Facing constant double-teams, UTEP wants Williams involved inside-out


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — There is no denying UTEP senior big man Bryson Williams is one of the top players in Conference USA, however, there is also no denying his production is down from a season ago.

Williams averaged 17.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point. This season, the Fresno, California, native is averaging 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He is shooting 46 percent from the field and just 28 percent from beyond the arc.

There are a lot of contributing factors to Williams’ dip in production. For one, UTEP has become more of a guard oriented team with the addition of Jamal Bieniemy and the emergence of Souley Boum. They have also seen an uptick in able scorers. Last season, the Miners had five players averaging at least 5.0 points per game. In 2020-21, seven players are scoring at least 5.1 points per game. Williams is also facing constant double-teams, which has forced him to give up the basketball in the post.

“He’s a guy that is game planned for every game. Teams game plan for him and try to double him all the time — he sees it a lot and has to deal with it,” said UTEP head coach Rodney Terry. “Nevertheless, you’re getting the ball inside and then you get the ball back outside — sometimes there’s situations to repost and put it back in there, but teams are putting a high emphasis on trying to take him out.”

In UTEP’s first Conference USA (C-USA) sweep of the season over FIU last weekend, Williams scored just four points in Friday night’s 75-59 win over the Panthers and 11 points in their 77-68 win on Saturday. While his scoring has been slowed, the six-foot-eight big man is finding other ways to impact a basketball game.

“I’m staying aggressive and trying to get my teammates more involved,” said Williams. “I’m becoming a better passer out of the post and a better passer overall. I’m just trying to do other things to help us win games.”

Terry and his coaching staff is also finding new ways for their star player to score the basketball — inside-out.

“I always tell him it’s not always about his touches — ‘what can you go and create for yourself outside of a touch?’ Go get an offensive rebound and an easy stick-back. Run the floor and get an easy basket in transition,” said Terry. ” We trust him shooting from the perimeter, ‘hey, if you’re open, shoot the ball from the perimeter.’ There are a lot of different ways he can affect a basketball game.”

If the Miners can get Williams going in the final four games of the regular season heading into the Conference USA Tournament, they will be a tough out for one of the top four seeds. UTEP (10-10, 6-8 C-USA) will hit the road this week for a back-to-back series against FAU (8-9, 3-5 C-USA).

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