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The Relevance of Louisville’s Terrence Williams

by Andrew Force | December 4th, 2008

Terrence Williams is back in the red and black. For all his flaws (wild, misguided passes, embarrassing outside shooting), T-Will has great value for this particular Louisville team. With Earl Clark also back in the fold, UL is a favorite to reach the Final Four for the second time in five seasons.

Rick Pitino is an exceptional coach. No one refutes that. So the longer spent under his guidance the better a player should become. Williams is no exception.

His maturation as a basketball player serves as a blueprint for underclassmen on how to become more than an athlete. The Seattle product entered college as a leaper with some innate power and speed. Williams will leave an active, aggressive point forward with awareness of court balance and inspiring defensive commitment.

Pitino has led three different programs to the Final Four; gobs of seniors have led the way through the NCAA Tournament thicket. Take a gander at these names of senior leaders who achieved at least Elite 8 status on their way out the door.

  • Billy Donovan, Jacek Duda, Pop Lewis, David Kipfer (’87 Providence)
  • Richie Farmer, Sean Woods, Deron Feldhaus and John Pelphrey (’92 UK)
  • Jamal Mashburn, Travis Ford (’93 UK)
  • Andre Riddick (’95 UK)
  • Walter McCarty, Tony Delk, Mark Pope (’96 UK)
  • Derek Anderson, Anthony Epps, Jared Prickett (’97 UK)
  • Otis George, Ellis Myles, Larry O’Bannon (’05 ‘Ville)
  • Juan Palacios, David Padgett, Terrance Farley (’08 ‘Ville)

Championship level teams of the 21st century may feature fewer seniors than squads from the 50s and 60s, but the value of seniors’ mindsets cannot be overlooked.

In the just the last ten years, tons of seniors showed the necessary resolve. Despite being a talent-laden team, 2001 Duke would have certainly fallen short without Shane Battier and Chris Duhon’s leadership. When the Tar Heels glided through the 2005 bracket, their juniors stole the headlines. The winning recipe needed a sprinkling of seniors Jawad Williams and Jackie Manual all the same. Just last year, a trio of seniors guided the Jayhawks across the finish line: Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun, and Darnell Jackson.

Realizing tomorrow is no longer promised to you matters a great deal. The rapidly-approaching image of the road’s end changes a young man. The sense of immediacy–the sense of urgency–heightens the level of play and sharpens the focus. This drive filters down to the recently-initiated newcomers.

Williams’ role on the floor will help Louisville. His court vision and aggressiveness set a tempo Pitino prefers. Instinctively a defensive rebound by T-Will often turns into an immediate fast break. Perhaps more important will be the example Williams sets with his body language during the tough times.

Several Cardinals tend to pout when things aren’t going their way. Beyond the encouragement from Pitino, there has to be a prodding influence on the court.

The oldest of three siblings in a single-parent home, Williams has experience being in a leadership role. His jovial personality and huge smile enable him to lead without angering teammates in the process. At the same time, when Williams furrows his brow and narrows his gaze, the seriousness of the moment cannot be mistaken.

Even before this year, Williams believed in his talent. Often with the shot clock dwindling, for better or worse, T-Will willed his way to the basket or shot haphazardly. With slight refinements to his decision-making process, Williams should escort the Cardinals deep into the dance.

Williams and teammate Andre McGee are almost done. Last year Williams packed his room with an eye towards his future. Assistant coach Walter McCarty convinced him to return for his senior season.

This year some NCAA opponent will have to forcibly shove Williams from both the Big Dance and his final UL residence.

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