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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

With every NCAA tournament victory, Marquette's Buzz Williams becomes a hotter coaching commodity. (Photo: Maggie Casey/Marquette Athletics)

Sunday Scorecard: Coaches' corner


How do your brackets look? Don't want to talk about it? No problem. We'll dive right into the notes.

The buzz on Buzz: Forgetting the coaching and recruiting experts who were bringing "fire Buzz" signs to Marquette games down the stretch (bet they're singing a different tune this weekend...) for a second, but there is a good chance that the Buzz Williams era at Marquette is coming to an end.

This will have little to do with the gold sweater vest club's alleged and perceived displeasure with Williams' 79-49 record in three seasons at Marquette but more because there are others who seem to recognize Williams' talents as a collegiate head coach.

Should Marquette lose tonight against Syracuse, expect to hear the rumors get louder. His name has been attached to the openings at Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Arkansas. The Razorbacks are close to hiring Missouri's Mike Anderson and Tech, Sunday, reached a deal with Billy Gillispie, for whom Williams formerly worked as an assistant.

Down in Oklahoma, though, Williams is becoming the favorite candidate among fans, alumni and members of the media, some of whom have already pegged Williams as the Sooners' leading candidate.

More importantly, whom do the Golden Eagles turn to? Despite what some might think, Marquette is not a program with a profile high enough to pull an established coach away from another big-time job, meaning it's either a hot-shot assistant, a up-and-coming mid-major coach or a retread.

Would Marquette be willing to turn the program over to Brian Wardle, a former standout player at the school and currently the head coach at Green Bay? Wardle's team went 14-18 (8-10 Horizon League) in his first year but he was very respected as an assistant coach and is considered a pretty good recruiter. Still, turning a Big East program over to a 30-year-old seems unlikely.

If Williams does leave, it will be a big loss. He doesn't have the notoriety of other Big East coaches and hasn't inspired the same passion his predecessor did but ultimately, he's been getting the job done. Williams has won 20 games in each of his three seasons at Marquette and though his team went 9-9 this year, the Golden Eagles have never posted a losing record in the tough Big East.

He's known as a talented recruiter and yes, his stories can be a little hokey at times (counting the days he's been on the job), but he's genuine. He's a winner. Marquette fans, especially the small minority calling for his head, will be very sorry is he leaves.

Ryan shakes off the stigma: Meanwhile, out in Madison, Bo Ryan continues to prove his critics wrong. Year after year, his Badgers are picked to have a down year but no Ryan-coached Wisconsin team has ever finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten Conference.

Of course, the knock on Ryan has been a recent lack of success in the NCAA tournament and a perceived inability to recruit blue-chip athletes to play in his methodical but effective swing offense.

Ryan's Badgers are headed to the Sweet 16 next weekend and should they get past Butler, well ... it's not out of the realm of possibility that Wisconsin could be bound for it's first trip to the Final Four since 2000.

Is Jeter safe: While we're talking coaches, let's spend a few minutes to discuss the fate of Rob Jeter over at UWM. His six-season stint with the Panthers has been largely disappointing for a fan base that came to life under Ryan and Bruce Pearl.

Jeter is 101-89 at Milwaukee. He went to the NCAA tournament his first year as head coach and before winning the Horizon League title this year, his teams in between went 9-22, 14-16, 17-14 and 20-14. It has been a slow, steady and sometimes painful progression but progress, nonetheless.

Jeter, the Horizon League coach of the year, started with an almost-empty cupboard six years ago, but has finally reached the top of the standings. That's a selling point down the road -- provided he can keep the Panthers in the spotlight and get people to come down to the U.S. Cellular Arena.

Establishing UWM as a dominant mid-major power won't be easy, but Jeter is the right man for the job.

Good call: The ending of the Butler-Pittsburgh game Saturday was spectacular, especially because of the two fouls called in the final seconds. Shelvin Mack absolutely fouled Gilbert Brown on his three-point attempt and there was no doubt that Nasir Robinson foulded Matt Howard on the final play. The Twitterverse was filled with complaints that the officials should have let the guys play but a foul is a foul. The game was not decided by officials: it was decided by a number of plays throughout the game. It was decided by a missed free throw. It was decided by Jamie Dixon's decision to not send all of his players back to defend. It wasn't decided by the officials who did their job very well.

Larry King Lounge: The best part of the thrilling finish between Butler and Pitt? No Gus Johnson to overdo it ... Yes, the Brewers have been hampered by injuries this spring. Would you rather have them now or in September? ... Charles Barkley's shtick would be funnier if he actually knew what he was talking about ... Mascot games are fun for kids but kind of creepy when you're grown up ... How good would Morehead State's Kenneth Faried or Kansas State's Jacob Pullen look in a Bucks uniform? ... Former Milwaukee Washington standout and NBA class act Latrell Spreewell was at the Bucks game Sunday. He was sitting court side, so apparently he's found a way to feed his family.

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