Coach Williams still buzzing over No. 11 Marquette's upset of 'Cuse
Buzz Williams' joyous celebration dances have become highlights of their own
Marquette is one of four double-digit seeds to advance to the Sweet 16
Syracuse is one of nine Big East teams already eliminated from the tourney
CLEVELAND -- The Buzz is a dance, but it cannot be choreographed. The Buzz is well-documented, but it cannot be done on cue. It is a series of movements so spontaneous, and so nakedly joyous, that its eponymous performer is not even conscious of his own actions when the spirit strikes. "You can tell by watching my performance," Buzz Williams said, his voice long hoarse, "that I have no idea that I'm doing it. Or that I know what to do when I'm doing it."
But if The Buzz -- so named by Williams' star forward, Jimmy Butler -- is anything, it is predictable. And Sunday night, after 11th-seeded Marquette upset No. 2 Syracuse, 66-62, it took only the post-game handshake line for it to be unleashed in an epic hail of high-steps and arm pumps that quickly darkened the pink dress shirt beneath Williams' gray suit.
"It only makes it worse when he has all of our energy to surround him," Butler said in the tunnel after the game. "I'm so glad we could do it for him. I'm so glad we could do it for ourselves."
Williams and Butler can both thank Golden Eagles guard Darius Johnson-Odom for the celebration. Johnson-Odom, The Buzz's most famous muse, took Butler's spinning, almost 360-degree dish on the right wing and drained a dagger-three with 27 seconds remaining to break the game's 59-all tie. "When I saw it go through the net," guard Jae Crowder said, "I was thinking in my head, 'We get one stop, we can take this thing home,' to be honest with you."
And that stop came courtesy of Butler, who harassed Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine on the next possession into a badly missed three-pointer just eight seconds into the Orange shot clock. Jardine would miss his second of two foul shots with five ticks left to officially hand Marquette, the 11th of the record 11 Big East teams to make the NCAA tournament, its ticket to the Sweet 16.
The Golden Eages will proceed to play North Carolina in Newark on Friday, and after the game Williams could not help but revel in the thought. There were times this season, his assistants note, when his team was maddeningly inconsistent, when the players did not live up to their potential, when they were booed by their own fans en route to a 20-14 regular season record and 9-9 mark in the country's deepest conference. But Marquette, which shut down Xavier last Friday, recommitted itself to defense in the past month and held Orange big man Rick Jackson to just seven points. Now, the Golden Eagles, along with Connecticut, are the only two Big East teams left in the tournament. And the results, like Williams, have finally spoken for themselves.
Yes, it was only Saturday that the admittedly neurotic, smooth-headed Texan shattered the tournament record for the longest answer to any single question asked in a press conference -- extemporaneously expending 1,519 words and almost 10 minutes about his career ambitions.
Sunday? Williams seemed almost choked up when noting that there were four former junior college students on the victorious dais: Butler, Johnson-Odom, Crowder -- who tied the game on a huge, late three of his own -- and himself. Asked how he felt about joining a regional that included North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio State, Williams said his team had been "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."
And then Williams quoted Robert Frost ("Two roads diverged in the woods. Those three guys and myself, we took the road less traveled") and Albert Einstein ("Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted").
Make no mistake, though: when Williams ultimately stomped around the court, and yelled "OH MY GOD!" into people's faces, and leapt to high-five fans en route to the tunnel ("I'm never going to wash this hand!" one Marquette fan yelled), such deep thoughts were not what the coach was thinking. Williams, in fact, was not thinking much of anything. He had just started dancing, and no one knew when he was going to stop.