The 'Unspoken Value' of Experience

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By Chris Jenkins
Marquette Senior Writer

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Juan Anderson might not be one of Marquette's marquee players yet, but Buzz Williams already has him ticketed for a long career in basketball.

Calling the sophomore forward "smarter than me," Williams believes Anderson has a future in coaching.

After the No. 3-seeded Golden Eagles landed in Lexington to prepare for Thursday afternoon's NCAA tournament matchup with No. 14-seeded Davidson (2:10 p.m. CT, truTV), Williams relayed a recent conversation with Anderson to make a larger point about the value of experience in the tournament.

"I said Juan, you're playing in your fourth NCAA game as a sophomore," Williams said. "He goes, 'Yeah.'

"I said, here's what I want you to learn: How many kids did you grow up that you played AAU with, that you played in high school with, that have been to an NCAA Tournament? Not played four games, played a minimum of four games as a sophomore?

"He goes, 'Coach, I don't know if any of my guys have been to the NCAA Tournament.'

"I said, here is the lesson when you become a coach: When you talk to kids and coaches and families and they go, 'Winning is really important, you do not have to discern when they say that.' They're either telling you the truth or they're lying completely."

Student-athletes who truly want to win, Williams says, choose schools that win consistently over schools that might have flashier names. Williams sees those kinds of players in his own program -- and on Davidson's roster.

"Those kids at Davidson, number 12, number 15, those guys when Coach (Bob) McKillop said, 'Hey, do you want to come here? We just went to the Elite Eight, you want to come? (Is) winning important to you?,'" Williams said. "I think it's very valuable."

Williams believes that experience pays off in ways that can't always be measured.

"We're one of six schools that over the last eight years have been to the NCAA tournament," Williams said. "Not necessarily that we've won or that we've lost or that we've advanced, but to get there says a lot. And if you probably studied it, you could find that the teams that do have the most success are the ones that have the most experience because that unspoken value of being in the tournament and having gone through media practice and all of those things, I think they're all very healthy for your growth and your maturity as an individual, collectively as a team, maybe most importantly as a program."

Despite Marquette's back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances and 2012-13 Big East regular season co-championship, Williams is well aware that some observers think the Golden Eagles are ripe for an upset Thursday.

Here's guessing he'll use that as motivation.

"Well, according to all the pundits -- I noticed that they're not in the audience now -- nobody has picked us to win," Williams said. "So it may be the 3, 14 Cinderella story."

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