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In Sports

Marquette University head coach Buzz Williams believes the success of the this year is a return on an old investment. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

Investing well has led to tourney success for Marquette


Buzz Williams may not like to come across as savvy, or even brilliant, when it comes to his coaching techniques. He often says his players are smarter than himself, and his coaches. But every now and then the Marquette University head coach shows he knows a little about something.

The Rule of 7 – or the Rule of 72 in Williams' dictionary – for instance.

It's a mathematical rule used in determining the number of years it takes for an investment to double in value, and Williams applies it to his players. There was a reason why Junior Cadougan was on the floor long enough to take a shot against Washington in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

It's why Vander Blue played 30 minutes in three tournament games in 2011. There was a reason Derrick Wilson and Juan Anderson pulled off the warmups last March.

Because in the 2013 tournament, which finds the Golden Eagles in the Sweet 16 for the third straight year, all of those players are doubling Williams' investment in them.

"It's kind of like how you save money," Williams said. "If you're not consistent in saving money, at some point in time you're going to go broke. Saving money here, in our program, is continuing to reinvest in the people that are in the program."

To Williams, success in the NCAA Tournament (he is 7-4 heading into tonight's contest against Miami) isn't just about being able to scout and game plan for an opponent on a short turnaround. That's an important part of the process, but the fifth year head coach feels the most important element to deep tournament runs is the emphasis placed on your own.

"You can't give all your money to the opponent," Williams said. "You do have to pay your tithe, but you better make sure you that take care of your kids because as much as (the media) and our fans think it's about today, today was created because of what we did a year ago. Today was created by what we did two years ago. It should be the rule of 72 in investment – every seven years your money ought to double."

Cadougan will be playing in his 10th NCAA Tournament game. Blue and Davante Gardner will play in their ninth. Derrick Wilson, Jamil Wilson and Todd Mayo? Their sixth. Chris Otule will play in his sixth as well, but he's been with the team for six others. Juan Anderson will play in his fifth.

Conversely, the entire Miami Hurricanes starting five will be playing in their 15th collective game – all played this year.

Senior guard Trent Lockett has only played this season with the Golden Eagles, so this is just his third tournament game. But even in that short window, where he laid out the heaviest sum of his collegiate career six months ago during Williams' now-famous boot camp and individual workouts, he's seen how valuable that initial investment is – and how big it can pay off down the road.

"I definitely think you can say that," he said. "It's shown in the tournament that we've really worn down teams late in games and that's because of the work we were doing in October and November. It feels good to see it pay off in that way."

Looking at the roster as a whole – one where the Miami game represents the 63rd tournament game played by his team – Williams hopes the big ROI is the first Elite Eight appearance for the program since the magical Final Four run of 2003.

For the players, they believe it will be.

"I've had enough of Sweet 16 and now I want to get over the hump," Blue said. "That's why we haven't celebrated much about this. We're happy we won but we just got back to work, got back to doing what we do – keep grinding and we just gotta win now. We've been here far too many times not to get over the hump this time."


Talkbacks

Midwest | March 29, 2013 at 8:20 a.m. (report)

I re-read this today. Really good stuff. A different and more accurate take on the tired old "overachievers" storyline.

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