Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Buzz on Williams

In today’s culture of big money athletics, it’s about wins and losses. And the new Hokie men’s basketball coach, Buzz Williams, brings winning credentials to the Virginia Tech program. He took over the Marquette basketball program, which was already playing in one of the toughest conferences in basketball at a high level, and took them to even greater heights. The Golden Eagles, during Williams’ tenure, played in the tournament every year and more importantly, with the exception of one season, they played as far or further into the Big Dance every year, culminating in making the Elite Eight last season. 

The question that comes to my mind is “How?”. As I’ve progressed in my own career, the principles of leadership have become more relevant and more important to me and so I have studied them. It’s not like James Johnson wanted to fail. He had been in coaching for 19 years and though this was his first job as a head coach, he’s a good recruiter and understands basketball fundamentals. But his time leading the VT basketball program was absolutely awful. So I wanted to learn about why Buzz Williams has had the type of success that he’s had, see what he has in common with other great leaders and what he may do differently. To that end I’ve spent the past week watching every Buzz Williams clip I could find and reading stories about him all the way back to his first head coaching gig at New Orleans in 2006. And for those fans expecting the Hokies to come out and start competing for NCAA tournament berths right away, I’ve got a surprise for you - that isn’t likely but even if it happens, it’s not what Buzz Williams is working on with the 2014-15 Hokie basketball team right now I can assure of you that.