Williams Taking on Leadership Role

In the absence of Trevor Mbakwe and Ralph Sampson III, the Gophers have needed a spark from another player on the team. Veteran Rodney Williams has found himself as the most experienced player for the Maroon and Gold and has taken the leadership responsibility on the court.

With star power forward Trevor Mbakwe out for the season, junior Rodney Williams has had to step in and fill the void at the four-position.

"I'm feeling really comfortable at the four-position," he said. "I feel like I got a lot of mismatches because I can use my speed to get around the bigger guys."

Head coach Tubby Smith has seen the positive change in Williams since the position switch.

"Moving him back to that four-spot where he can use his athleticism and his quickness has been good for him," Smith said. "He's really doing an outstanding job of rebounding the ball. He's been very steady."

Williams showed off this versatility with a stat-line that filled up the box score on Saturday as the Gophers beat USC, 55-40. Williams had 12 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three blocks, and three assists.

Along with his solid all-around play, Williams electrified the crowd when he stole the ball in the first half and pulled a 360-dunk on the fast-break.

"I just wanted to do something to get the crowd in the game," he said. "We were up at the time, but I didn't think the crowd was into it. I felt like that gave us a little boost."

Although the dunk was impressive, Smith was more pleased with Williams' leadership during the game.

"He's a very steadying factor," said Smith. "He's one of the veteran players on the floor. In fact, he's got the most minutes as far as having played here at the University under our system and you can see he is very settling. He's accepted that role as a leader, and he's doing it leading my example."


Gopher Illustrated Top Stories