MILWAUKEE – Brent "Buzz" Williams was announced as the 16th Men's Basketball coach at Marquette University on Tuesday afternoon. More than 500 people were in attendance at the Al McGuire center for the introduction.
The decision to hire Williams came quickly from the university, but its representatives insist that they have found the right guy.
"It was the total package with Buzz," said Athletic Director Steve Cottingham. "The one thing that Buzz has is commitment, drive and hunger. This program needed a hungry person to take over, and that's what Buzz is."
Marquette President Fr. Robert A. Wild, S.J. began the press conference with encouraging words.
"There are coaches who do not want that challenge, but in Buzz, we have someone who does, someone whom we believe in, and someone whom has really exceeded expectations in every single job he's ever held."
Williams, 35, said he was humbled and grateful for the opportunity. He quickly turned away the attention from him and put the spotlight on his players.
"The very most important thing, today, tomorrow are our players," Williams said. "The players that will be here right now, the players and coaches that were here before us, the players that will come to replace these guys, are bigger than anyone."
Williams wanted to reiterate that the winning tradition would continue at Marquette, and that he was ready for the challenge.
"We're going do things the right way, on and off the floor. They're going to go to class every day. They're going to earn a Jesuit education."
Fans may know little about Williams. But if they know any one fact, it is that he is a tireless recruiter.
When asked what kind of coaching philosophy he has, Williams simply stated, ""I'm a winning guy. That's what I want to be about. I want to win."
"He's about being fast paced, get out and run, and play good defense, like we already were," Hayward said.
Junior Dominic James said, "He's going to go out and let us play the game we love, and that's running up and down the court – playing in transition."
The straight-shootin' Texan is one of the hardest workers Marquette has come across in the coaching ranks, and since Williams joined the program last year, that hard-working mentality has rubbed off on his new team.
"We just can't wait to get going and get our work done," Hayward said. "He's going to make us work, but it's going to make us a lot better.
"He's going to work very hard, and we have a guy on our side that's a competitor. He never stops working."
"Whether it's recruiting or it's coaching, it's all about relationships."
When Williams spoke at the press conference, there were two characteristics that simply oozed out of him. One was the work ethic, and the other was his strong relationships with other people.
Williams started his coaching career by writing letters to over 400 different coaches throughout the country. He picked their brains about certain situations, he asked questions, and he went around meeting as many different coaches as he possibly could.
The more he talked, the more he learned. And before he had even graduated college, he had several assistant coaching offers on the table.
Williams also mentioned the fact that he has been the chief recruiter at most of his stops so far. He expects that to continue at Marquette, but he also believes that building good relationships is integral to all parts of his new job.
"When you first contact a guy, they're going to remember how strong their relationship is with you," said Williams. "The same thing goes with coaching. The players you have must have a good relationship for you to be successful. If you're on their level, you're going to win a lot of games. That makes everyone look good."
"His work ethic is unbelievable and second to none," added Cottingham. "He is an outstanding recruiter who will bring the highest quality student athletes to this campus."
He's also going to start by recruiting "home base" first. He doesn't have a lot of roots in Wisconsin, but feels that it's essential to start finding talent in-state.
What kind of players is he going to recruit? Cottingham hopes the ones that are best for the university.
"He is somebody who will welcome the style of play that is attractive to young men following an NBA dream. "
Players like Dominic James and Jerel McNeal, perhaps?
Dominic James and Jerel McNeal
The questions surrounding the enrollment status of Marquette's two leading junior guards may continue for James, but McNeal stated Tuesday that he is coming back for his senior year. McNeal said that he trusts Williams and that he's 100% committed to this team.
What about James?
"I'm looking forward to playing with Coach Buzz and going to war with him. He has our backs, no doubt," said the junior point-guard.
So that means you're coming back, Dominic?
"With Buzz, he'll tell it to you straight, so I feel confident to put my future in his hands and he'll guide me in the right direction."
While James gave no definite answer as to whether he will ultimately forgo his final year for the NBA, he maintained that he hasn't thought about the draft in recent weeks. Instead he has turned his attention to taking on more of a leadership role on this team as it navigates out of its post-season turmoil.
"It's my obligation to be that type of leader with the guys, and we're looking forward to playing with coach Buzz.
"We want to go beyond this year – always want to be overachievers. We want to go farther than anyone ever thought we could go. We took the first step by winning a game in the NCAA Tournament this year and now it's time to dream big."
The players, especially James and McNeal plan on playing on college basketball's biggest stage in the upcoming season.
"Jerel said last night, ‘What would it feel like if we were there?' And we're going to try our hardest to get to that point, because we want to know what it feels like."
Marco Radenkovich is a sophomore majoring in supply chain management. Cara Corradino is a sophomore majoring in public relations.