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Wildcats could use more me-first play from Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams

A big man driving from the perimeter with his left hand? It's all part of what makes Derrick Williams so hard to defend.
Photo by Chris Morrison, US-PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats sophomore forward Derrick Williams says it’s not in his personality to be selfish. That’s nice. Now start being selfish.

If selfish means he can be more like the player he was Thursday night — 31 points, 12 rebounds and one kick-butt attitude — then that is selfish the Wildcats can live with.

“It was great to see him kind of make that next step,” coach Sean Miller said after the 73-71 win at McKale Center.

“His personality is so unassuming, but there was a time in the game tonight where I really felt like he said, ‘Hey, get on my back, I’m going to win this game.’ You shoot 22 free throws and 12 field goal attempts, you’re really going to work on offense.

“That was the biggest story of the game — his great individual performance willed us to a win.”

More, please.

If opponents are playing zone against Arizona because they are afraid to challenge Williams in man-to-man — that is what Miller suggests is happening — then his UA teammates have to be relentless in trying to get him the ball. And Williams needs to be relentless in asking for it.

Even if it makes him a big jerk.

Especially if it makes him a big jerk.

As TucsonCitizen.com’s Javier Morales points out, Arizona’s reliance on Williams is not at historic levels at the school. Hey, there’s still time to get it up there. Any possession in which he doesn’t touch the ball is a wasted possession.

Williams took 12 field goal attempts vs. Cal and was fouled so often that he shot a school-record 22 free throws. That’s the thing. Miller has talked, especially this week, about how clever Williams is as an offensive player, able to use both hands to dribble and score, inside and outside.

If he’s not stopping himself, how do you stop him?

Left, right, left, right … Williams just keeps marching on.

“I hate to use the term ambidextrous, because how many people really are,” Miller said.

“But I think if you watch him closely, he has a real gift of being able to shoot with both his right and left hand, dribble with both his right and left hand, and being able to pass with his left and right hand. …

“He’s got a huge, quick first step and he weighs 240 pounds. You put that all together … and you have a dynamic offensive player.”

But after the one-point loss at Oregon State on Sunday night, Miller had a talk with Williams on the bus ride to Portland. Sophomore forward Kevin Parrom had some words for Williams, too. The message was the same in both cases: Be more assertive. Be the dynamic player he can be.

Be more selfish.

“I’m not really a selfish-type person, but today I had to be a little selfish and put everybody on my shoulders and carry the team,” Williams said after the Cal game.

That’s what he needs to do, and it doesn’t mean he can’t be nice, too.

“With that said,” Williams added, “we hit big shots as well. Jamelle (Horne) hit two big threes. (Kyle) Fogg hit a big three as well. Without those shots, we don’t win.”

And without Williams playing like he did Thursday night, Arizona is going to win as much as it should.

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