Analysis: Williams with a strong effort

Troy Williams had one of his best games of the season Saturday against Grand Canyon. And the big keys were that he didn't force the action and he only committed one turnover in 21 minutes of playing time. Those are big steps forward for the sophomore from Hampton, Va.

Troy Williams played well Saturday against Grand Canyon.

He was aggressive early both in terms of taking the ball to the basket but also in making good, crisp passes to his teammates. He was active both on offensive and defensive rebounds. He was communicating on defense, too.

But there were two things about Williams’ game Saturday that really stood out to me after watching the sophomore play 40 games over the last two seasons.

One was the turnovers. While to be honest, Williams hasn’t turned it over at a high rate this season although he did have three miscues against Louisville earlier in the week, his total Saturday was zero. That’s zero turnovers in 21 minutes on the floor.

That’s the first game Williams has played this season without a turnover. Last year, in 32 games, Williams only had four games without a turnover.

So taking care of the basketball was a major step forward for sophomore from Hampton, Va.

The other thing, though, that I really liked about Williams’ game on Saturday was how he played under control.

If there is one area where I’ll admit I have been critical of Williams in the past it has been that it seems like his one and only objective every time he’s in the open floor or driving for a basket is to make the SportsCenter play. It seems like it has to be flashy, it has to be the play that is going to bring the house down and one that when you watch the highlight film in the short clips on the news after the game, you’re going to see Williams do something demonstrative.

Too many times I think he has forced things that weren’t there. And sometimes it has paid off and other times it has not. But it just seems like the ones that don’t work outweigh those that do.

Saturday against Grand Canyon was different.

Williams drove the lane a couple of times and instead of going up for an off balance shot attempt found a teammate in the corner or on the perimeter. It happened early in the game on a pass to James Blackmon Jr. for a 3-point attempt. Blackmon missed the shot so Williams didn’t get credited with the assist but it was a great pass after a superb fake to the basket.

And you would think that would be something that Williams would have going for him. Because everyone expects him to take the ball to the basket in that situation when he makes the extra pass instead teammates are wide open. It’s a lot like the quarterback who can best carry out the play action fake.

Perhaps, Williams’ decision-making strides were just a one game thing. The reality is we won’t know until he has put two or three of these kinds of games together. But it could be a sign of a young player maturing and realizing that when he plays like he did against Grand Canyon he is a much better individual and team player.

Williams has scored in double figures in every game this season but his 14 points on Saturday were his second highest scoring effort of the year.

Hopefully he’ll go back and look at the tape and see how beneficial the game he played Saturday can be moving forward.

If he does, Indiana will clearly be better for it.

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