THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with an opening statement by Coach Buzz Williams, and then we'll direct questions to the Marquette student athletes and follow that with questions to the coach. Coach, if you don't mind, opening statement.
COACH WILLIAMS: I think BYU is a really good team. I think their frontcourt causes a lot of problems. Because you almost have to trap those two guys.
The problem is, when you trap them, they've got guys on the perimeter that can make shots, and that forces you into rotation. As I said yesterday, I have the utmost respect for Coach Rose and who he is as a person and as a professional.
We're fortunate that we're able to continue to play, and it's been a long time since I've played an NCAA Tournament game on the road, but we'll figure out how to do that between now and Saturday.
THE MODERATOR: Let's start with questions to the student athletes.
Q. Jae, let's talk about coming out of the Big East tournament, how frustrated were you and disappointed in your game there? How much were you looking forward to getting back in the NCAA Tournament, and then you come out and have this monster game today?
Jae Crowder: I wouldn't say I was frustrated. I was disappointed in myself, disappointed in the way we played. I just was looking forward to the next game.
The next one was the NCAA Tournament, so that was the only time I could redeem myself in that way. So I was just looking forward to it. Didn't really get down on myself because you're going to have bad games.
When it counts, it's the next one. So I was looking forward to it.
Q. Junior, Jae and D.J. take a lot of your shots, a very high percentage. How conscious are you of trying to make sure that those two guys get the ball in good spots?
Junior Cadougan: As a point guard and as a general on the floor, as a coach on the floor, I have to make sure that my guys are getting put in the right spots and they're getting to the open spaces where they can hit shots like Jae and D.J. have been doing all year long.
Guys like Todd Mayo and Vander Blue that want to take those shots that I give them. So it's my job to put them in the right spots and get them the right shots.
COACH WILLIAMS: So you know, Junior, this is the first time since you've been here and since I've been here that we've won a game that Mike's been here. That was our first win. We're 1 6.
Q. Junior, did you think you guys set a positive tone for yourself right off from the start, 18 5 at the beginning there?
JUNIOR CADOUGAN: Yeah, we did a great job. We came out with a lot of poise, a lot of energy, and we're ready to play. We kept on doing it, and we're consistent and came out with the win.
Q. For any of you guys, you obviously were familiar with what BYU did on Tuesday night. When they opened the second half with that run, what did you think, and what did you know you needed to do to stop it?
JAE CROWDER: We knew they were going to come out with a run because they have fight in them like any other team in the NCAA Tournament. They do not want to go home.
We just wanted to have a lot of poise, didn't want to get too carried away, didn't want to get too caught up in the game at that point. Just wanted to continue to do what we do and that got us the lead.
We knew it was coming. We just wanted to overcome it, and I think we did that.
Q. Darius, you scored eight points in the first eight minutes to keep Marquette ahead as BYU was making their run. Anything you did differently, any mindset change in the first eight minutes of the second half?
Darius Johnson ODOM: No. I think my team did a great job of finding me in open shots. I tried to rebound more in the second half just so I can get the ball and bring it up the court a little bit more.
It was nothing different. I try to stay poised when I'm playing. I have a great nucleus around me, and they do a great job of finding me as well. Nothing new for me.
Q. D.J., Todd's been struggling a little bit, but he hit a couple of big threes for you guys in the second half. Kind of good to see him get going?
DARIUS JOHNSON ODOM: It's always good to see him. I don't think he has been struggling as much as other people think. He does a great job on the defensive end. He has a lot of energy that he brings to us.
Just because he's not making shots, I don't think he's struggling at all. He's one of our key defenders, and when he's able to come in and play with a high intensity level and bring that energy, then we'll do fine.
Q. Jae, you said after Georgetown that Davante, you told Coach that he was ready to go. How do you think he did today?
JAE CROWDER: I think he did great. He came in and really set the tone and really guarded their post players real well.
I think he's aware of what he can do. He's still limited as of right now, but I think he's getting better each and every day. With the day off tomorrow, I think he'll rehab his knee and be ready to play come Saturday.
But I think he's doing his job right now as much as he can. I think he's giving us what we need. He'll continue to do that. I think he played well tonight.
Q. Did you guys get to see any of the previous game against Murray State? If so, what's your thoughts going into what will probably be a road like environment?
DARIUS JOHNSON ODOM: I got to see a little bit of it. The environment was like they were playing at home. They have a lot of fans here. They're a great team. They're just as fast as we are, and they can shoot the ball as well.
I only got to watch about seven minutes of it. We'll learn more about them tonight.
JAE CROWDER: Me and Junior was in the locker room the whole time. So we didn't get a chance to watch.
THE MODERATOR: Now I'll open it up to the media for questions for Coach Williams.
Q. Hey, Buzz. Just talk about Jae's performance today. How much do you think he was looking forward to this game coming out of the Big East tournament. And also, just talk about playing a Kentucky team in Kentucky with all these Kentucky fans on Saturday.
COACH WILLIAMS: Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky Wesleyan, Northern Kentucky all of those schools we've already sent a memo out explaining to them we'll be happy to pay for their tickets if they'll come and support us. It will definitely be a road game.
I would say that they'll have more fans here than they have at home because of the arena.
So I thought Jae was outstanding. I think all of us, to be honest, including our staff, was outstanding in our preparation once we left New York. As I said, after that game, was Jae below average, Junior, all those guys were below average, but so was I. So I think we were anxious in the right way relative to our preparation, our energy level, and having a purpose once we got here.
I think the thing that there was a little bit of a disconnect in that we didn't know until Tuesday night at 12:30 a.m. who we were playing, so there was a little bit of a disconnect. But I'm not sure that, in hindsight, it wasn't the best thing for us because Sunday before the show, Monday, Tuesday, we were able to completely concentrate on us, and I think that was healthy for all of us.
Q. Buzz, what did you think about how you guys started the game?
COACH WILLIAMS: I anticipated it. We got here this morning for shootaround. You can only have balls for 20 minutes. So we went 20 minutes without a ball, 20 minutes with a ball and did all the things that we typically do.
I'm definitely a feel type human relative to people, relative to my job. I thought there was a great vibe this morning. I could sense it. I thought they were really good in the locker room prior to the game. So I anticipated us having the start that we had because I thought everybody was locked in.
Coach Benford was stellar in his preparation with our team in regards to BYU because it had been split up. Half of them on BYU, half of them on Iona, half of them on CSU, half of them on Murray State. So Tony did an unbelievable job.
I think our start was really healthy.
Q. When you came to Marquette, you had Jerel and Wes and Dominic, and they were sort of the focus, and it sort of continued on to now with Jae and D.J. Is that something that you believed in before you came to Marquette? Was it part of your past, or is it just something you embraced and now you want to continue?
COACH WILLIAMS: I was just grateful to have the job, and very thankful for the leadership of Dominic and Wes and Dwight Burke. Those were four seniors that had been recruited and coached by Coach Green from the very beginning, and they embraced me for what I wanted relative to the changes from Coach Green. Not saying I was right or I was wrong.
I think, as it played itself out, last year we were a Sweet 16 team that was comprised of two recruiting classes, which no matter who would have been hired as the head coach, that's what it was going to be because there was such a huge turnover relative to scholarships once year number one was completed.
I think the thing that's helped our team this year, Mike, is we have more experienced players than we've ever had. Honestly, statistically, what D.J. and Jae have given us is arguably the best any two players ever have in a two year period when they've played together. But I think that their leadership off the floor has helped to create distinct niches of our new players on the floor.
You know, they're talking about Todd and Derrick and Juan and Mellow. Those guys have been able to have distinct niches despite the injury to Chris, despite the injuries to Davante. It's been tumultuous with the injuries. But I think their leadership off the floor has been outstanding.
Q. On Tuesday, you said that Davante wasn't going to interrupt the rotation, and then tonight he played 22 minutes, was effective in the post. Was that just an adjustment to BYU's size, or what was that?
COACH WILLIAMS: No, I like messing with Davante because I know you're going to Twitter what I say, and I know he reads it. So I use you as a conduit to make sure Davante understands what I'm going to say.
Q. Buzz, what did you have to say in the huddle to get you guys not to try to hit the home run ball, the three, to try to put them away? Because it looked like some possessions there, you came down, and nothing went in the paint, and you kept trying to shoot threes and put them away.
COACH WILLIAMS: We had 38 possessions in the first half. I'm not sure in the second half. But we want to have 53 paint touches per game and less than 12 non paint touches. Obviously, that's dependent upon the pace of the game.
But 32 of our first 38 possessions today were in the paint, and I thought that, similar to what Coach Rose did against Iona, they extend that zone so high, make it really hard for to you get it to the paint. And there was some consecutive possessions there prior to the first media time out where we didn't get paint touches.
We're an above average team, I think, when the ball goes inside out. We make those shots. When the ball never gets a paint touch, because that's not what we practice and that's not what we teach, typically, through 30 prior to this game, I don't know after this game but we shot the ball 33 percent worse when we didn't have a paint touch than when we did have a paint touch.
So we're kind of wired differently. That's a good question because you're right in what you said. I'm not a home run coach. I didn't hire home run assistant coaches. We just want to be a good pitch team. And I think for the most part, we were able to throw good pitches today.
Q. When you see BYU make a run like they did, what's going through your mind, and how much of an advantage do you feel you guys have because of the size and strength that you have?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don't know. I definitely don't think that we're bigger than BYU. I think our length and our athleticism at times bothered them. But I told our team I mean, they watched the game from Tuesday as well. They're down 25 points with five minutes to go in the first half and end up winning the game. It's well documented that's the largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.
We're up 15 at half, made a really big play the last possession of the half, and I told our team, as soon as I walked in, guys, their coach was supposed to die of cancer. They're not going to quit. And you guys watched the game on Tuesday. They're not quitting.
And so similar to what Jae said, not that their run justifies it, but I think that good teams are going to make runs, and I think the response of our guys, for the most part, was very sound fundamentally on both ends.
Q. Buzz, as someone who's coached at kind of the lower level of college ball for so long, how much can you relate to it and admire what Murray State has accomplished, and is it hard for you to kind of hard for you to feel like, hey, you're the top ten team that everybody is going to be cheering against here Saturday.
COACH WILLIAMS: I have a great respect for Coach Prohm. I've known him throughout his career. I think he and I have been employed at the most Southland Conference institutions among any Division I coaches in the country.
I think they're America's team. They've been ranked ahead of us all but two weeks of the season. It will be a home game for them. Whether you're from Murray or not, I think America roots for them. I think we will definitely be the hunted team on Saturday.
But I completely identify with Steve's path. Other than God's blessing for me at Marquette, it's very similar to mine. I was lucky to get the New Orleans job, real lucky, real, real lucky. In a lot of respect, undeserving. Ray Harper should have got it. So I feel incredibly blessed.
What happens on Saturday, I don't think has anything to do with our career path as much as it does how our team performs. Teams.
Q. What did you think of Todd? Did you think those were a couple big threes he hit there in the second half?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think God blesses the intent of your heart. I don't think God really cares if we win or lose, but I think he knows our heart, and I think that Todd is an extremely intelligent player. Part of that is because of how he's been raised and the environment he's been raised in.
What ends up happening is, when you play with unbelievable energy and you're doing what you're supposed to do defensively and you're playing to the scouting report, it's funny how things allow baskets to go in.
And I thought what he was able to do for us defensively, particularly in the second half when it was getting shaky, I thought that's why he was able to make shots. And I thought they were big shots, like you said earlier.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for your time, Coach.
Quotes: DJO, Jae, Junior and Buzz
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