Read more: Five Marquette players on BYU's radar
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Marquette coach Buzz Williams and BYU coach Dave Rose have known each other for years, ever since Williams was an assistant at Colorado State and Rose was a Cougar assistant.
The two have forged a strong friendship. The tough thing is, they will face each other when BYU and Marquette meet Thursday in the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center.
"It's difficult when it's time to play (against each other)," Rose said. "I cheer for Buzz all year long. I've actually seen his team play quite a few times because I enjoy watching his team play. When it's time to play each other, it's a little different."
Rose's wife, Cheryl, and Williams' wife, Corey, have also become good friends.
"I have the utmost respect for who Dave is as a human being — the utmost," Williams said. "Our relationship obviously blossomed since then. You talk about his story — junior college head coach, assistant coach, Phi Slamma Jamma. Cancer survivor. Just who he is, his beliefs, his moral, I stand at attention for who he and Cheryl are."
Williams praised Rose for the way he coaches, too.
"I think he's got to be one of the top two or three most unheralded head coaches in the country. He's won 78 percent of his games, been the coach of the year in the league three years in a row in the Mountain West, a league that I'm familiar with. Been to the NCAA Tournament every single year, had coached the player of the year at BYU. Had that ever happened before?"
While Rose guided the Cougars to the Sweet 16 last season, Williams led the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16 as well.
DAVIES BACK IN THE NCAAS: A year ago, BYU forward Brandon Davies missed the postseason after violating the school's honor code.
He's back this season and he recorded a double-double in the Cougars' opening round victory over Iona with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Davies has fielded numerous questions about his return from the nation's media this week.
"It feels great just being on the team again and everything," Davies said. "I think I speak for all of us when we're kind of past all the issues of the off-the-court stuff, and we're all focused on one goal, and that's getting this next game."
Davies was eager to play in the NCAA Tournament after watching on the bench in street clothes during BYU's run to the Sweet 16 a year ago.
"He waited for such a long time and worked so hard to be in this situation, let's at least play like you play and make the plays you make, and I think he settled down from there," Rose said. "And I'm happy. I'm really happy for him. He's been through a lot, but he's been terrific through the whole thing."
MISSION-BOUND: Freshman Damarcus Harrison, who scored a career-high 12 points in BYU's win over Iona, said he is planning to serve a mission and is getting his paperwork ready.
It was a decision he said he wrestled with the past few months.
"Going through this season, going through the highs and lows, helped me realized that I should probably go on a mission," he said.
As for his performance Tuesday, he said, "It was great to play in the first one, and win the first one as well, especially where we were able to make history. It's crazy. I didn't know I was going to play at all. I was happy to get the opportunity and that I could help my team."
NOTES: BYU's all-time record in NCAA Tournament is now 15-29. … Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery are calling Thursday's game, the same CBS crew that called BYU's first two tournament wins a year ago in Denver. … Brock Zylstra started in place of freshman Anson Winder Tuesday and will likely start again today, Rose said. … Noah Hartsock is nine points away from surpassing Kresimir Cosic for No. 3 all-time in career NCAA Tournament points at BYU. Hartsock has 81 points in the tournament, Cosic scored 89. … Jimmer Fredette is the all-time leader with 184, followed by Danny Ainge with 107.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company