Williams’ work ethic provides big defense for Rattlers

Desmond Williams has been giving the Rattlers the inside presence they need with scoring and block shots. Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

Desmond Williams has been giving the Rattlers the inside presence they need with scoring and block shots.
Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

Desmond Williams

Desmond Williams

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

During his sophomore season of playing basketball at Alabama Southern Community College, Desmond Williams’ coaches would always remind him that he has the talent to play for a bigger program.

Honing his defensive skills was foremost on Williams’ list of things he worked on. He’s been showing the result of his hard work since coming to FAMU.

Saturday night was another example, despite the Rattlers’ 77-65 double-overtime loss to Norfolk State at the Lawson Center. Williams played 45 minutes, delivering 20 points.

But what was most impressive was his three blocks and seven defensive rebounds. He’s been putting up those kinds of numbers regularly for the Rattlers and on top of that he is leading the team in scoring with a 15.6 per game average.

It’s a habit he brought from his junior college days.

“My (juco) coaches prepared me,” Williams said. “They reminded me that I’m not playing as a juco player; I’m playing like a Division I player. They put it in my mind to go hard every game. Once I got that mindset, I go harder than hard.”

That work ethic has Williams perched among the top defensive players in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. FAMU stands fifth in block shots in the league – thanks to Williams averaging at least 1.5 per game. He’s also ranked ninth in defensive rebounds in the league and has a better-than-average chance of winning the defensive player of the year award when it’s all said and done.

Right now his focus is helping the Rattlers finish strong in their remaining four conference games, which would put them in position to gain a top-five seed in the MEAC tournament.

“I don’t pay attention to stats,” he said. “I try to do my job and try to help my team get the best chance to come out with a win.”

Indeed he tried against the Spartans, with a lot of help from teammate Marcus Barham. It was a three-point by Barham, who finished with 15 points, that sent the game into the first overtime and cap a run that overcame a 13-point deficit.

The game-tying shot was redemption for Barham, who six seconds earlier had missed two attempts from the line. Norfolk State had 6.2 seconds to avoid the overtime, but the Rattlers’ defensive press shuttered one last attempt before the buzzer.

Elijah Mays, who nailed back-to-back treys during the rally in regulation, scored a jumper with 59.9 seconds. He drew a foul on the play, but couldn’t make the free-throw shot leaving it tied at 61-61.
NSU answered. But Williams wasn’t done, hitting a jumper to force the second tie at 63 with less than 10 seconds left.

Then, the Rattlers went cold in the second five-minute period and managed just two points.
“We fought them,” said coach Byron Samuels. “We had our chances. It was a tough shooting night for use but I thought our defense was good enough.”

For that Samuels praised Williams. Barham called him a motivation for the team.

“He gives us what to do,” Barham said. “Everything he says on the defensive end, we hear.”