Bigger AND quicker

Usually, an increase in weight is accompanied by a decrease in quickness. But not always.

Take Tennessee basketball player Brian Williams, for instance. Despite adding five pounds to last season's playing weight of 270, the 6-10 sophomore still has managed to add a step of quickness.

"I definitely have more speed and agility," he said during a break in Monday night's Rocky Top summer league action. "I've been working on it every day at 7 in the morning. We've only been working out for two weeks, so I've still got a month and a half to go, but I think I'm going to do real good."

Williams weighed 367 pounds three years ago but shed 100 pounds through a strict diet and workout regimen. He was reasonably nimble as a Vol freshman last winter but is still working to get leaner and quicker.

"I'm still not in the tip-top shape I want to be," he said, "but we just started working out with our strength and conditioning coach. I've actually put on weight but it's muscle weight. I'm at 275 right now, so I'm feeling real good."

Williams' improved athleticism makes him a better fit on a Tennessee squad that will boast explosive quickness at virtually every position in 2008-09. The Vols have significantly upgraded their athleticism by signing speedy freshmen Renaldo Woolridge, Scotty Hopson and Daniel West, along with juco transfer Bobby Maze.

All of this agility should greatly enhance Tennessee's uptempo style of play.

"Definitely, on both ends – offense and defense," Williams said. "We've got length, size, speed, agility, and we're really going to do it up this year."

Williams is teaming up with Hopson and Maze on the Ray's ESG entry in the Rocky Top League this summer. He believes both newcomers have bright futures in Knoxville.

"Tonight was the first time I'd seen Bobby play," Williams said, moments after finishing off a 140-115 blowout of Richardson Construction. "Scotty plays with us over at the gym a lot. Scotty's a real good shooter, a good scorer and all that. Bobby really knows how to control the game, and that's what we really need this year."

Hopson (who scored 25 points Monday) and Maze (who added 14) might be the two quickest players on Tennessee's roster. They'll put the fast in the Vol fast break, for sure.

"They're going to keep us running," Williams said with a laugh. "With Tyler (Smith) on one wing and Scotty on the other – along with Bobby and all of the others – I think we've got a real good shot at being better than last year."

Williams certainly appears better than last year. He spent Monday night battling John Mueller, a rugged 6-10 post player from Marquette. Williams acquitted himself well, outscoring Mueller 21 to 13 and doing a fine job on the backboards, as well.

"I played against him last year, and he's solid," Williams said of Mueller. "He boxes out and he plays big-man fundamentals, and I needed that to play against on defense."

Williams will be facing several guys of comparable size this summer. Vol teammates Wayne Chism (6-9, 245) and Philip Jurick (6-10, 240) also play in the Rocky Top League, along with Mueller and 6-10 Jeremy Saffore of UT-Chattanooga.

"Just about every team has a big man," Williams noted. "There's some solid big men in this league, and I want to compete with all of them."

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