team. Really great player, like I said. And if we can take him out of the game, we take a lot of their players out of the game because he's a great rebounder. He distributes the ball well.
So when he's far away from the basket and he can't enter offense like he would like to, I think it changes the whole pace of the whole game.
Q. Both of you, when you play against a player the caliber of Tu, does that raise your level of game? Does it give you a little extra motivation?
JIMMY BUTLER: I think it does. With a player like that, the key to their team, you have to stop him. You have to want to take that challenge and take him out of his game, make it hard for him, make it uncomfortable.
And I think it definitely not only raises my standards, but my teammates' also, because they know that I can't do it by myself. And tonight that really helped me, if he beat me, which he did a few times, they were right there.
So it definitely wasn't just me guarding him, it was the whole team.
DARIUS JOHNSON-ODOM: I think when you play against a player like him, you have to be locked in. He's a great player off ball screens. He creates for others. And he put his team on the back. And we know if we take him out, it's going to be hard for their team to do what they do best.
I think everybody was locked in. We got great minutes from DantÃ©, and Joe took a huge charge and Jae was outstanding today. We have to give it up for our teammates.
Q. Guys, looking at your scores down the stretch, your last 20 games, you were a 500 team, 10 and 10. But it was mostly in the Big East. So how much does playing in that conference, even though you may be 500 for that, prepare you for games like this, and how much of a factor was that tonight?
DARIUS JOHNSON-ODOM: I think it's a major factor. You know, we play in a tough conference. You can't take a day off. You can play tough teams from top to bottom.
And I think it has prepared us for games like this, but in the back of our minds, we know we're starting off 0-0, and we have to come out and play with poise and understand that this is a new season for us.
JIMMY BUTLER: I think night in, night out, in the Big East conference, you're playing great teams, great players of all different calibers and positions. So when you have a guard like Tu on an opposing team, you kind of focus in like he's Kemba Walker, because he's the key to their team; he can do everything. You've got to be able to take him out of his game.
But I think the Big East conference gets us ready because it's a dogfight every night in the Big East. That's what we live off. The toughest team is always going to win. So we go into every game with that mentality.
Q. It seemed like every time they would cut it to seven, eight, nine, you guys came right back with another basket to stretch it back out. Could you sense that was kind of breaking them every time you guys did that?
JIMMY BUTLER: I think we realized that it was the same way for us, too, when they would score, it kind of got us like, come on, we don't want this to happen again, this happened last year, things like that. That came back into a lot of guys' heads. We were talking about it on the floor, actually.
But it comes down to getting stops. And when we got a stop and we got down there and we got a basket, it seemed to continue to lead to another stop or cause another turnover. And I think that is what led to us stretching back out our lead.
DARIUS JOHNSON-ODOM: For us, I think when you play a team like Xavier, you know they're going to make runs. The game isn't over at all. So for us, how are we going to contain that run, how are we going to stop that run, we have to be poised enough to understand that they're going to make a run and we have to fight back with our run. So with a team like that, you just gotta find ways to better yourself as a teammate and as a team, find good shots, get good stops and it's going to help us to a win.
Q. Darius, was there a time when you could sense a real frustration on their part in terms of how well you guys were defending them? I was thinking in particular when Frease had the ball on the right wing and Holloway tried to back-cut it and he bounced the pass and it went over the in line. I wonder if you could see a frustration from them at that point.
DARIUS JOHNSON-ODOM: I wouldn't call it frustration; I would call it we were just doing our job.
We were tremendous on the defensive end. We tried to make it as tough as possible for them. And I think we did a good job. Jimmy, he did a great job. And everybody who came in and played did a great job on the defensive end.
Q. Guys, don't want to look too far ahead, but assuming Syracuse wins the game here, can you talk a little bit about what you guys are expecting in a rematch? You won the game late January. What do you think will come about in the second game?
DARIUS JOHNSON-ODOM: It's tough to say. You just can't say they're going to win the game. But if they do, we expect them to come out and try to hit us in the mouth as hard as possible.
A lot of people would say it was a fluke. We're not supposed to win that game. But Syracuse is a great team. They have great guards. Great bigs, and they find ways to win.
And when you play a team like that you have to come out and be ready. We know it's another Big East matchup and it's cutthroat for us, and we have to be poised enough to understand that we're playing another good team and we gotta find ways to win it.
JIMMY BUTLER: I think that they're definitely going to be ready. Another chance to get a win against us because we did beat them early on in the season. I think it's going to be a dogfight. It's like another Big East matchup.
They know us, we know them, so it just goes back to who is going to get stops. We gotta penetrate the zone that they run, do what we do to get plenty of touches, everything we say every day, and I think we can repeat what happened in January.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Buzz, this question is asked seriously and not in an offensive way at all, but has your defense been better than that?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't think that relative to how they play that we've been better. When you have to guard -- when I started studying them, I watched their last 14 games. And, you know, like I went in reverse order, and so I began to get a pace and a pulse for how they play.
By the time I got to game four, I just started making a slash mark how many ball screens they set per game. And then it became how many ball screens are they setting per possession.
You know, Kansas runs a lot of that ball screen motion stuff. I'm amazed at the effectiveness. Their team scores 44 percent of their points off the two people involved in the ball screen. That's an incredible number. They score 25 percent of their points off the free-throw line as a team. That's 69 percent of their points.
And so the number to look at, in my opinion, relative to what we did in executing the scouting report, they had 11 free-throw makes. That means that we were playing the ball screen right.
So I would say relative to how they play, it was probably our best execution of playing to the scouting report.
Q. As your two players were answering questions, you were sitting there nodding almost in agreement with a lot of what they were saying. How does that make you feel that it sounds like whatever you're preaching to them they're getting, they're executing, and they're sharing it with us afterwards?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, I don't mean this in an arrogant way, and I don't mean this in a condescending way: I think the meaning has to be deeper than winning and losing. And I know we're all here because it's the greatest tournament in the world. But I have to be accountable that the daily message of our team is deeper than winning and losing. And nobody knew those two kids when they arrived at Marquette.
And so for them to be on this stage, not because of how they played -- I knew they could play -- but because of how they're able to handle themselves off the floor makes their parents proud and it makes me proud.
So I was telling them good job. Yes, I agree with what they say. You know, but if you rewind to September, literally every Friday we have a vocabulary word test like you did when you were in second grade. And it's the words we use.
And we go in the film room. All right, guys, these are the words we used. And they just used about 25 of them. We go, Okay, this word right here, here's a picture of what it looks like. And we do that every Friday.
And so to be where we are now, and then to be able to see those guys be able to explain it and to be effective in their explanation and to be able to carry themselves humbly, to be able to carry themselves using the appropriate words, the words we use, that's what I'm proud of.
Yeah, I'm proud that they're good players. Every coach is. But I just believe as a human being that my message to those guys has to be deeper than winning and losing.
And so for us to be on this stage, I'm not -- I am happy we won -- but I'm just as happy for their growth as humans. Because someday they're going to be your age and what are they going to be doing? So I hope that what I'm doing on a daily basis in our culture is helping prepare them for when they're your age or my age.
Q. What was today's word, then?
COACH WILLIAMS: We used a lot of words. There's nine things that we chart on a daily basis. And some of them are in the stat sheet that you see. Half of them are, half of them aren't. And so we monitor that per ATOs. We monitor that in halftime before the game. We monitor it through Big East competition, so we had 21 Big East competitions.
And when we were in New York, you know, we changed locker rooms. I think we were in like however many different locker rooms, and you've been there. The locker room is the width, not the length, of this table. So we didn't have room for our typical board. So I went back to that tonight before when they were warming up.
And we went through all of that stuff that we go through and what we had averaged entering tonight's game, et cetera, et cetera, and they're excited to play like every other kid in the tournament, and I said, Guys, why did I go back to this? And those two guys right there said, Because that's us. And I said, That's what got us here, and that's what will keep us here.
Just gotta keep throwing good pitches. It's not -- this is not a trick. We've got to continue to do what it is that has gotten us to this point. And I thought we were able to do that.
Q. How much confidence does it give you as a coach going into a game and having Jimmy Butler as the linchpin of your defense knowing that he's got the ability to take away the best offensive player on the opposing team?
COACH WILLIAMS: He's the smartest player I've ever coached. Our video coordinator, as of today, was the smartest player I'd ever coached up until Jimmy. Jimmy has really blossomed and he's evolved during the time that he's been here.
I thought he was the swing vote on our team our first year. I thought he became really important to our team the second year. But this year he's just really, really difficult to take off the floor because of his switchability, offensively and defensively. When you're 6'7 1/2" like him and you're guarding -- nothing against Tu, he's probably going to test measure at 5'11," as fast as he is, you really have to be smart to understand angles, to understand space, to understand that you're about to get blitzed by 6'10", 230 Kenny Frease every possession.
What you said is exactly what he is. And as a coach it gives me the ultimate confidence I've ever had in a single player defensively.
I will say this, and it kind of goes back to Mike's question earlier: Jimmy is deserving of the notoriety. D.J. is deserving of the notoriety when he was guarding 52.
But you can't guard their ball screens with just those two guys. You have to defend those ball screens with all five guys. And as the ball moves, we've got to be like magnets to the ball. And I thought we didn't give up anything on the back side.
So, yes, they're deserving, but I think collectively that was one thing we preached over and over this week is you have to defend the ball with all five guys on the floor.
Q. I saw after -- you did the television interview afterwards and everything, you kind of stood in front of the band and just kind of looked up in the stands. Was that you kind of just taking this in a little bit, speaking a lot about this is more than a game, or was that just you soaking it in a little bit?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think that Marquette as an institution is about much more than just academics. And I think that -- I'm not a Jesuit, but I do have similar values, very similar values.
And I didn't know that when I moved to Milwaukee that God could allow the snow to go above the windows in your car. I didn't know that was possible.
And 1,074 days later it is about our kids and who they become as players. And it is about the students and the former students at Marquette and their earning a degree.
But the institution of Marquette and what I hope that our program represents as well is that it's got to be bigger than that. It's gotta be deeper than that. And, again, I try to temper what I say and that stuff, because it kind of comes across, if you don't know me, as holier than thou or we're doing some stuff that nobody else does.
It's not that. It's not that. It's not that at all. Chris Mack is an unbelievable coach. He's a better coach than me, because if you look at his record he's had more success.
I just want to be accountable for who we are as people. And, yes, to answer your question, it was a deep, relaxing exhale to be able to go, Thanks for coming; I'm glad we get to stay another couple of nights. Because I know that those people that got here, however they got here, they didn't just come because we were 20 and 14 entering tonight's game; they came because of what Marquette means to them.
And it's the totality of that experience. It's not that we're better. It's not that we're worse. I'm not trying to be the best coach. I just want to be accountable for who our guys become, and I would say that if you asked Father Wild, he would say the exact same thing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports