By Roman Veytsman
Jacob Konst/Arizona Daily Wildcat
John Salley predicted the Wildcats will win a national championship this year during McKale Madness. Salley won four NBA championship rings with three different teams over his career and now is on 'The Best Damn Sports Show Period.'
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 17, 2005
Adams-Williams matchup steals show
McKale Madness was a fun and enjoyable event for Arizona men's basketball fans and players alike, so one could expect the 20-minute scrimmage that ended the night to be fun and relaxed as well.
Apparently the guys on the team didn't get the memo.
Once the competitive juices began flowing, the game turned into what looked for all the world like a fierce midseason battle, and no two players seemed to push harder than senior forward Hassan Adams and freshman forward Marcus Williams.
Williams, a 6-foot-7 wing from Seattle, faced many good athletes while playing in high school, but no one of quite the caliber and athleticism of the 6-foot-4 Adams.
As Adams went to work, Williams, with a fire in his eyes, glared right back at him and took the challenge of stopping the preseason All-America candidate.
"Hassan, to me, is the best player in the country, so I like to go at him, see where I'm at," Williams said.
Williams poured in a game-high 18 points to keep the team's underclassmen in the game, but ultimately succumbed to the upperclassmen 52-45.
Williams found his touch from the perimeter, knocking down a 3-pointer to give the underclassmen a 28-25 lead.
Every time Williams scored though, Adams responded.
Adams scored 10 points, hitting two 3-pointers and, in typical fashion, threw down a crowd-pleasing dunk.
"I played my game and had fun out there," Adams said. "It's about getting my team involved. That's first and foremost, making them feel comfortable out there and playing for me."
After Williams would score, Adams, who said he worked hard over the summer on his ball-handling skills, would dribble down the floor and take it right back at Williams. Williams, crouched in a defensive stance, held his own and didn't give up any ground.
"One slip-up and you get embarrassed, so I have to take it serious," Williams said.
Players from both teams said they noticed the competition between the mentor and the apprentice.
"That was good to see," said junior point guard Mustafa Shakur. "That's what it's about, the young guy going at the older guy, and the older guy letting him know it's not going to be easy."
Arizona head coach Lute Olson said he was similarly impressed.
"I think people can see why we're excited about Marcus Williams's ability," Olson said.
"He shoots the ball well, he takes the ball to the basket, so he's going to be awfully good."
Williams has shown the quickness to get by his defender and the strength to finish at the basket.
His perimeter shot, however, may be his best attribute, and once he was able to get comfortable shooting the ball, he became comfortable in other areas of play as well.
"Marcus is a good player. He has good size on him, he's long, he's athletic and he can score," said Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner. "He can shoot the ball, so he's a weapon."
Still, to get playing time during the year, Williams said he knows he has to concentrate on every aspect of his game.
"I just come in and every day work hard on defense and rebounding," he said. "That's what's going to get me on the court."
Williams said he also believes that playing against Adams in practice will help him tremendously because he is willing to soak up all the information Adams has to offer.
"He's a really good friend of mine, so I really enjoy playing against him," Williams said. "If I can go up against him, or even somewhat compete against him, I feel like I can go up against anyone in the country. (Adams) gives myself someone to compare to."
Adams, known for his competitive zeal, said he understands Williams's position but refuses to go easy on the freshman.
"That's how it's going to be," Adams said. "I'm going to go ahead and have him go at me. That's how it's supposed to be. If he wants to get better, he has to come at me."
"There's going to be some great competition in practice situations, and that's going to make everybody better," Olson said.
Overall, the experience was almost overwhelming for Williams.
"It was something that I'll never forget," he said. "Down the line, when I have kids, I'll be able to tell them about my first experience playing college basketball."