Coming out shooting

By Monty Phan

Arizona Daily Wildcat

You might say Corey Williams likes a challenge after all, if his play is any indication, that may well be the case.

During the Arizona men's basketball team's biggest game last season, Williams gave the performance of his career, scoring 14 points including four three-pointers and grabbing six rebounds in only 12 minutes of action against eventual national champion Arkansas. Granted, the Wildcats lost, but this was the Final Four, where the big performances were supposed to come from the Khalid Reeveses, the Grant Hills, and the Corliss Williamsons, not from a bench player whose career-high in minutes is 24 and who hadn't started a game all season.

But this was the Final Four, where little guys like Donald Williams and Scotty Thurman make big names for themselves. Not to say the 6-foot-7 junior forward is a little guy, it's just that looking at last year's roster, the name Corey Williams didn't really jump out at you. Not until the Final Four, that is.

"It was one of my best games of the year," Williams said.

"Personally, I was more pleased with the way I played against Kentucky and the way I played against Utah, because that was a different type of game. In the Arkansas game they were open shots, and anybody can shoot with nobody on them.

"For me, the biggest part was it proved to me that I could play in a situation like that and at that level, so it was good for me and it was good for the team. It's something to build on, it's nothing that's going to guarantee me anything this year but it's something to build on."

The downside to getting up for the big game, however, is getting up for the little games, too. As much as he had to work on the physical part of his game during the offseason, Williams found he had to concentrate on the mental part as well.

"The biggest thing I want to change is not really how I play, but just my consistency," Williams said. "I feel if I can be consistent day in and day out in practice, it's going to show up on the court. No more having a great game here, getting sick or getting injured, and then having another good game. I need to put up big games all throughout the season."

Senior guard Damon Stoudamire is confident that Williams' contributions will continue into this season, but he shares the same sentiment as his teammate.

"With Corey, it's just a matter of consistency," Stoudamire said. "As long as he keeps playing consistent, I think that he'll be all right."

Besides becoming a better player for himself, Williams realizes he must become a better player for his younger teammates as well, if for nothing else than to serve as a role model.

"I have played not a great deal, but I've played here before, so I think I can help some of the younger guys out with what they need to try to do," Williams said. "I understand everything that's going on now and it's just a matter of me doing the right things, leading on the floor and off the floor."

"I think when you get to be an upperclassman, you feel a lot more comfortable with what's being done," head coach Lute Olson said. "You know what to expect, you know what is expected of you. I think Corey's much more at ease with what's expected from him."

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