Williams looking for consistency
There was the Brian Williams who flashed through the paint, throwing down two-handed slams and smoothly moving back down the floor to knock down outlet passes.
Then the Tennessee center's alter ego showed up when Williams airballed three free throws and during stretches struggled to stay involved in plays at Bearden High School.
The rising junior played in fits and starts Wednesday night during his Knoxville News Sentinel team's 111-99 loss to UT teammate Wayne Chism's HT Group in the Pilot Rocky Top League. Williams is still searching for the confidence he's shown in small doses as he reaches the midpoint of his career with the Vols and his final season under the tutelage of Chism.
"Wayne is a great defender and going against him every day at practice and here, my points are going up," Williams said after scoring 22 against Chism. "Spurts ain't going to count. I got to do that the whole game. Confidence is half the game. If you get 50 percent of your confidence from your coaches and teammates, you're going to be real productive."
Williams struggled early Wednesday, scoring just three points in the first nine minutes, including two free throws that fell a foot short of the rim. He looked much stronger in the second half, once slamming home a Skylar McBee miss before running down court to intercept a wayward pass from Jon Primm. Another offensive board on the ensuing possession meant an easy bucket and foul for the 6-foot-10, 267-pound center.
"As soon as a big man gets a dunk or a pass from the guards, he's going to help them all game," Williams said. "He's going to help on defense, help on offense. As soon as you get the big man the ball, everyone picks up ... You just want to make another play after that."
Williams said he's hoping to see another uptick in points and rebounds this season at UT. He finished third on the team with 5.6 boards per game after seeing his minutes grow to 19 per game late last year. Chism, who finished with 25 points Wednesday, said bringing Williams along is a must for the Vols.
"He'll help a lot," Chism said. "I mean his size is going to take a lot of space on the inside which we'll love because teams will be trying to pack in."
Step No. 1 on the road to a more confident Williams will be making those nagging free throws. The center was just 3 of 12 Wednesday. After one airball, Chism stepped off the blocks and held the ball in front of Williams before offering some advice.
"Wayne just was like, 'Act like it's practice,'" Williams said. "I don't miss them in practice. I mean I get nervous sometimes around fans when everybody's looking at me but that ain't no excuse to miss free throws. Wayne just patted my head said, 'Take your time, bend your knees and you'll make some.'"
Christopher James is a sports writer for The Daily Times in Maryville, at www.thedailytimes.com