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March 24, 2011

Jimmy Butler

Joseph Fulce

Darius Johnson-Odom

Buzz Williams


THE MODERATOR: Joining us here right now is Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams. He will begin with an opening statement.
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: What did you say? I was joining you on what?
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: How do you spell it?
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: We're excited to be here. Thankful to be here. It's been a long journey to get here. I think our guys over the last five games have earned the right to play another game. Sometimes against unbelievable odds, but just like our last game against Syracuse, and even the game against Xavier, immense respect for Coach Williams. One of the very few coaches that have ever continued to coach after being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. I think that to have three or four long-tenured NBA players on their team. They are as fast as anybody in the country in the first 10 seconds of a possession. That will cause great problems for us, as it has every other opponent that they have played this year.
I think maybe one thing not mentioned enough about what they do, is that they are really good on the glass. They are 25-2 when they outrebounded their opponent. Part of that is because they are so far ahead of their opponent, if they miss a shot they can put it back in. But they put extra pressure on you, not only offensively but defensively. So we will have our hands full from the start, but we are thankful to be here.

Q. Roy Williams marveled about your ability to find his book in Puerto Rico. How were you able to do that? What did you get out of reading that?
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: It was the only book written in English that I could find. (Laughter) I spent nine times the amount on the cab that I did on the book. It got so bad that I just implored the cabdriver to stay until I could find it. So I go in a book store, ask for it; they wouldn't have it. Go to another one, go to another one.
I study a different person once a month and Coach Williams was the person that I studied that month. The reason that started was because I was fortunate enough that my wife and I were invited on that trip by Nike. I am sure Coach Williams has been multiple times. It was my first. And so he was very kind to me and I had a long trip back from Puerto Rico. And so I went to go find his book. And literally, there was one in Puerto Rico and I found it and read it. And wrote him a note after I read it and that's kind of how it all started.

Q. Coach, can you talk about the mental toughness of Junior Cadougan, coming back from the Achilles injuries he suffered about a year and a half ago, and if that translates on the court as well.
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: Never said it until after our last regular-season game, and really haven't said it a lot since then, but we were the second youngest team in our league and I never believed that you should use age as justification for failure or success as a coach or as a player. And so I never said it publicly. But really if you rewind in Junior's career, he is really a freshman. He played a season high of six consecutive minutes at St. John's last year. That was his minute high after the Achilles tear. I don't know that I ever met a player this young in his tenure that is as tough mentally as junior. I've been extremely hard on him on purpose. I think it's a hard position to play for us. But I think junior could end up being one of the best that has ever played that.
And by classification, he's a sophomore, but relative to playing time he's still a freshman. I am really excited about his future. The reason I think he will be successful is because of what you ask, because I think he is as tough as you can find.

Q. Coach, you were talking about UNC's NBA potential and speed and length. What do you see as your advantages in this game?
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: I have been thinking about it since Sunday night and I'm still not sure. If you have an email, I will email you in the morning.
I don't know. A couple of things. I think our offense has to help our defense, similar to how we had to play against Syracuse. 20% of North Carolina's points are in transition off one pass or less. That's an extremely high number. 35% of their points are shots at the rim. So shots within three feet of the rim is what I deem a shot at the rim. That's as high number as there is in the country. And so live-ball turnovers end up being dunks. Quick, long shots end up being dunks. And so it's similar to playing a football game relative to time of possession. Nobody ever looks at you, but they only average two possessions more per game than we do. And we average more points per possession than they do. That doesn't necessarily mean anything if we offensively don't help ensure that our offense helps our defense. So I think it's time of possession. We need to score early or we need to score late. And we need to make sure that what we do offensively prevents them from scoring as quick as they typically like to.

Q. Buzz, can you talk about your last trip to this building, and what was your message to the players when they were kind of barricaded in the locker room for 45 minutes after that loss?
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: Somebody said that somebody got mad. I don't read anything that you guys write, but the guy that I upset is he here?

Q. I don't think he is.
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: Do you know him? Tell him I am really not a bad guy and I apologize. And I mean it sincerely.

Q. He's a Marquette guy.
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: That is a loyal alum. I am sure he donated a lot of money to our program.
I really didn't say anything, to be honest with you, that I wouldn't have said if our team was here in front of you. It was not a kumbaya meeting, not a prayer meeting, just a truthful meeting. We were 9-7. We had won three games in a row. We won at UConn. All of those things. And then we go home, we got two games to play. We play Cincinnati at home and wasn't good enough to beat them. And you can argue maybe we had to do more, but I think the premise behind the last week of the season, if we won one, we were probably in the Tournament. We were playing Seton Hall after the best game, in my opinion, at that moment in time, of Coach Willard's tenure at Seton Hall. Playing unbelievable against St. John's here. And the same thing happened to us in the first half. They just absolutely blitzed us. And I just told our guys what I believe to be true, nothing that was earth shattering, nothing that they were stunned by, nothing that was out of the ordinary and nothing that I meant to perturb anybody from the media. I think I have been as transparent and as accessible in the last 1,080 days as any coach in any sport.
What I said was, was that a week ago today we only had to win one to get in the Tournament. And as of today, I don't think that's the -- I don't think that's the case anymore. So we're going to get on the plane to New York not knowing what we have to do in order to continue to play in the NCAA Tournament. And the longer we stay in New York, the better odds we have of getting in the Tournament. We were able to play three games and that was probably just good enough to get in the Tournament. So I didn't say anything that, like I said, I didn't say anything that I wouldn't have said to you. When we play here, I am going to invite that guy in the locker room. Tell him he can come back there.

Q. You obviously had a lot of stops along the way to get to Marquette. The youngest coach in this group, but you had a ton of stops. And I am wondering if you can go back to Navarro when you were pushing the broom around for Coach Orr and connect the dots on what you got out of that fairly ground-floor beginning that has sort of led to your approach or philosophy that's helped your team get to this point.
COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS: Vince Gill says in the "Secret to Life" song, "It don't mean nothing if you don't stay the same." And so my title has changed, where I live has changed, but who I am has not changed. And I don't mean any of that in an arrogant way whatsoever. I don't want what this stage allows to change me. And I believe that whatever you compromise to keep, you will eventually lose. And the thing I want to make sure that I never compromise is what I believe to be right. And I feel incredibly blessed to be the coach at Marquette. I feel incredibly blessed the to have an opportunity to be in the Sweet 16.
I do have an edge about me because of my roots. I recruit that way. I talk that way. I coach that way. I live that way. I am a parent in that same manner. That is not to say that that's the right way. It's not to say that it is the wrong way. It's to say that that's the way that I am convicted by to live. And I think that's the test that I get every day, is can you stay the same? Can you remove your ego from this and no matter what the media says, and no matter what the money is or no matter what the title is, can you do right?
It's easy to do right when you're a manager at Navarro College because nobody knows who you are. It is easy to do right, I was 21 years old as a full-time assistant in Division I. Nobody ever rights that because nobody knows, because nobody cares. Nobody even knows what Conference UTA is in but I do and that is important to me. And I think that, for me, the message has to be deeper than winning and losing. And whatever glory or acclaim you garner or we garner from winning cannot change the message. Nor can losing and what the media would say and what the fans would say or those that cover it. The message can't change.
And, of course, it is a feel-good story while you started at a place that I am really not sure how to pronounce, and really you are not supposed to be in the NCAA Tournament and here you are. There are only 16 teams left. It sounds great. There is a great thesis to how to write a 1,200-word article in the paper. But the real story is how hard it is to live trying to do right. And not shifting, not trying to become a politician, not using this platform to be something or be somebody that I am not. I just want to be who I am. And I don't want to compromise what I believe to be right. And I understand that by God's grace all of this has worked out the way that it has. I understand that I've worked, I understand that I haven't taken no for an answer. I understand all of those things, but I think about Navarro every day and that's why I hired Coach Orr. And Coach Orr has been with me every day that I am here, and he will be with me every day that I am here. I hired every coach that I ever worked for, and nobody ever says that either. And that's because I remember where I'm from. And the stage and the jersey and the conference and one media or 22,000 media are not going to change what I believe to be right. And that's not to say that it's right, it's just what I believe to be right.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen that has to be the final question for Coach Williams up here on the dais.
Joining us right now are Marquette student-athletes Darius Johnson-Odom, Jimmy Butler, Joseph Fulce and Dwight Buycks. We'll take questions for Darius, Jimmy, Joseph and Dwight.

Q. For Jimmy, Joe and D.J. I think all of you guys qualified out of high school as freshman but went junior college, if I am not mistaken. Can you talk a little bit about the path that took you to junior college and then Marquette and how the junior college experience helped you.
THE MODERATOR: Jimmy first.
JIMMY BUTLER: My experience in JUCO was big for me. I had the grades coming out of high school but not the exposure. A lot of people believed I could play major Division I basketball but never got the chance. And it really exposed me to big-time college basketball going up against different kinds of competition rather than high school. And the jump to Marquette and Buzz was just phenomenal for me and put me in the greatest possession to be successful.
JOSEPH FULCE: Out of high school I ended up I didn't have all my credits and everything. I ended up going to Massanutten Military Academy and stayed there for a year to get my grades up and everything. And then ended up at Tyler Junior College. So I could figure out, you know, where I wanted to end up going. There it was a great experience playing with Jimmy and the teammates I had there. And just going head to head with some of the best players in the conference. And real successful, and I feel that, you know, coming up here to Marquette playing in the Big East was a great choice.
DARIUS JONSON-ODOM: My process was a little different than these two guys. I had to go to prep school and junior college before I got cleared. So it took two years for the clearinghouse to clear me for to play Division basketball. And no other school knew about me my freshman year, so the only school looking at me was Marquette. And I knew their style of play prior to Coach Buzz being there and I knew I wanted to be a Golden Eagle. I took my talent up there. And my first year, you know, I got to play with Lazar, Jimmy, Mo (Acker), Cubey (Cubillan) and my second year, this year, I think we did a great job of sticking together and being a team.

Q. You guys, it took you awhile to find a school to play at. Carolina players don't seem to have any trouble getting noticed in high school. How do you feel about this match-up as far as where you guys have been compared to where their guys have been? Do you feel you are an underdog at all in this case?
DARIUS JONSON-ODOM: I don't think, you know, we are playing to our high school talents. We're not thinking about that, you know. We are both in the Sweet 16 and we're both really good teams. And we're thinking about the game tomorrow. We can't think about what we have been through and what they have been through as players. All we are focused on is the game tomorrow against North Carolina.

Q. Guys, the fact that you have five junior college guys and Buzz is obviously somebody who understands the long road to the top, is that something that unites you guys into something that you talk about and really gives you a different perspective on how far you have come and something you appreciate more so?
JIMMY BUTLER: I think all of us being from JUCO it makes us work harder. It was a notch in our belt going to JUCO, a bump in the road but it got us to the place where we want to be. And I think it runs us all together more. I think that is what's big on this Marquette team. We all have different stories. And all of those stories is something in there that is alike, that's why we are so close and that's why, you know, we all want the same goal and all want to reach the same dreams. And I just think that us being from JUCO, we can talk about those JUCO days and how hard it was and we didn't have anything like we have now. Marquette is a real nice program. It has really nice facilities and in junior college it was nothing like that. So that's, you know, just being from JUCO you have those type of stories to share with each other.

Q. Darius, I am wondering how many people from home are coming up here to watch this game today. And how many Tar Heels fans back home have you turned into Marquette fans this week?
DARIUS JONSON-ODOM: I think have about 20 people from Raleigh, North Carolina coming. I don't know how many people from North Carolina are coming that I know that are Tar Heel fans. But I do have quite a few friends that do attend North Carolina and they have been giving me, you know, all types of jokes and things prior to the game. And just telling me, you know, that they are going to support me, but they are going to support their Tar Heels at the same time.

Q. You guys appear to be real loose and confident going into this game. What keeps you guys so focused on the task at hand? And are you approaching this as just another game? Or is this one of the biggest games of your college career?
JOSEPH FULCE: I feel like every game is big for us. I mean we go out in our practices and everything, we prepare our practices, we work hard. Talk to one another, you know, and we just compete. And when we come out when they say we have North Carolina, it is just like okay then, you know, we will treat it just like any other game we had this season. It is not going to change anything we do and how we play.

Q. Jimmy, if you end you on Harrison Barnes tomorrow night, would you talk about your impressions of him? He has been on a hot streak lately.
JIMMY BUTLER: He is a really good player. He can do it all. He is athletic, he can score and dribble, he rebounds. But you just have to make him uncomfortable, just like anybody else. You have to pick up his space and make him feel like he has to work for every dribble and every move that he makes. And I think I am going to end up guarding him, but it is not going to be just me. It will be the our four guys on the floor. But it is real big that I can't force help. I have to be able to guard him on my own along with my teammates and their guys. So I think if we don't force rotation and we guard the ball, then everything will work out in the manner that we want it to.

Q. Dwight, the last time you were in this building, Seton Hall kind of blew you guys out. Was that a wake-up call for your team?
DWIGHT BUYCKS: I don't think it was a wake-up call but we didn't get the win. We couldn't lean our heads on that. We had to get prepared for the Big East Tournament. We didn't overlook that game, but we have to prepare for the next game and not lean our heads on that and just keep preparing and moving on.

Q. Darius, there has been a lot of buzz this week for obvious reasons. Jae Crowder has referred to your head coach as a little Bob Knight. Why have you guys embrace your head coach so much this season?
DARIUS JONSON-ODOM: Because of his toughness. And I think that is a character of our team. We follow Coach Buzz and he does a great job of making sure that we are doing the right things. He motivates us on the court and off the court. He is just a great person all around. And when you have a coach that is in your face all the time, making sure you are doing the right things, then you are going to make sure your other teammates do the right things. And I think we embrace him so much because he is just a well-spoken guy. He makes sure our head is level. We don't never want to talk about us being a great Marquette team or being a team that can do this or that, because we know we have been through a lot of things this past season. So we start a new season, we tune into the Tournament and that's all we know right now.

Q. Darius, the last time you were in the building, I mean I think you had an hour-long meeting after the game. What was said?
DARIUS JONSON-ODOM: Just, you know, that we have to play harder. When we lose games like that, we just have to play harder. There is nothing around it. Seton Hall was tremendous that night, knocking down threes in the first half. And you know, they just did a great job of staying in front of us and making us shoot tough shots. And you are going to have games like that, but you have to find ways around it.

Q. Darius, Jimmy, you guys have been in a lot of close games down the stretch this season. What's the difference between a team that can pull those games out and a team that can't?
DARIUS JONSON-ODOM: I think you have to be poised as a team. You have to make quick and good decisions and every possession has to be a good possession on both ends of the court. And I think we have been doing a great job of that in the last two games. Getting stops when we need them is very important. And for us, it is definitely getting on the glass and rebounding. And, you know, guys like Jay and Chris, Joe, their minutes are very important to us because they get rebounds and they make sure that they get a body on somebody, and we need that. And those guys are definitely good to our team.
JIMMY BUTLER: I think the biggest thing in that situation is just being tough when things aren't going your way. You can't take it for granted and let up. When things aren't going your way, you can't say the game is over with, let's shut it down. You have to keep playing, if you are up or you are down, no matter what happens. And I think we do that every day in practice, and I think it's just going to have to carry on into the game. And I think tomorrow is definitely going to be a close game down to the wire, one or two possessions. And like I said, the toughest team is going to win.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you very much, fellas.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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