With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’re taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster this month. Today, we continue our look at Indiana’s roster with Troy Williams.
If the Hoosiers are to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament, a sophomore leap from Troy Williams could go a long way in making it a reality.
Coming into Tom Crean’s program last summer from Oak Hill Academy, Williams’ athleticism and love of the home run play were never in doubt. But as the 2013-2014 season went along, the Virginia product suffered from a prolonged case of freshman-itis. He tried to do too much and was often too fast with the ball in his hands (24.8 turnover percentage). While his 2-point field goal percentage led the team (56.9 percent) thanks to a nice ability to score at the rim, his free throw shooting (67.6 percent) and 3-point shooting (20.7 percent) suffered. Williams missed assignments on defense and lacked awareness at times on both sides of the ball.
The good news?
Crean has proven if a young, raw player puts in the time and commitment to his program, he’ll get better. And on the Canada trip, Williams indeed appears to be sporting an improved all-around game.
He stuffed the statsheet during the five-game tour (18.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 27.8 minutes per game) and revealed a left-hand injury that prevented him from using both hands during last season is a thing of the past. While Williams’ shot so far appears improved, his greatest chance at success on offense may be attacking off the dribble and scoring off the baseline. And an improved cast of shooters around him may give him more space to do so. Improved decision-making as he breaks down the defense should lead to a) less turnovers and b) a higher assist rate.
On the other side of the ball, Williams has the ability to wreak havoc with steals and deflections leading to scores for either himself or teammates, something Crean noted after the McGill game.
“I thought this was a good statistic for the guys to see – the two leading deflectors at halftime were also the two leading scorers,” Crean said. “The best facilitator of the game in the first half was Troy Williams; he was also the leading scorer and the leading deflector. The more they can learn that those things really, really do matter and they really do carry over – it doesn’t matter where you’re playing, when you’re playing or who you’re playing – it just matters that you do those things.”
Bottom Line: With Yogi Ferrell back in the fold and new additions James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson capable of knocking down shots, Williams won’t need to lead the Hoosiers in scoring each night. As frontcourt questions linger, it’s also possible he could see a fair amount of time at the four, where he’ll need to help on the boards and possibly guard bigger opponents. Expect Williams to be improved, though not without room for growth as he continues to learn the college game.
Quotable: “We won’t be the biggest, but we will be one of the quickest. We’ve got multiple threats. We’ve got shooters, we’ve got drivers. We’ve got people who can shoot or drive … I definitely have the ball more and I’m making more plays for people … I feel like it’s definitely 50-50 [between slashing and shooting], plus a little bit of having the ball in my hands coming down the court.” — Williams after Monday’s practice.