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O’Neill: Derrick Williams gets the Jordan treatment from refs

Kevin O'Neill's team sent Derrick Williams to the foul line eight times in the teams' first meeting.
Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

It didn’t take long for Arizona Wildcats forward Derrick Williams to hear what USC coach Kevin O’Neill said after Tuesday’s practice.

Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times, at 8:31 p.m. Tucson time, posted a story on the newspaper’s website about O’Neill calling Williams “the most protected dude I’ve seen since Michael Jordan.”

About an hour later, Williams tweeted: “I don’t get Michael Jordan treatment… Just stop fouling me and we will be good.”

Mentioning Jordan and Williams in the same sentence was not a compliment, as O’Neill was suggesting that referees are calling too many fouls against players trying to guard Williams.

The sophomore has attempted 248 free throws, only 16 away from the school’s single-season record of 264 held by Khalid Reeves (1993-94). Williams is averaging 9.2 free throws per game — and he’s making 75.4 percent of them.

“If the guy walks across the court, it’s a foul,” O’Neill said of Williams.

Knowing O’Neill — the former Arizona interim head coach — he was probably trying to be funny and likely sending a message to any referees who might be listening. Not everyone gets his humor, of course.

Elsewhere in the story, he had nicer things to say about Williams. Check out the link to see what he said … although I suspect UA fans predisposed to dislike O’Neill will focus more on the Jordan comment.

(The Orange County Register also has an account of O’Neill’s comments and USC notes.)

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