Louisville, Ky. • It didn't take long for Marquette coach Buzz Williams to express how much he respects and admires BYU coach Dave Rose on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the friends learned they would face off in Thursday's NCAA Tournament Round of 64 game at KFC Yum! Center.
"I have the utmost respect for who Dave is as a human being, the utmost. …" Williams said when he was asked if he had sent a text message to Rose after the Cougars' 78-72 win over Iona. "I mean, I just I stand at attention for who he is as a person and as a professional."
The 26-8 Cougars and 25-7 Golden Eagles meet for the fifth time but first time since 1967 Thursday at 12:45 p.m.
The coaches are familiar with each other because Williams spent four years (2000-04) as an assistant at Colorado State when Rose was an assistant at BYU.
"We just kind of struck up a friendship and have been involved in quite a few things off the floor for quite a few seasons. …" Rose said. "But it is difficult when it is time to play. I cheer for Buzz all year long. … When it is time to play each other, it is a little different."
The coaches' wives, Cheryl Rose and Corey Williams, are also close.
"Man, you talk about his story," said Williams. "[Dixie] junior college head coach, assistant coach [at BYU, member of] Phi Slamma Jamma, cancer survivor. Just who he is, his beliefs, his morals, I stand at attention in respect for who he and Cheryl are."
Hartsock still healing
After playing 38 minutes and scoring 23 points against Iona, BYU forward Noah Hartsock was sore on Wednesday, but said he will be ready to play Thursday against Marquette.
"The knee is feeling fine, it is the ankle that is hurting still," Hartsock said.
The senior said that some of the ankle pain won't go away until he has surgery when the season is over to remove three bone spurs in his left ankle.
BYU's Hartsock earned All-District 9 First-Team honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches on Wednesday. Junior center Brandon Davies earned second-team accolades. … After Kentucky practiced and while BYU was waiting to practice, Wildcats coach John Calipari approached the Cougars and congratulated them on the come-from-behind win Tuesday. "You played your butt off the other night," he told Hartsock.