Buzz Williams is an eccentric, eclectic, energized and entertaining basketball coach.

He also is an accomplished basketball coach, and he leaves the Virginia Tech program in much better shape than when he arrived.

Fans of Virginia Tech basketball team might be disappointed with Williams' departure for Texas A&M, but they shouldn't be angry. Williams gave them three straight NCAA tournament appearances. He gave them victories over Duke. He gave them a national ranking and national respect.

Before Williams came to Virginia Tech from Marquette, basketball on the Blacksburg campus was an afterthought. The goal was to be on the same basketball level as Clemson.

Not that there's anything wrong with Clemson, but it is a middle of the pack ACC team most years, can sink a bit lower on occasions and might rise to the upper echelon of the league every now and then.

The message was: win the games you should and try not to lose so many that we're embarrassed.

That's not a great message for an ACC program.

When Whit Babcock became the athletic director, it was immediately apparent that mediocre was not what he had in mind for any of the programs, especially for the two with the highest paid coaches and biggest revenue streams, football and basketball.

That's were Williams came in.

And he came in with a roar. In one of his first meetings with his new players, he essentially told several they weren't good enough or tough enough and needed to leave.

They left.

Then, he set about rebuilding the program. He talked about coaching hard, which is code for yelling at players when they make a mistake and continuing to yell at them until they do things right, or at least as the coaches want them to be done.

He set out to accomplish the most essential part of building a successful program: bringing good players to Virginia Tech.

He tried to teach players more than basketball. He held practices at 4:17 a.m. so they would learn to be on time, no matter how "on time" was defined.

He taught them to be responsible with their cost-of-attendance money. He wanted them to graduate and have successful careers and lives.

He drove and cajoled until he had things just about right, then, this year, he backed off. He had a veteran team, and he let them lead and set the tone for the program. 

This was Williams' most successful season at Virginia Tech, and it occurred under the most unlikely circumstances.

In late October, the team lost possibly its best all-around player, Chris Clarke, to an indefinite suspension for the violation of an as yet-to-be-named team, athletic department or school policy.

A freshman who was expected to be a contributor, Landers Nolly II, encountered eligibility problems with the NCAA, wasn't permitted to play until the issues were resolved and eventually took a redshirt year.

Then came the unkindest injury of all, the foot or ankle injury to senior point guard Justin Robinson, undoubtedly the team's most important player.

Collapse seemed imminent.

Instead, Williams, his staff and his players survived and kept winning.

The Hokies were a missed layup off a perfectly devised and executed inbounds play with 1.1 seconds left from forcing overtime against Duke in the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament this year.

The season's success was a remarkable accomplishment.

Williams is something of a basketball savant. He sometimes answers seemingly simple questions -- "How did that guy get open in the corner for that shot that beat you? -- in such detail, expounding on movements and defensive rotations, that it is as if he's conducting a coaching clinic.

At times he was demanding of the media that covered the team, asking for clarification of questions. At other times, he was dismissive, prefacing his answers with, "I know you haven't seen many of our games ..." He was one of the few coaches who all but called roll in his postgame press conferences.

Williams' Jedi mind games often were not appreciated. But his dismissive attitude might have been a way of challenging those who came with questions.

And if a reporter accepted the challenge and gave as good as he got, Williams took note and seemed to enjoy the back and forth. He would even thank you for covering a Virginia Tech game if you showed up in an unexpected place, Penn State for instance.

Williams is from Texas. He went to college at Texas A&M-Kingsville. He was an assistant on the Texas A&M staff.

Maybe eccentric, eclectic, energized, entertaining and unique coaches are better understood deep in the heart of the Lone Star state.

Whatever the case, life and basketball is about to change dramatically at Texas A&M.

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