Redshirt-junior guard Kam Williams has stepped up this year on the basketball court. After an injury to junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, Williams was forced into the starting lineup following the majority of his minutes as an offensively-focused sixth-man off of the bench.
However, after Ohio State’s 74-72 loss to Northwestern at home Sunday afternoon, Williams seems to be taking more of a leadership role not only on the court, but in the locker room as well.
After the two-point loss, Williams challenged his teammates to refocus their mindsets going into each game.
“Just to reiterate what he said, everyone’s got to look themselves in the mirror because our biggest issue is just toughness and making sure that we are prepared to play,” freshman center Micah Potter said. “We didn’t come ready to play and, if you don’t come ready to play, you aren’t going to win the game no matter who it’s against.”
OSU struggled with seemingly fixable aspects of the game that have hindered the team’s performance all season. OSU had 13 turnovers in the loss with Northwestern scoring 17 points off of those turnovers and had a lack of success with free throws, shooting only 54.5 percent from the line.
After struggling as a whole, Williams felt as though he needed to be more of a vocal leader to his teammates.
“I just felt that something needed to be said after a loss like that,” Williams said.
“We didn’t play well at all. I just feel like someone beyond the coaches had to step up and say something. If that’s the role that I am going to have to take going forward, then I am going to take it because ain’t nobody else going to.”
Potter was very appreciative of Williams and his message.
“I was like, ‘Thank you,’” Potter said. “When Kam [Williams] stepped up and said something, at least it shows his mindset that it’s up to us. The coaches can only do so much and it’s up to us to accept that challenge of what the coaches put in front of us. But, until that happens, until the entire team focuses on what the coaches want and what the coaches’ plan is and accept that that is what’s going to make us successful, we will have a hard time.”
OSU coach Thad Matta feels as though this is a perfect time for Williams to become more of a leader on and off the court.
“Everybody can lead when things are good,” Matta said.
“Kam [Williams] played through some injuries and he’s still banged up, but he’s been in this program awhile now. I think he knows that we have to play better and we can play better.”
According to Matta, it is not about a lack of passion for the team or for the game, it’s about being a part of something bigger than one individual player.
“Guys care, absolutely, but we have to care about the right things at the right time,” Matta said. “Those are pivotal moments in a game where you have to think, you have to do what your team needs you to do at that particular moment. It may not be the most glamorous thing. It may not make SportsCenter, it may not make the news highlights, but it’s things that the team knows and we know that were important in winning.”
Going forward, Williams thinks his teammates should unite on the common goal every team should have going into any game.
“I think the thoughts that are going into some of the games aren’t positive thoughts,” Williams said. “We need everybody, going into a basketball game, to have the same, positive, common goal to win the game. Not stats, not how many rebounds I can get or how many points I can get. The ultimate thing we are trying to achieve is to win basketball games. That’s why it’s a team game.”