By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Mar 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM Photography: David Bernacchi

"If you can look at the tape, you can see it."

Jae Crowder couldn't be any more succinct when discussing the difference between this version of the Marquette Golden Eagles and the prior model that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

In 2011, there was jubilation, smiles for days and some tears. They were an 11 seed, Cinderella.

This year?

Guard Darius Johnson-Odom said it all in a tweet after the second round: The team isn't satisfied.

"It's just a different mentality," Crowder added. "We've been here before and we're trying to win."

The third-seeded Golden Eagles play No. 7 Florida tonight in Phoenix and head in with a workman-like approach that missing last season. To them, the bar had been raised after North Carolina blew them out in this round a year ago.

"I think the response was different," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "Is it because of the expectations? Maybe internally. I also think that it's because of the experience from last year. They understand this is where we're at, can we better this year? I think that's just human nature of wanting to advance. Not that we didn't want to advance last year but I think that there was some portion of us that 'This is an unbelievable deal, we weren't even supposed to be in the tournament and here we are in the Sweet Sixteen.'"

That bar was defined in Williams' postgame speech to his team following their first round victory over a one-loss Murray State team.

Williams said he has received some negative feedback for that speech, but he can't help being who he is.

"I didn't know that that was going to become public, but it is what I said and that's what I believe," he said. "I probably shouldn't (be so emotional). It may be the reason a lot of guys don't do it, in hindsight. They're probably more mature and have more wisdom than I do. The critique of my postgame comments has become a world of its own. About 95-percent of what I've been emailed and called and written has been extremely positive. But the 5-percent that haven't, it's been astonishing to me.

"I can only be who I am, and who I am has nothing to do with my title."

It's a style that not only makes him a must-watch on the sidelines, but endears him to his players.

"The word I put on it 'spontaneous,'" forward Jamil Wilson said of his coach. "He might say some things that you'll be like 'What?' or a bunch of numbers and you're like 'Huh?' But that's just him. He's a good guy and there's a motive behind everything he does, even though if at the time you're like this isn't going anywhere."

Marquette heads to Phoenix with the hopes of being the first team since 2003 to reach the Elite Eight, but even if they do top Florida tonight, don't expect a massive celebration.

"We're not content with being one of the Sweet Sixteen teams," Johnson-Odom said. "We have a bunch of guys who want to do more than that."


Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.