"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Memo to Marquette: Don't Get Sidetracked

We knew we could beat Xavier, but after years of earlier-than-hoped-for exits, there was plenty of relief from the Marquette faithful when the final buzzer went to signal our victory. And while we beat Syracuse less than two months ago, it came as a surprise to many, not only Warrior fans but also the national media. In an instant, we went from the Big East team that didn't deserve to make it in to the rag-tag bunch of JUCOs conquering the world, starting with our JUCO coach and continuing to four of our most important contributors.

It all started with Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe writing an article about Buzz's journey to the Big East and mentioning the JUCO history of himself and his players. questions to Buzz during the post-game press conferences. It continued when Buzz was joined by Crowder, Butler, and Buycks at the podium for their post-game presser after beating Syracuse. By Monday morning, it went from being a small sideshow to suddenly being "the story" about Marquette. Before I could blink, it seemed Buzz was everywhere, defending our team and their backgrounds on ESPN First Take, then on Mike & Mike, followed by Scott Van Pelt, and before the day his done he'll appear on PTI.

What Buzz has to say generally seems to follow the same script. He doesn't belong in a class with guys like Thad Matta, John Calipari, and Roy Williams. He and his players took the road less traveled. It shouldn't be about where guys like Butler and Crowder came from, but rather about their talent and accomplishments on the court. The issue isn't whether or not he and his players are "JUCO guys", but rather that they are now all "Marquette guys". And that his biggest concern is not about their roots but rather about how they represent Marquette not just on the court but also off it.

While Buzz is right on all of these points, I really wish it would all stop, and I wish Buzz would take a break. As proud as the Marquette family is of Buzz and his guys, and as impressive as their accomplishments are, the biggest thing Buzz is right about is that it isn't about where they come from. Not where they come from in terms of places like Indian Hills Community College or Tyler Junior College, but also not where they come from in terms of beating Xavier and Syracuse. When all is said and done, there will be plenty of time to look back at where all of these players and coaches came from.

Right now should be about where they are going. It should be about North Carolina. While most pundits don't give Marquette a chance, a few realize that with a week to prepare, the Warriors have a real chance to give the vaunted Tar Heels a run for their money. This team, regardless of where they may be from, has an opportunity to remind UNC that we are Warriors Forever, and that the disappointment they felt in 1977 can be handed to them all over again if Buzz and the young men that proudly represent Marquette can send them back to Chapel Hill with their tails between their legs. Critics of Marquette and its fanbase complain that we bring up 1977 too often. Well, this is one time when we can tangibly link the present to that fateful night in Atlanta. I say we do it all over again in Newark, maybe UNC can hang a banner that says "NCAA 9th Place 2011".

So my message to Buzz, his staff, and all the young men that so proudly and honorably represent all of Marquette as its Warriors is this: Forget about the past, forget about where you come from, and forget about what all the critics have to say. Because you are Marquette. You are Marquette. You represent all of us, and never once have you failed to do it in a proud and honorable manner that should make any alum, student, or fan proud to call you their brothers and frontline Warriors. So forget the talk shows, the critics, and all the crap they spew, and focus on film, game-planning, and giving us all a night to be proud of.

Win or lose, we will still be proud of you. Win or lose, we will still embrace you as our most visible representatives. Win or lose, you will still be Marquette. But make no mistake, we're all hoping for a win, and hoping to celebrate alongside you, whether its in Newark, Milwaukee, or in spirit from California, Africa, Europe, or anywhere Marquette may exist. You've got at least one more night to Grind Together and Shine Together. Focus on that, for all of us.


Ben Sturm said...

Who the hell are you to be calling out Buzz on his media appearances? Let him enjoy the moment. Do you really think he isn't working his butt of behind the scenes? Awful post.

Tracy said...

I'm utterly fascinated by Buzz. He's got this aw-shucks persona that is genuine but (I suspect) calculated. He often says "I'm not smart enough to..." and yet he's been compared to the Rain Man for his use of statistics. He's all about God and character and yet it sounds like he swears like a sailor in practices. I'm a fan, for sure, but he's a study in dichotomy.

JohnAK said...

I'm inclined to agree with Ben. You have no idea what's going on behind the scenes, and Buzz should be allowed to enjoy the moment. Plus, his media appearances provide exposure for Marquette, and that's part of his job too. Keep in mind-- while you may be following his every move, the average fan isn't, and this is still a new story to a lot of people.

Unknown said...

Buzz has been out coached in a number of games this year. Roy Williams completely destroyed Marquette in 2003. Get 110% prepared or look like fools on Friday for Roy again.

Unknown said...

For a man that plans the way Buzz does there is no way he won't have his team ready. I'm proud of Marquette and what we are. So is Buzz, just listen to him talk about how his values are in line with the Jesuits, etc. Are you embarrassed that we have JUCO's? If they are motivated by where they came from, why take it from them? These guys wear the jersey proud and represent us well. I wouldn't take anybody over Jimmy Butler on or off the court.

Smoove said...

I saw Buzz easing up on the JUCO connection, for which I am glad. While I am more-than-proud of what this team has done, over-doing the JUCO talk could attach the JUCO label to the Marquette program, forevermore. I'm sure Buzz and his coaches would like to get into the living rooms of the next class of the McDonald's All-American, but either by recruitable players jumping to conclusions on their own, or competing coaches importuning with misdirections, MU could be wrongly tagged as JUCO heaven, but not a legitimate program for five-star prospects.

Unknown said...

Sorry Smoove: Buzz will take/pursue the players that fit the program the best. Whether JUCO or High Schoolers. The JUCO connection didn't diswade Blue, Maymon, Otule, Cadougan, Gardner, Smith, Williams and the three 2011 recruits. The Stereotype is coming from people like you. Pitiful.