Bloomington - Nick Williams is already giving a lot in his first couple weeks of practice, but IU Coach Tom Crean wants a little more.
In a season that figures to be filled with uncertainty, one thing the first year Hoosier coach knows is the 6'4", 210-pound Williams is going to play as much just about as much as his body will allow. In the first three weeks of practice the Mobile, Ala., has shown off not only his versatility, but also an approach to the game that Crean thinks IU fans will love.
"He's emerging as a very consistent, vocal, energetic guy," Crean said. "He has a very high motor and he may not practice well every single day, but he brings great energy every day. I'm really glad we have him. I think our fans are really going to enjoy watching him. He gives his all every day."
Those are attributes that Crean appreciates, as is the problems that he thinks Williams can present when he plays the ‘4' spot for the undersized Hoosiers. But for Crean's vision to come to fruition, he also knows he's going to need something else from the reigning Alabama High School Player of the Year.
"He has to rebound better for us to compete," said Crean. "When you see him in scrimmages he gets open, I think he's going to create some havoc at the four spot, but at the same time he's going to have to be able to defend that spot, and he's going to have to be able to defend that spot."
Williams is fully briefed on Crean's expectations. He said Crean preaches every day about the three Ts that are required to be a good rebounder – toughness, tenacity and technique – and he's making every effort to work on all three components on a daily basis.
"You have to be tough, tough as nails to bang with the bigger guys," Williams said. "We'll be playing against some 6'10", 7-footers, and it's going to be a team effort to rebound, not just one person."
Williams does figure to get some help from the likes of Tom Pritchard, Kyle Taber (who is scheduled to return to practice sometime next week) and Malik Story, among others. But for the Hoosiers to have a chance to hold its own against bigger teams on the glass, Williams is going to need to be a consistent presence on the glass.
Rebounding isn't foreign to Williams, who played on the frontcourt in high school up until his senior season, when he moved to the backcourt in an effort to prepare him for the collegiate level. But Williams knows it will be a different caliber of big man that he'll be battling with this season.
"I had to (rebound) in high school, but it was against smaller players," Williams said. "Now I have to get a lot tougher and get in there and bang with the big guys."
Rebounding is one of the many things that will be expecting from Williams, who originally signed with Crean when he was still at Marquette. But Crean clearly has confidence in Williams, a player who he originally saw being a part of a trio of perimeter players who would replace current Marquette stars Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews in the backcourt.
"There's no question that when we signed him and Tyshaun (Taylor), they were the future of our team," Crean said, who also had a commitment from '09 wing Erik Williams at the time to round out his future backcourt. "So we felt we had replaced the cornerstones of our backcourt at Marquette moving forward, and he was one of them."
Crean said he fully expected Williams to be an immediate contributor at Marquette, even though their top three guards are back this season. But now that he's at Indiana, he'll be expecting that…and even more.
"There's no question he would have played for them this year," Crean said. "But not even close to as much as he'll play for us right now."
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