What is it that makes Buzz Williams such a great coach and the right guy for the Hokies? He coaches the right way, and recruits the right type of guys.
In his first big time coaching stint, Williams had a lot of success at Marquette going 139-69 in five seasons, making the NCAA tournament in every one. During the 2012-13, he led Marquette to the Elite 8.
However, it is not just the success that makes Williams such a great coach; it is his character and style of coaching. This character is perfectly reflected through his former players
Williams did not recruit the absolute best players when he was at Marquette; he recruited the guys who got overlooked and worked their butt off. They were the "no-name" guys who were playing in the back gyms at AAU Tournaments.
One of these guys is now very familiar to the basketball world: Jimmy Butler. After a great career at Marquette, Butler has enjoyed a breakout season with the Chicago Bulls and is now set to compete in his first NBA All-Star game.
— Buzz Williams (@TeamCoachBuzz) January 30, 2015
Butler was not highly recruited out of high school, and was ranked the #82 player in the state of Texas. He attended Tyler Junior College for his freshman season. After averaging 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in his freshman season, Butler gained interest from Division 1 teams including Marquette. Williams signed him in 2008, as the No. 127 junior college prospect.
Butler went on to have a very solid career at Marquette. He started his junior and senior seasons, and averaged 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 3 seasons.
Another guy who has risen to the top of NBA ranks is Wesley Matthews. Matthews was not ranked in the top 200 nationally as a high school senior, but went on to have a great career at Marquette. He averaged 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in four years with Marquette.
Buzz Williams describes the way these guys rose to the top: "Both of them graduated on time. Neither ever dropped a class. Neither ever had an off court issue in any way," Williams said.
Williams stresses that school and off-court responsibilities are the most important. Never did either one of these guys miss a meeting or a shoot around.
These guys also excelled in practice: "They ran to the right spots on every drill. They crashed the glass, grabbed boards and dove for every loose ball," Williams said.
Williams went undrafted in the 2009 NBA draft, but continued to work his way up. He is now a starter for the Portland Trail Blazers, and is making a big splash in the NBA.
This is exactly the type of players that Buzz Williams has on this current Virginia Tech team. Despite their record (10-14), this team has shown tenacity and fight in every game, competing with the top teams in the country.
One guy that truly exemplifies a "Buzz Williams" type of player is freshman Malik Mueller.
Mueller, a freshman from Ehingen, Germany, gets it done on and off the court. He has worked his way up the depth chart this season, and now is in the starting lineup.
— Malik Müller (@MM_U1L) December 4, 2014
Mueller led the Hokies Monday night to a 65-63 win over Georgia Tech scoring a team high 17 points including the winning 3-pointer with 16.3 seconds remaining.
His more impressive statistic, however, was the 3 charges he took against Georgia Tech. Buzz and his former players took to Twitter to congratulate Mueller for his toughness:
Mueller, at 6’3 has also been valiantly matching up against the best post players of the Hokies’ opponents, despite his smaller frame. This includes Georgia Tech’s 6’8 forward Charles Mitchell and Syracuse’s 6’9 forward Rakeem Christmas.
Mueller is just one example of the type of player Williams wants at Virginia Tech. Any Virginia Tech basketball supporter knows that this entire team has showed an incredible amount of intensity and fight despite being under matched in many of their games. And that has to be a testament to the coaching of Buzz Williams.
The Hokies will try and continue their momentum as they travel to Clemson on Saturday to kickoff a three-game road trip.