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Rutgers: Mike Williams Enjoying New Starting Role

When Bishop Daniels went down against Vanderbilt with an ankle injury, freshman Mike Williams got an opportunity to slide into the starting shooting guard position, and he has made the most of it.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Williams started off the season by coming off of the bench, stuck behind Bishop Daniels on the depth chart. But when Daniels went down in the 5th game of the season with an injury, it gave Williams the opportunity to prove himself as a starter. Now with Daniels healthy, Williams has remained as the starter for coach Eddie Jordan.

Chance to Start

Williams got his first collegiate start against one of the best teams in the country, Virginia. Things did not go well for Rutgers as they could only muster up 26 points in the entire game. Williams was 2nd on the team in that game, scoring 6 points. But more impressively, he only had 1 turnover against the Cavaliers' stifling defense.  It was not a great game for Williams, but it did at least show some signs of potential.

After that, Williams had his first big performance in a 27 point loss to Seton Hall, when Williams scored 15 points to go along with 4 steals and 2 assists. That performance was enough to convince Eddie Jordan that Williams should start in the next game when Daniels was coming back from injury.  Williams certainly had his challenges in the game, including 4 fouls, but it was still a big performance from the freshman.

The next three games saw Williams doing the little things right. He wasn't stuffing the stats, but he wasn't jacking up a ton of shots either. He played within the offense and limited his turnovers. He wasn't trying to do too much, which is key for a young player.  He also continued to see big minutes including multiple 30+ minute games, which is not all that common to see from freshman.

Breakout Game

Finally, Mike Williams' breakout game came against Sacred Heart, when he led the team with 22 points on 9-15 from the field. He also notched 4 steals in the game along with 3 assists and only 1 turnover. It was a very efficient game for Williams, as he made his mark in only 27 minutes of action.  It was a huge step forward for Williams as he did not even score 22 points in his first 4 games of the season.  To do it in one is huge.

What William's game against Sacred Heart also shows is his potential going forward.  Fort a team that many feel lacks the talent to compete in the Big Ten, Williams is a player that shows what Rutgers can be going forward when they add experience and more pieces to the team.  Williams is beginning to get comfortable in the system, and he will undoubtedly be a force in the Big Ten for the next 4 years.

Going Forward

Now that Williams has established himself as a starter, he will need to be a more consistent scorer. He isn't going to shoot lights out from three; that's not the type of player he is. He is a fearless slasher who will create problems for opposing defenses, and is a nice compliment to shooting guard Myles Mack. He secured the starting role by protecting the ball. He only has 10 turnovers through the first 12 games of the season, while Bishop Daniels has 19 turnovers in only 8 games. Daniels is more of a high energy 6th man that comes off the bench to add a jolt of energy to the game. That will be his role going forward. Williams will need to be the glue that holds the starting 5 together.