NASHVILLE - "Take it easy, Frogger," shouted a Tennessee fan after Lazar Hayward hit a three in the second half. This shot cut the lead to two points, and head coach Buzz Williams was jumping for joy.
"TIME OUT! TIME OUT!" Williams yelled. He had to yell multiple times to get the attention of the officials – his voice was terribly hoarse. "Great shot, Zar! Great shot! Let's go, let's go!"
In years past when Marquette would hit a big shot to force the opponent to call a timeout, the likes of Dan Fitzgerald, Mike Kinsella and Lawrence Blackledge would be seen jumping out of their seats to congratulate their teammates.
This year, look no farther than the head coach.
If you thought Tom Crean was animated on the sidelines, you're not "Buzzed" yet. While he doesn't pace, Williams gets just as intense – he's practically sprinting onto the court to give someone a high five for a big block, big three-pointer or for no reason at all.
While Williams is always the first to pat a player on the back, he's also the first to criticize. Tuesday night against Tennessee, Williams shouted scornfully at David Cubillan for not fighting through a screen.
Exchanges like that show what's important to Williams. Did he use this as a way of showing everyone that a simple possession in the first half of a game means so much?
"The big four got it," Williams said. "The other guys are starting to get it. You see, every single day is so critical because we have to get better."
And if you think Williams didn't literally mean "every possession" he showed it in the first half Tuesday night. Tennessee was taking the ball out under their own hoop, and right before that, Dale Layer helped Williams draw up a play to stop Tennessee's inbounds play.
Williams' attention to detail spreads to the other assistants, too. Aki Collins is constantly grabbing the jersey of someone on the bench and telling them to get in. Tony Benford always has an open seat next to him as he waits for a player that's been freshly subbed out of the game. Benford and Collins, along with Layer, are always teaching. They're always making the team better.
Williams knows that, as a second-year head coach, he may face teams that get calls due to their famous head coaches – "When you look on our side and you see me, then you look on their side and see Pitino, Calhoun, Ryan, Boeheim… there isn't much doubt to who's getting the call."
Yet he's trying to schmooze the officials as much as possible to get an extra call here or there.
"Buzz, please stay in the [coaching] box," official Tim Higgins said.
"Thanks for reminding me, Tim. Have I ever told you that you're the best official," Williams said.
Higgins laughed. "Best where?! And even if I am, I'm still gonna make you stay in the box!"
Your head may spin watching the bench of the Golden Eagles bench, but each intricacy is vital to the team's success. The small attention to detail may seem obsessive, but it will lead to future success.
Because they're always getting better.
Marco Radenkovich is a junior majoring in supply chain management.