I’ve always been a big fan of Buzz Williams.
He’s a guy that came from nowhere to become one of the nation’s most underrated coaches, but it hasn’t gone to his head. He’s as humble and hungry as ever, the kind of guy that hasn’t forgotten his roots despite the success that he’s had.
I’ve got my own Buzz Williams story. In the bowels of the Madison Square Garden after the Jimmy V Classic, I was introduced to him as he was getting changed and prepped to hop on the team bus to catch a flight back to Milwaukee. We didn’t chat for long, but it was long enough for him to get my name and learn my name. Two months later, when we made it up to Marquette for our stop on the #BIAHRoadTrip, I had a chance to catch up with Buzz after the game. He not only remembered my name, but he knew who I was, even if we had spoken in the shortest of interviews when he was almost certainly thinking about nothing other than getting back home.
With the number of people that shove microphones in his face on a daily basis and how fast-paced the life of a college basketball coach is, the fact that he remembers the name of some random blogger is rather incredible and unlikely.
There is more to this man than simply being a basketball coach, and while plenty of words have been written about his ascent to the top of the coaching ladder, no one has done it as well as Howie Magner from Inside Milwaukee:
He’s obsessed with organization, explaining his meticulous practice plans, reams of daily reading material and notes-to-self notebooks stretching back 18 years. He can show you month-by-month charts of phone calls he plans to make, with scores of names ranging from current basketball recruits to the first player he ever wooed, from Marquette administrators to everyday people, from church pastors to Charles Barkley.
At a December practice preparing for a tough road game at UW-Madison, Buzz begins, as always, with two distinct rituals. He calls everyone to together, and despite all the clapping, manages to squirt everyone’s hands with sanitizer. It’s cold and flu season, you know. Details, details. Then he says a prayer aloud. When he says “Amen,” it’s a cauldron of warrior screams. Time to work.
That article is probably going to take you 15-20 minutes to read, but it is well worth it to get a chance for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of one of the nice guys in our sport.