CAROLINA CRISIS: THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU By Michael...
MILWAUKEE (BASN) — If any of the players on the Marquette men’s team watched college basketball on ESPN recently, they couldn’t help but notice the message crawl at the bottom of the screen.
There were four teams that were projected as being the last ones to receive NCAA tournament bids, and the Golden Eagles were one of them.
Everyone who’s associated with the program — from coaches to players to support staff — can’t help but wonder if Marquette will actually do enough to get the attention of the tournament committee.
Somehow, amnesia settled in amongst several players who were available to the media and their coach, Buzz Williams. They didn’t care about what the college basketball experts think of their chances of making the Big Dance, and sometimes they pretended to forget about it.
“I don’t really pay attention to (tournament talk),” senior guard David Cubillan said. “I try to stay focused and take one game at a time. I don’t know about that, so I don’t know what we have to do . . . We just have to win.”
“You want to go to a tournament.
I don’t really pay attention to what other people say. I just try to do what I can. All I can do is just play hard and help our team.”
As much as Cubillan tried, he couldn’t sidestep the question.
Neither could sophomore guard Darius Johnson-Odom. “We don’t know nothing about the tournament,” Johnson-Odom said. “I don’t know what our record is right now.”
He was reminded that it was 16-8 entering Thursday’s home game against No. 19 Pittsburgh on ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET). “We just take it one game at a time.” Johnson-Odom was asked what his teammates would do if announcers mentioned the tournament on the sports stations they watched.
“We usually change the station,” he said.
“We know really much nothing. We just want to focus on what we can do to get there and how successful we can be.”
Just when Johnson-Odom had the assembled media fooled for a moment, he let us in on a little secret, thus admitting — not truthfully — that he was paying attention.
“I do watch a couple of games,” he said. “I have a couple of friends that play for several different teams. That’s interesting for me to watch them play. Two friends play (Tuesday), Kentucky and Mississippi State. I got two friends that I’ll watch play.”
So if Johnson-Odom watched the games, then he saw the scroll at the bottom of the screen. However, l eave it up to Williams to keep things in perspective. “We have six games left in the Big East season,” he said.
“We’re assured of playing one in the conference tournament.
How many we have to win, I don’t know. I know winning changes a lot of things. It never changes what you have to do to win games.”
Marquette is preparing for the next game instead of predicting what will happen in the future. “I don’t believe in fairy tales,” Williams said. “My parents never read those to me when I was growing up. I don’t read them to my children, and I’m not a good dad when it comes to Santa Claus and the tooth fairy because it’s not reality.”
So right now, the Golden Eagles don’t believe the hype. They will find out in the end if the prognosticators were either right or wrong about their chances of making the NCAA Tournament.