Marquette's Williams fights sleepless nights

The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 5:54 AM

MILWAUKEE -- Buzz Williams isn't bragging when he says he doesn't sleep very much these days.

Sleep can be a rare and precious commodity for any coach whose team is playing in the NCAA tournament, and some coaches seem to consider their workaholic ways to be a badge of honor. But Williams isn't pulling all-nighters at Marquette to prove a point about his dedication.

He simply can't sleep.

Williams says he has been working with a doctor at the Mayo Clinic since last year and his ability to sleep had been improving - until now. Going into Friday night's matchup with North Carolina in the round of 16, Williams' restless ways have returned.

"I struggle with it, and I had some really bad problems with it last year, which is why I gained so much weight, looked so bloated," Williams said. "And we figured out some of the problems with it. So I'm much more aware of it, and I'm trying to handle it better. But over this last month, I'm not great with it. So we'll see."

On Monday evening, Williams said he hadn't slept at all since his team beat Syracuse on Sunday and didn't expect to sleep Monday night. And as the Golden Eagles prepared to leave for Newark, N.J., on Tuesday night, Williams said he took a 45-minute nap before practice in the afternoon - and that's about it.

"The doctor that I met at Mayo actually emailed me this morning," Williams said before the team left town. "She said, 'We're proud of you, and fired up - and I know you're not sleeping.' I think if that's what you do for a living, you probably get a feel for that. But I'll be all right. I'm fine."

Williams said he isn't trying to "be cool" or build himself up as a basketball version of ex-NFL coach Jon Gruden, who was famous for getting by on little sleep.

"I'm not saying that stuff to be Gruden-esque, and he's my favorite of all time," Williams said. "And I probably shouldn't have (mentioned it). I try not to reveal too much about me personally, and I realize that my personality is such that you kind of can put some pieces together."

Williams doesn't think anybody should pay any attention to his sleep problems with the Golden Eagles going into what could be considered their biggest game since their 2003 Final Four run.

"I don't want, because I struggle to sleep, (people to say) 'Oh, what a grinder,'" Williams said. "Yeah, I am, but that's not the deal. And so because I'm transparent, and because I'm accessible, yeah, it can be a story. I don't want it to become THE story."

Sleep issues aside, Williams' stock is rising in the coaching ranks after three straight trips to the tournament in the wake of Tom Crean's departure to Indiana. Williams is expected to draw interest from several schools looking to hire new coaches.

Williams said he won't address his future until the Golden Eagles' season is over, but reiterated how much he appreciates the fact that Marquette gave him a chance.

"There's a lot of gamesmanship that goes on in this - none of which I have participated in," Williams said. "And yeah, there's people trying to get to me. I'm not going to participate in any of that, because that is not right by our institution, that's not right by our players, that's not right by our coaches. But I will address it when the season is over."

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