Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Morgan William’s midseason woes tests her versatility at Mississippi State

Published on February 13, 2018

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DALLAS – (March 31, 2017) Mississippi State’s Morgan William lets fly a long 3-pointer, as UConn’s Kia Nurse arrives late to defend. Photo © Lee Michaelson.

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State senior guard Morgan William erupted to keep the Bulldogs pushing through 2017’s March Madness. Her game-winning shot against UConn that snapped their 111-game winning streak was nothing surprising to those who watched her crank up the efficiency at the guard position over the season. Lately, she hasn’t been scoring in the way that many recall.

So far in the season, her points per game have declined from 10.7 to 7.3, while her assist/turnover ratio stands at 4.0. She has had seven games with no turnovers. The highest she has committed was four against Georgia in her team’s SEC opener.

With an undefeated target on their back and a tough conference to battle through, Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer has called upon sophomore guard Jazzmun Holmes to ramp up the energy with aggression and spread the offense. Holmes brings intensity, depth and killer instinct with tactics of her own. Against South Carolina on Feb. 5, she went 4-of-5 from the field and distributed eight assists to separate the Bulldogs late in the final quarter. In addition, she contributed six points at Florida on Feb. 8 where all but one Bulldogs scored.

Before William’s 15-point performance at Florida, her last double-digit game was against LSU on Jan. 7 where she scored 13 points in 26 minutes. As the roles of last year’s bench players grow, William’s performance on offense now relies on her turnover ratio to facilitate and spread the ball. As she develops a new way to serve the Bulldogs, she is learning that scoring always is not the only way to win.

William has the second-best turnover ratio in Division I (4.33) behind DePaul’s Kelly Campbell (4.74). A lack of points for William does not equal a lack of a successful offense for Mississippi State.

“She doesn’t have to be at ten points a game,” Schaefer said on William’s performance. “She has so many weapons to choose from. She just has to get them the ball. That’s why her assist-turnover ratio is so high. She is a great distributor and finds her teammates.”

Through every win, no matter the point guard, William is still cheering on the team to their victories. She’s supportive and understands that her leadership comes on and off the court.

“I feel like I’ve been inconsistent,” William said on her performance over the season. “I’m trying to be consistent on both ends offensively and defensively, but I’m not on offensive. I know I have to affect the game in different areas.”

Fellow guard Victoria Vivians sees that William’s new role keeps opponents and teammates on their toes, but there comes a time where the senior guard needs to let her shooting hit teams where it hurts.

“Morgan’s been my point guard for four years,” Victoria Vivians commented. “Sometimes I have to tell her to shoot. Like last night, she was wide open and was trying to run a play, and I was like, ‘just shoot the ball.’ I told her to shoot and she made it. With her having her confidence, she’s very fun to play with.”

In what seemed to be her breakout performance in the SEC, William attacked Florida’s quiet suspicions of her lack of shooting to score 15 points. She still maintained a strong ratio with three assists and one turnover.

“I think Morgan had a lot more juice…and a lot more energy,” Schaefer said in regards to William’s Florida performance. “She played with a lot more confidence. She had a lot more confidence to her. That’s the Morgan we’re all used to seeing and we’d like to see more of.”

The game after discussing her midseason woes, William and company geared up for a conference showdown against the Kentucky Wildcats led by the guard duo of Maci Morris and Taylor Murray.

Kentucky needed Murray to continue her 18-point per game average to remain the only team Schaefer had not beaten as Mississippi State’s coach. William implemented the toughness and confidence Schaefer and Vivians knew she had to silence Murray to just seven points. She continued her perfection at facilitator with eight assists and no turnovers, while adding six big points down the stretch. Schaefer was right. Morgan William is absolutely fine.

In the end, the Bulldogs keep winning. No matter who scores the points or facilitates for their teammates, Mississippi State has the powerful confidence and versatility to continue beating their competition. The March Madness tournament is where Mississippi State will find these different combinations, lineups and defenses to knock them off of their winning streak. William must keep fulfilling big shoes to keep the Bulldogs on a steady rhythm in the Big Dance.

As William resumes her 100-consecutive games starts, she will still make an undeniable impact in whichever role she takes on. Her assists, scoring and steals take Mississippi State to the next level. A level that couldn’t be reached if she was focusing on what she is not doing.

“Mo’s doing what she needs to do to help her team win,” Schaefer said. “The most important statistic for Morgan William is the W. She’s obviously doing a great job in that category.”


 

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