Hoops: Mike Williams on Culture Change Under Steve Pikiell

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers junior guard Mike Williams spoke with Scarlet Report after a July basketball workout about buying in and the program change under new coach Steve Pikiell.

 Mike Williams committed himself to two seasons under coach Eddie Jordan's staff. Everything from a starting shooting guard to a massively-undersized power forward, Williams played whatever role possible as a freshman and sophomore.

Junior year will be different under new coach Steve Pikiell.

Williams brought the same commitment to a new workout regiment, and the jump shot comes next.

I feel like my body is more toned, more muscle, less fat,” Williams said. “I can feel that I'm stronger and faster. I think it shows. Last year I was a little sluggish. Now I'm able to bang bodies with people. [strength coach David] Vandyke knows what he's doing because These are the kind of workouts we needed from jump street, so you could say I've embraced the change. I'm just ready for the season to come. I feel confident.”

During three summer sessions, Williams worked with the new Rutgers coaching staff within the NCAA-mandated summer practice hours. He connected closest with assistant coach Brandin Knight.

I'm learning a lot from coach Knight more than anybody,” Williams said. “He's still around our age group. He's able to relate. He was one of the best college players ever at Pittsburgh, so he's great to learn from him. I've known him since high school. He's helping me change my game, slow things down. He's teaching me how to have a lot more fun too.”

Williams attended Pikiell's introductory press conference at the RAC, where he spoke in support of the change in an interview with Scarlet Report.

2014-15 29 11 643 22.2 184 6.3 66 206 .320 24 100 .240
2015-16 32 28 867 27.1 392 12.3 128 337 .380 50 158 .316
TOTAL 61 39 1510 24.8 576 9.4 194 543 .357 74 258 .287


2014-15 29 11 28 36 .778 20 45 65 2.24 60 2 34 20 15 21
2015-16 32 28 86 108 .796 32 80 112 3.50 71 2 36 49 14 33
TOTAL 61 39 114 144 .792 52 125 177 2.90 131 4 70 69 29 54

The buy-in process had to happen quickly, Williams said, and started after Pikiell first met with the team.

It was hard at first, especially when Van left because he recruited me,” Williams said. “But I embraced the challenge. Brandin Knight, coach Hobbs, all of them. They've been welcoming. They know a lot about winning. They know what to do on the college level, and I'm ready to get to work.

Coach [Pikiell] still sees some of our antics and weaknesses from last year. He's trying to get more out of us. He says that winning starts today and dancing starts today. He wants us to hold each other accountable and stop pointing figures.”

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