March Madness

While reports of negotiations with Missouri head coach and former Arkansas assistant Mike Anderson continue to abound, Marquette's Buzz Williams and VCU's Shaka Smart - two other candidates mentioned in the mix - pad their resumes by leading their teams into the Sweet 16 with major upsets.

New day, no new coach.

Will it happen on Monday or Tuesday or will Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long be glued to the Sweet 16 this weekend for the new leader of his basketball program?

Despite continued speculation that a deal with former Razorback assistant and current Missouri head coach Mike Anderson might be close, Sunday came and went with no announcement of such.

There was a report that a 5-year, $2 million deal on the table and a short time to mull it.

"Not true," was the exact same sentiment expressed by a pair of Hawgs Illustrated's sources on both sides of the aisle.

But it is also awfully hard to believe that Long and Jimmy Sexton, Anderson's agent, haven't at least spoken and exchanged some type of figure and time frame.

Marquette head coach Buzz Williams and VCU's Shaka Smart – two other candidates - have their 11th-seeded teams dancing into the Sweet 16 and Gregg Marshall's Wichita State team marches on in the NIT.

Williams' team eliminated third-seeded Syracuse 66-62.

"I thought we tried to be way too pretty the first six or seven minutes of the game," Williams said at the post-game press conference. "We're not talented enough. I'm not a good enough coach to be able to play like that. I thought the last seven minutes of the first half we were much more active. I thought we were playing much harder. I thought we were tougher.

"And I thought that in the second half, I thought we were okay," Williams added. "I thought our energy level at times was really good, and even when it was poor, we were able to hang in there."

Marquette's players were asked about reaching the Sweet 16, but Williams couldn't resist bringing out the humor first.

"I'll help answer that," Williams said. "I'm not a student-athlete. It's four junior college guys up here, D.J., Jae, Jimmy and Buzz. Four jucs. We were trying to figure out if we could eat at McDonald's or Burger King. We weren't sure what Sweet 16 meant other than it was our 16th birthday."

Williams, also thought to be a strong candidate for the Oklahoma job if he chose to pursue it, also later joked about a previous loss to Missouri and Anderson in the NCAA Tournament.

"Well, we're 3 and 3 in the NCAA Tournament since I've been the head coach," Williams said. "The games that we have lost -- we lost to Missouri. I don't know if you remember that. That was when I was standing at half court acting as if I was an airplane, and then I covered my mouth and used all the letters in the alphabet because of how the game ended."

Williams, who ran to the stands to hug his wife and kidsat the buzzer, also talked about how he stresses to his guys to keep their eye on what's important.

"As you progress through life, whatever your goals may be, make sure you keep your eye on the donut, not on the hole," Williams said. "And so I think that when you've been through something like that, like what we've been through, you've got to believe it. And I know that's kind of coach-speak or cliche, but I do believe it."

Smart's VCU team routed third-seeded Purdue 94-76.

"When we started the year, we gave our team a motto, and it was our time right now," Smart said after the win. "The purpose of that motto was, for our seniors, for our older players, to understand -- Eric Maynard is in the NBA, Larry Sanders is now in the NBA, this is your team. This is our time.

"And right now a part of it is it's now or never because, at this point, obviously, in the season, when you lose, you go home," Smart added. "And for our four seniors, this is their last opportunity…I think our group over the last couple weeks, our conference tournament and this run in the NCAA Tournament has really sunk their teeth into living that motto. "

Wichita State won at Virginia Tech 79-76 in overtime in an NIT game that started at 10 a.m.

The Shockers will host the College of Charleston on Wednesday night with the winner advancing to play in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

The names of UCLA's Ben Howland and Kansas State's Frank Martin – both who had teams eliminated from the tournament on Saturday – continue to be mentioned in the mix.


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