Buzz Williams

JT III is great, but Buzz Williams should be Big East Coach of the Year


John Thompson III has done a magnificent job with the Georgetown team he has this season. His Hoyas were picked to finish fifth in the conference to begin the year, overcame the loss of second-leading scorer Greg Whittington mid-season, and still pulled together to finish with a share of the Big East title. For that, he was awarded the conference’s Coach of the Year award Tuesday, the league announced.

Not to discredit what Thompson III has done, but there is someone that the Big East overlooked this year, a 40-year-old Texan who roams the sidelines in Wisconsin, Marquette coach Buzz Williams.

It was a close race, but chose Williams and thinks he deserved the award, if by only a hair, in 2012-13.

Consider what Williams and Marquette lost from last season to this one. Gone is the dynamic duo of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, who accounted for nearly 50 percent of the team’s offensive output last season. On the staff are three new assistants, Brad Autry, Isaac Chew, and Jerry Wainwright. The team’s leading returning scorer was big man Davante Gardner, who averaged 9.5 points in 19.1 minutes per game last season.

Williams himself had to serve a one game suspension and sit out the Big East opener as part of a self-imposed response to an NCAA violation.

Through all of that, the team picked to finish seventh in the Big East in the preseason snagged a share of the conference title with a buzzer-beating layup in overtime in the season finale, and now moves on in hopes of winning a Big East tournament title.

That was done without a true superstar, like one on the level of Georgetown’s Otto Porter, and based more on steady upward growth from players like Gardner, Junior Cadougan, and Jamil Wilson, as well as the willingness of Vander Blue to take on a leading role. Adding in Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett didn’t hurt, either.

We said it before. It was a close race for Big East Coach of the Year. Both ought to be in the conversation for National Coach of the Year. But if everything works out, perhaps we could settle it on the court if Thompson III and Williams face off in the conference championship game Saturday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Michigan State’s Tum Tum Nairn battling foot injury

Lourawls Nairn Jr.
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Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.

According to a report from Kyle Austin of, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.

The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.

If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.

Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A few tournaments are still going on

Justin Jenifer, Charles Jackson
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GAME OF THE DAY: George Washington vs. No. 24 Cincinnati, 1:30 p.m.

Two 6-0 teams clash at the Barclays Center in what could be an important game for NCAA tournament resumes of both teams. The Bearcats picked up their most legitimate win over Nebraska, but the Colonials pose as a more real threat after they beat Virginia at home earlier this season. Cincinnati hasn’t shot the ball well in recent wins, but they’re beating up opponents on the glass and the defense has been solid. George Washington is coming off of a win over Tennessee in which they held off the Volunteers in the second half. The Colonials have lost 20 of their last 23 against ranked opponents, but another win over a top team would look great for them going forward.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 4 Iowa State vs. Illinois, 6:00 p.m. (CBSSN)

This game is apart of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida as the Illini could desperately use a win after a 3-3 start. Illinois head coach John Groce and his team are feeling the pressure for a big win on a neutral site after falling to North Florida, Providence and Chattanooga earlier in the season. The No. 4 Cyclones easily dispatched Virginia Tech earlier in the event and have found a nice balance on offense with the emergence of senior big man Jameel McKay inside.


  • N0. 2 Maryland has struggled to put away teams early at times this season and they’ll try to change that behavior when they host Cleveland State.
  • Staying in the Big Ten, No. 16 Purdue hosts Lehigh. With a game at Pitt and against New Mexico looming, could this be a trap game for the Boilers?
  • Nebraska and Tennessee take the floor in consolation action at the Barclays Center. The Huskers need someone besides Shavon Shields and Andrew White to step up in the scoring column while Tennessee is getting huge numbers from senior guard Kevin Punter.
  • Two 4-0 teams will meet in Brooklyn as Louisville takes on Saint Louis (7:00 p.m., ESPN3). Neither team has faced a significant test this season and this is the Cardinals’ first game away from home.
  • An intriguing night game to keep an eye on is Belmont traveling to BYU (8:00 p.m.). The Bruins are as well-coached as any team in the country and forward Evan Bradds has been playing great ball to start the season. The Cougars don’t have a high scorer like they did in the past, but Kyle Collinsworth is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor and BYU has a lot of weapons around him.
  • UAB and Virginia Tech battle in one of the more intriguing consolation games of the Emerald Coast Classic. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses but have a shot to make things better on the trip with a solid win on Saturday.


  • Bryant at Georgetown, 11:00 a.m. (FS2)
  • Bucknell at Penn State , 12:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee-Martin vs. Mississippi State, 12:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
  • Ole Miss at Bradley, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Old Dominion at VCU, 3:00 p.m.
  • Hawaii at Texas Tech, 3:00 p.m.
  • Kent State at Pitt, 3:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • SIU-Edwardsville at Butler, 4:00 p.m.
  • Georgia at Seton Hall, 6:30 p.m.
  • Western Illinois at Creigton, 7:00 p.m.
  • Colorado State vs UTEP, 7:30 p.m.