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March 14, 2012

Jae Crowder

Darius Johnson-Odom

Buzz Williams


THE MODERATOR:¬† Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome the Marquette student‑athletes and just send out another reminder to turn off cell phones.
We've got Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson‑Odom from Marquette.¬† We'll begin with questions.

Q.¬† What did you guys think when you were watching the play‑in game last night?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† I thought it was at a high level.¬† Both teams played with a lot of intensity.¬† You're going to get everybody's best shot, especially in the NCAA Tournament.
I was kind of excited to just see teams getting after each other on both ends of the court, just trying to play to win.
JAE CROWDER:  I thought it was a great way to start the tournament.  Of course, it was a great win.  You saw both teams hit their ceiling.  I think Iona hit their ceiling a little earlier than BYU did.  BYU had to fight back.  It shows how tough both teams were early in the game.
BYU couldn't get, like they wanted to do, they couldn't get the pace they wanted to, so they had to adjust.  I think they adjusted well and came out with the victory.

Q.¬† Jae, as a big guy, obviously, you feel comfortable playing anyone, but did you‑‑ would you have rather played a team like Iona fast up and down or a big team that's going to be more of a battle like against BYU?
JAE CROWDER:  When you recall when we played UConn, they played four to five, two centers like that.  We can make it beneficial to us because we can run, but Iona was playing at a high level.
Of course, we like to play at a high level.¬† But at the same time, I'm willing to guard either way with the running four or with a post‑up type four.
Of course, BYU had the two post‑up type guys.¬† I think we have a good feel on them. ¬†Jamail have a good feel on them, what they like to do and stuff like that.¬† I think we'll be fine.

Q.  D.J., do you expect to see some zone?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† I would think so.¬† I think we're a pretty fast team in transition.¬† That's one of the of our assets as far as scoring.¬† We do a good job of getting the ball out on the floor.¬† I think we're going to see a lot of zone.
The main thing is not for us to be so passive with teams on us, trying to stay as aggressive as possible.¬† We want to get the ball below the free‑throw line, of course, and attack the zone from there.

Q.  What was it like preparing?  You don't know who you're going to play until late last night.  What was preparation and practice like?  How cool was it this morning once you found out who you were going to play?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† We've kind of been preparing with both teams.¬† Once we knew who our opponent was going to be.¬† We did both the teams' breakdown on what they like to do on offense.
When we found out we were playing BYU, we kind of did a flow this morning, just to get a better understanding of the team and what they like to do on both ends of the court.  Today, went in and worked on it.  I think a lot of guys understand what we have to do in order for us to be successful against a team like BYU.

Q.  Jae, can you take us through your decision to come to Marquette, and what was it about the school that appealed to you after playing in junior college?
JAE CROWDER:  I couldn't say if it was at school more than it was Buzz.  I built a great relationship with him over the years, or over the few months that we had, going to almost a year, but I think the relationship that we built was something that I had never had with a coach trying to recruit me.
I think he separated himself when he told me straight up like what to expect, not beat around the bush with anything, just telling me what to expect from him and what to expect from the program and how he run things and how things are done at Marquette.
I think more so him and my relationship because I never visited‑‑ as we all know, I never visited Marquette until I committed here.¬† So I think the relationship between me and him helped me make my decision much easier.

Q.  So what did you think then your first winter in Milwaukee?
JAE CROWDER:  I hate it, still hate it to this day.  I can't adjust to it.  There's no adjusting to it.  Just like you can't adjust to the heat in the South.  I dislike it, though, but I deal with it.

Q.  For both you players, I've known Buzz for a long time.  He kind of marches to the beat of a different drummer sometimes.  Can you tell me something about your impression of him as being a little bit different from most coaches?  How intense is he when he really gets wound up about basketball?
JAE CROWDER:  His energy is crazy.  As we all know, he's not afraid to show it at any moment of the game or things like that.  But he's like that each and every day.
People don't realize he's like that at practice.  We just got out of practice today, and he was all wired up and ready to go.  He's just excited.  When he's excited, it shows a lot more than your typical head coach.
I think his energy is above a lot of head coaches, and just because he's a young coach and he loves the job what he does.  So it shows.
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† His characteristics of a coach are not similar to any coach, I would say, in the NCAA.¬† He's a different coach.¬† His energy is always at a high level.¬† His intensity is always at a high level, which feeds on his players.
He's able to talk to his players without them breaking down, giving them some kind of momentum back or telling them the truth to let them know that this is real.  He does a great job of just talking to his guys and letting them know that every chance you have, you have to make the best of it.
I think a lot of guys here have done that.

Q.  As seniors, how have you two individually prepared for the tournament, and how have you helped prepare the team for the tournament?
JAE CROWDER:  I think individually, you just have to find a great state of mind for yourself and just find a way to approach it personally with people saying there's a lot of pressure on us.  But it's really not.  It's a team thing.
You have to help the youngpeople who haven't been here.  We have four guys who haven't been here in the tournament at all, and we know that, and we're just trying to help them block out the media and things like that and all the people taking pictures.  Just the little things that can distract you from winning the ball game.  We just try to help them out and try to encourage them to realize that it's just a basketball game.
It comes down to winning or losing, of course.  But I think me and him have done a great job, and it still is in process right now until we play our first game.  I think we've been doing a great job.
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† I think for me and Jae, we just have to find a way to get our guys to follow us, which they do a great job of doing anyway.¬† But at the end of the day, we have to be there for them, to help them as well.
I think the most thing is preparing for a team that guys haven't played or guys know nothing about, like me and Jae.  Me and Jae have been in college for a while.  We're kind of used to watching basketball and other teams in other conferences.  So for the younger guys who are just really focused on our conference and really don't know a lot about other teams and other players, I think it's more important for us, for me and Jae to help them understand how you should prepare for a team like BYU.
The focus and the mental focus you have to have for a game like this, it comes down to winning and losing, like Jae said.  Of course we want to win, but it's the little things that we're going to have to do in order for us to win.

Q.  Jae, how do you think you guys match up against BYU, and what potential concerns might they present you?
JAE CROWDER:  I think they're a great offensive team.  They do a lot of great things offensively.  They can push the ball.  They can play at a different pace, like a lot of other teams.  I think we match up with them fairly well other than the two post players.
I think their guard play and our guard play is pretty high level.¬† And I think the way they play, they have to adjust to us more so than us adjusting to them because they do like to double‑team and things like that.¬† I think defensively, we can really distract them and take away a lot of things from them.¬† Hopefully, that's what we plan on.
When they can see the floor and they can make decisions and run their offense, they're pretty good.¬† But when you take that away from them and try to deny it, get in the passing lanes and deny the ball from them, I think they'll struggle a little bit.¬† I think that's what we'll try to do going into the game.¬† I think the matchup will be‑‑ it's very similar because they can run with us, and they can play the half‑court game.¬† We can play the half‑court game, and we can run as well.¬† I think it's very similar in the way we play, in the styles that we play.

Q.  Is there any concern that they've got the tournament environment kind of under their belts, playing a little more recently?  Maybe the first four or five minutes, they could try to use that as an edge?
JAE CROWDER:  I don't think it's a factor, to be honest.
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† It's a plus for them, but I don't think it's going to hurt us, by any means.¬† We have a couple guys who have played in the NCAA Tournament, and I think everybody knows the stage of this environment.¬† You have to be ready.¬† You have to be prepared for teams like that, like BYU.
When you dissect a team like BYU, you just can't look at them and say, well, guys from the west coast, you wouldn't think they would be able to run as fast as they are.  I think we've just got to do a good job of being focused and mentally prepared.

Q.  Jae, when you came back for this year, you had some goals you wanted to accomplish.  What specifically were they, and what did you do over the summer to achieve them?
And, Darius, could you see a difference in Jae when you guys came back in the fall?
JAE CROWDER:¬† Personally, as a team, going into the‑‑ being a leader of a team your last year in college, you just want to get further and have a better season than you did collectively the year before.¬† I think we've done that.
Individually, I just wanted to have all my numbers on the defensive end and offensive end go up.  And I think that's one thing that stood out to me was to try to make my numbers go up, not down.  If you go down, you feel like you went backwards the whole year.
I think I've done a great job of pushing myself.  Over the summer, the time spent with my father and working on my game personally without no one else in the game and stuff like that.  I think that really helped me build confidence going into my senior year, on the offensive end inside and outside, and being aggressive on the defensive end.
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† Last year, by watching Jae, I think everybody knew he could play.¬† Obviously, he wasn't very‑‑ he wasn't engaged.¬† He didn't really understand the pace and the play that we played at in Marquette, but he was obviously one of our top players.
This year, to see him how far he has worked to get to where he is now, I'm truly blessed to be around a player like Jae.  He's always, always talking to you, always encouraging you.  He's going to be on your back when you're not doing right.
When you have a senior, a fellow senior like Jae, it makes the game a lot easier.  It makes a lot of things a lot easier.  You take a lot of pressure off yourself.  So I'm just blessed to be around a good player like Jae Crowder.

Q.  For the two of you, being the two seniors and also being roommates, how has your guys' relationship grown in the past two years to where it is now?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† The year prior, me and Jae wasn't roommates last year, but we were cool on the court.¬† But when we moved in together, I think we kind of noticed that we had the same similarities.
Me and Jae, we get in fights all the time on the court, and we're able to go back to the room and play NBA 2K, talk about what we need to do to win this next game.
So I think we both have helped each other.  I think he has helped me more, not just as a basketball player, but as a person because we talk about a lot of things off the court as well.
JAE CROWDER:  I think our relationship off the court really helped us lead and be a true leader on the court.  I think a lot of stuff that happened off the court really grew us up as humans and as basketball players, and I think it showed this year because without us being roommates, it would have been tough getting all the stuff we've accomplished off the court get accomplished.
I think it was a great move for us to just be roommates and just talk about stuff like that and how to lead and how to criticize each other when no one else is around.  I think it helped us put it together, all together on the court for sure.

Q.  Going to last year, you were an 11th seed, the underdog.  How is the mentality different this year as the higher seed for both the first and potentially second rounds?
JAE CROWDER:¬† You really don't want to get caught up into that.¬† That's what we've been preaching the whole‑‑ since we got the seed.¬† You don't want to get caught up in the numbers because that's something you can't take care of.
But should you have the same mentality as we did last year.  We were hungry.  We were fighting.  We were just scrapping just to stay alive.  I think you still have to have that same mentality because at the end of the day, you have an opponent.  They want to take you out, you want to take them out.  You have to have the same mentality and not get caught up in all the numbers and stuff like that.
I think Buzz and them have done a great job preaching that to us, to not get caught up in all the hype and stuff like that, and we bought into it.
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† I don't really see‑‑ I don't even know what's the point of those numbers, to be honest with you, because everyone is a 1 seed in my eyes.¬† Anybody can beat anybody on any given day.¬† You've got to play to win.¬† It doesn't matter who's the opponent.
Even though we felt like we were the underdog, we knew we could win those games.  You've got to have that type of mentality going in, no matter who's your opponent.  We just can't look at those numbers.

Q.  Darius, I've got a followup.  You said that you get in fights all the time on the court.  What do you mean by that, and do you guys ever argue or fight when you're at home?
DARIUS JOHNSON‑ODOM:¬† Me and Jae, we might get in a pushing contest, depending on‑‑ this is probably happening when we're not on the same team because we're really trying to win.
Even though he's 6'6", like 270, I guard him in the post, and I foul the whole time.  So that could be part of it.  But when we're at home, me and Jae, we're probably the two silliest dudes that I know.  So we don't really get in any problems at the house.  Other than that.  So it's just on the court.

Q.  Jae, I don't know if you'll necessarily guard Hartsock, 34, their four.  But he's a guy that maybe isn't the most vertically or athletically gifted.
JAE CROWDER:  I watched the game last night, and I think I will guard him.  I would like to do that.  I know it's a challenge because he's a great offensive player.  He has a great midrange game.  He can shoot the ball pretty well.
I think he's the key for them to victory, just like he showed last night.  I think, if you take him out, they struggle.  I'm willing to take on that challenge, but he's a great player.

Q.  Jae, could you all reflect on the last time Marquette came to the Yum Center and if the team was able to get anything from a very painful loss?
JAE CROWDER:  When I first got in here, I smelled the chicken being cooked.  So that reminded me of the last time we were here.
We let one go here the last time, but it's a different team, different environment, different things like that.  The same gym, though.
The players we played last year remember the last time we were in here, and it wasn't a great feeling.  So we're trying to change that around when we leave here.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, guys.  Good luck.
I'd like to welcome Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams to the stage here.  We'll go ahead and begin with questions from the media.

Q.  Buzz, I know you've been asked about this before, but can you just describe how much Jae has meant to your program and how far he's come in the two years that you've had him?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I think his path to Marquette is a story in and of itself, and I think his time with us has been a story in itself as well.
Both of them are really good stories.¬† Both of them speak to who he is as a person.¬† I think his trajectory as a player and his value to our team, from the day that he arrived on campus, which was the first day of school his junior year‑‑ he wasn't here the summer before because he had some academic responsibilities.¬† But it's hard to quantify what he's meant to us.
We won 22 games last year and won 25 thus far this year.  I don't know that we could have won any of those games without what he brought to our team.

Q.  Have you talked to our texted Dave Rose since last night?
COACH WILLIAMS:  No.  What time did Dave get here, about 4:00 this morning?  So they spent the night in Dayton?

Q.  Took a bus this morning.
COACH WILLIAMS:  That was probably smart.  I have not.  I have the utmost respect for who Dave is as a human being, the utmost.  Even when I initially met you, that was initially when I met him.  Our relationship obviously has blossomed since then.
Man, you talk about his story, junior college head coach, assistant coach, Phi Slama Jama.  Cancer survivor.  Just who he is, his beliefs, his morals, I stand at attention in respect for who he and Cheryl are.
Then you look at his head coaching record.  I think he's got to be one of the top two or three most unheralded head coaches in the country.  He's won 78 percent of his games, been coach of the year in the league three years in a row in the Mountain West, a league that I'm familiar with.  Been to the NCAA Tournament every single year, had coached the player of the year at BYU.  Had that ever happened before?
I mean, I just‑‑ I stand at attention for who he is as a person and as a professional.

Q.  Buzz, what did you think of that BYU game last night, and how do you think the two teams match up?
COACH WILLIAMS:  I've never seen anything like it in all my life.  I was ready to see the game.  I was tired of preparing for two teams.  I wanted to see a lot of different things within the matchup.
BYU's not near as slow as you would think, and it's hard, unless you watch Iona, to explain how fast they are.  But BYU's offensive numbers are very comparable to Iona's from an efficiency standpoint, from an effectiveness standpoint.  But I had never seen an NCAA Tournament game like that.
They had it wired into our conference room at the hotel, and that's why I got so fat last year because I'm just watching tape and eating chips and drinking soda.  Man, I was a basket case watching that game.  Scored 55 points in the first 14:30, and then you play the next 25:30 and score 17.
I'm watching Dave.¬† I don't think‑‑ Dave doesn't use profanity, but I don't think he even thought about using profanity.¬† Never saw him stand up and lose his mind.¬† I thought it was a great game.¬† Great game.

Q.¬† What's would it be like when you looked at the bracket?¬† There's a potential of a Marquette‑Colorado State matchup in the second round.¬† What would that be like for you given that was kind of where you got your D‑I roots?
COACH WILLIAMS:  It's my fourth favorite school of all time.  My first job was UTA.  My second job was Northwestern State.  And Marquette is my favorite job now.  So that pushes CSU down to four.
But I've been unbelievably blessed, best human being I've ever known in my life is Dale Layer.  I worked for the coach there as you know.  It's ironic how God works, that I would have an opportunity to then hire him at Marquette.  So they are building our home in Mequon, a suburb of Milwaukee.  And I've never built a home and never have lived in a home longer than two years, and that was when I was at CSU, which is where I bought my first home.
So we're building the home, and I have to fire the guy that's building it.  So it's about 80 percent done, and we move in, even though it's not completed.  So we take a year off from building it and find somebody else to finish it.
So when they're finishing it, the garage, the guy says, Coach, we've got to paint the garage.  And I said, this is the only thing that I contributed to the building of our home.  My wife handled everything else.  I said, I want you to get on the internet and find out the true colors of Colorado State, and I want you to get the logo, and I want you to paint the garage the colors of Colorado State, and I want the logo to take up this wall.
And so in our garage, as soon as I pull in the garage, there's a Colorado State Ram as big as that scoreboard as soon as I pull in.  The entire garage, top, ceiling, side, everything, is the green and gold of Colorado State.
Because when I drive in every day, no matter what's happened in my life that day, it takes me back to 18 days before I got married, I was hired at CSU, that my two oldest children were born at Poudre Valley Hospital.  It reminds me of my growth as a coach and as a husband and as a father by the example that Coach Layer set for me when I was there.  It kind of takes away some of the hype and some of the things that surround my current job, and it's refreshing and pure to me.
So when I saw the bracket, I had a lot of things come to my mind.  Who are we going to play?  When are we going to know who we're going to play?  My respect for Coach Rose.  A potential to play CSU, play Murray State in a home game.  There was a lot of stuff that went through my mind.

Q.  Buzz, last week you said you didn't want to fill the players' heads with too much information having to prepare for two teams.  How did the team watch the game last night, and what did you tell them to look for, if anything?
COACH WILLIAMS:¬† So you know this, we have a two‑day before game return, one day before, and day of.¬† Obviously, the two‑day before game routine, we didn't know who we were playing.
So we've been able to work on us, which I think is healthy.¬† What we did was we watched tape on us prior to the start of the BYU‑Iona game last night.¬† And then I told our team, you guys can go watch it in your rooms, or you're welcome to stay where we were at in the conference room.
So Jamail stayed the whole time with me.  Jae and Junior joined us at halftime, and then all our guys were watching it in our room.  And this morning before we had the real practice, we were able to clip out things we would typically show the day before a game.
So we were able to work on some of those things this morning.  And some of that I had kind of infiltrated through practice on Monday and Tuesday.  But, obviously, we were able to focus more on BYU today than we have in the past.

Q.  Coach, so D.J. and Jae came out and said they've been trying to help the younger guys really focus on the little things and really maintain that little focus in the tournament.  How have you seen that throughout the year from D.J. and Jae?
COACH WILLIAMS:¬† I think that's why we're where we're at, to be honest with you.¬† You know, you think about, Tess, I guess you were a senior in high school.¬† We went to the Sweet 16 last year, and our team was comprised of two recruiting classes.¬† That is really, really unhealthy from a coaching roster standpoint that you would play in the best league in the country with the most at‑large teams ever invited from that league, and it's comprised of two recruiting classes.
So this year, we've had more returning players than we ever have during our tenure here, and I think the leadership of Darius and Jae off the floor is a big part of why we're still where we're at.  So I think it's been huge.

Q.¬† Two‑part question.¬† Them having a little bit of tournament experience so far under their belt, you feel that's a concern.¬† And your thoughts on Noah Hartsock.¬† His team talks about him not being the most athletic guy, but he's clearly got some ability there.
COACH WILLIAMS:¬† I think it's advantageous they've already played.¬† There's two teams in the 2012 NCAA Tournament that are 1‑0, and I think that's advantageous.
When I was an assistant at CSU, I recruited Noah.¬† I think Noah is four years younger than me, I think.¬† And his high school coach was texting me last night, do you remember Noah?¬† I'm like, yeah, I remember Noah.¬† I think he's the most effective one‑two player in Division I.
If you were to look at his effectiveness not in the paint and not behind the three‑point line, I haven't seen a guy in a long time as effective as he is.¬† He's not a post.¬† He's not a perimeter player.¬† He's a really good player.¬† What he has meant to their team speaks for itself.
I wouldn't necessarily classify him as an athlete, but if you look at a lot of their teams, a lot of their games, a lot of times the most athletic guy is trying to guard him to disrupt him because he's so efficient in what he does.
So I think he's really, really good, and I think we'll have our hands full with him and Davies.  I think the combination of those two guys in the frontcourt are maybe as good as there is in the country.
THE MODERATOR:  Coach, thank you.  Good luck.

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