A ‘Buzz’ in the air

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 4, 2011

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MILWAUKEE (BASN) — At Marquette, there’s a lack of understanding in their men’s basketball program between some of their recent players and the coaching staff.

Several players in the last three years went through the revolving doors, but does it stop there? Recently, freshman Reggie Smith left the Golden Eagles program before Christmas, and he didn’t return right away.

When Smith returned to campus, he brought another advisor, his stepfather, with him from Chicago, where he lives. So what did Smith’s stepfather and head coach Buzz Williams talk about?

Would you believe that the conversation was about Smith’s lack of playing time?

I wanted to know what the problem was with Smith. He’s a freshman. Give me a break. Was he homesick, or, was the environment in the program a little different than what he was told before signing on the dotted line?

Smith, through his stepfather, asked for his release from the program in Williams’ office. The coach said it was about a three minute conversation. It appears that Smith wants to transfer.

Before Smith signed his letter of intent to play for Marquette, his team of advisors should’ve studied the roster of returning players. The decision would’ve pointed Smith in another direction.

Last year, Jeronne Maymon left the program in the first semester because he wasn’t the focus of the offense. He’s now at Tennessee. At that time, that was a bigger shocker than Smith’s exit because Maymon is 6-foot-7 and around 245.

He could’ve been a small or power forward and really helped the Golden Eagles last season. Smith is listed at 5-feet-11 and a guard. There are plenty of guards on that team that are interchangeable.

Smith started five games for Marquette, but he didn’t play a whole bunch of minutes in some of the games against ranked teams in non-conference play and some garbage minutes against the cupcake teams.

In one aspect, I can understand his frustration as well as Maymon’s.

If you don’t follow Marquette basketball, it’s easy to say that something’s wrong with the coach. Based on recent examples of players coming and going, you would wonder why the roster changes.

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Last summer, the team announced that Maurice Acker was leaving the team to concentrate on his academics. They needed that spot for Brett Roseboro, a country boy from Quakertown, Pa.

Somehow, the 6-foot-11 freshman said the summer workouts were too rough for him. He left school before the fall semester.

One of the assistant coaches called Acker and asked if he was interested in coming back for his senior season, which Acker accepted.

Another roster spot was created again. Acker had a good season and got his use out of the program. The Golden Eagles also signed a player who was a raw talent at 7-feet-2 and the tallest in team history.

After hurting his knee, he was out for the season and transferred. Williams recruits the type of players who are tough like him. His coaching career included a stop at the junior college level, and that’s why he won’t hesitate to go after junior college players.

Junior college players, according to Williams, are hungry for a Division I scholarship and will do everything they can to get one. They appreciate the little things they have to work and sacrifice for to receive comfort and first-class treatment at the next level.

Plus there are no academic issues because their grades are in order.

The other factor behind the basketball operation at Marquette is how the players respond to hostile situations in practice, such as teammates yelling at each other or the coaches getting on them when a mistake is made.

It builds character, trust and bonding.

Being behind by five points with two minutes left will tell if the players believe they can find a way to win the game. That goes a long way, especially when some of their games last season went down to the wire.

If a high school player wants to play for Marquette in Williams’ system, they better go the other way if they can’t handle everything he might throw at you because he prepares young men for life after basketball.

And one more thingAll the egos are checked at the door.