A stronger Williams playing both guard spots

Q&A: Junior says coaches stressed ball security as he plays the point more

dmclemore@thestate.comOctober 31, 2012 

USC's Brenton Williams.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com

Junior guard Brenton Williams, who scored 22 points and the game-winner in Tuesday's basketball exhibition, is stronger this season and getting a bigger shot at playing the point guard position.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Williams was 5-for-9 shooting against Kentucky Wesleyan, including 3-for-6 from three-point range. He also was 9-for-10 at the foul line, with three rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Originally from Kissimmee, Fla., the junior college transfer played in 23 games last season, averaging 6.1 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 14.0 minutes per game.

How has your first year away from Florida been?

I am enjoying my time here. I have another year here. I'm liking South Carolina. It's a lot different from Florida but I'm adjusting well.

Talk about having such a major transition so soon at South Carolina.

It was something that happened. We all had to adjust the same way to a whole new coaching staff and a whole new playing style. We adjusted pretty well. We're still adjusting but we're getting better as the season is getting closer.

When you first met Frank Martin, what was his message to the team?

He told us what he expected out of us. He told us what the coaching staff was going to teach us, and about the weights and how weightlifting was to all the coaches and to his players.

Are you lifting weights now more than ever?

Yes, the weightlifting is a lot different with this coaching staff. At first everybody was sore because they had never lifted like this before. Everybody has adjusted to it now. It has really helped us. It shows in practice. It's helped all of us on the team.

Talk about Martin and his staff's emphasis on defense.

They put a big emphasis on defense. That was one of the first things they said when they got here. We use defense to help us on the offensive end, to create turnovers and for us to get on a run.

What are your impressions of him on and off the court?

That he really loves what he does and he takes a lot of pride in what he teaches his players, not just things about basketball but off the court. He teaches us a lot. That was one of the first things everybody picked up from him. He's trying to help us be better as people and basketball players also.

What are your expectations for the team this season?

We're all motivated considering the type of season we had last year. That makes us even more anxious to get back on the court this season.

Are the practices under Martin pretty intense?

They're really intense. All the players they adjusted pretty well to how long the practices last, the intensity for a long period of time. The summer really helped us get in shape and being physically and mentally ready.

What did coaches ask you to work on specifically the last few months?

Take care of the ball. I'm playing the point guard position more probably than I did last year. I played it in spurts last season, but this year it seems like it will be more of a primary position. So, take care of the ball has been emphasized to me a lot. Since we started practice I've been playing the guard more than I ever did. I've been playing to two also.

What have you learned from the other point guard, Eric Smith?

Eric has played the point guard position longer than I have. He helps me out every now and then, about creating space off defenders and things like that to help me be a better point guard.

Talk about the team calling USC season-ticket holders recently. What were folks' reaction?

That was pretty interesting. I've never done that before. It was a good experience. Calling them and them being surprised that South Carolina basketball players were calling them and thanking them for their support. That was a really good thing for us to do. They told us they appreciated the phone calls and they were looking forward to us getting back on the court.

Are you interested to see how attendance is at the games this season?

It's not something we worry about. We have thought about it, what the attendance will be like since we have a new coaching staff. We focus on playing, but it will be interesting to see what the attendance will be like this year.

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