SE: Williams Happy to Be Back on the Court

Nino Williams

Jan. 18, 2012

By Mark Janssen

Imagine having a headache ranging from dull to splitting every single day ... and for months.

"It wasn't a good time," admitted K-State freshman basketballer Nino Williams, who Saturday enjoyed his career-game with 12 points and nine rebounds in an 82-73 loss to Oklahoma.

It was a year ago in mid-November that Williams whacked the back of his head on a fall to the Bramlage Coliseum basketball court during a Wildcat practice.

"I was out about 10 days where I couldn't remember some stuff and had constant headaches," said the 6-foot-5 native of St. Louis, but graduate of Kansas' Leavenworth High School, who missed K-State's exhibition game, plus the first three games to the 2010-11 season.

Williams was then cleared to play for a couple weeks getting into three games against Gonzaga, Texas Southern and Emporia State, where he scored a total of seven points.

"I recovered pretty quickly, so it wasn't too scary," said Williams.

But the next concussion was scary. It again came in practice with the blow coming from Freddy Asprilla's elbow.

"I was out (of practice) about three months on that one," reflected Williams. "I couldn't do any running, lifting or have any contact for over two months. I didn't lose memory, but my brain was swollen a little bit and I had that constant headache."

Of the blows, coach Frank Martin said, "The first one was a fluke, but the second one was ugly. It's not a comfortable thing to go through from a coaching standpoint."

It was serious enough that doctors told Williams "... if I had another one (concussion) I would be out at least six months."

"Nino is a competitive kid and it hurt him that he couldn't take part in workouts," said Martin, who estimates that Williams took part in no more than "seven to 10 practices" with those being at the end of the season. "He didn't get that full benefit from a redshirt season because he couldn't practice.

Everyone knows what to do sitting on the sideline, but when you actually get out on the court and perform it gets more complicated."

From his year of watching, Williams, the 2010 Kansas High School Player of the Year, said, "I learned how hard practices were and what it takes to be good at K-State. But not getting out on the floor and mixing it up hurt.

"I'm not sure how much I could have helped in games because I was young, but I could have helped them in practice," said Williams.

Williams has played in 11 of K-State's 16 games this year, averaging just over six minutes per game. He has averaged 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds after Saturday's breakout game against the Sooners.

What Williams hopes he can give the Wildcats the rest of the way is "... energy, rebounding and hitting some open shots when they come. I just want to help with team play."

EVENING WITH THE LONGHONS: Kansas State will try for a third consecutive win over Texas tonight at 8 p.m. when the Longhorns visit Bramlage Coliseum. The game will be telecast on ESPN2.

A string Frank Martin's team will be trying to break is to avoid the first three-game Big 12 losing streak going back to the 2009 league season when the Wildcats opened by losing its first four games.

A week ago, K-State suffered a painful loss to No. 4 Baylor by two points. Saturday, the Wildcats were downed 82-73 by an Oklahoma team that was 0-3 in the Big 12.

Afterward, Martin said, "We needed this game. You lose to Baylor the way we did and it hurts your feelings. We needed a game like this to make us better. This one makes you go home and look in the mirror. If you're a man, the guy in the mirror isn't going to lie to you. If you look in the other mirror hoping to get an excuse from someone else, then you get exposed. That's what kind of game this was."

While K-State is 1-3 in the league and 12-4 overall, Texas is 2-2 in Big 12 play and 12-5 for the season. The wins have been at home over Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, while the losses were on the road to Missouri and Iowa State.

Saturday, the Longhorns lost to the Tigers, 84-73, despite J'Covan Brown scoring 34 points, which included a half-dozen 3-pointers.

Brown, a 6-1, junior, currently leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.1 points per game, but in the last four games, four different Texans have led the team in points, including freshmen Julien Lewis and Myck Kabongo, plus junior Clint Chapman.

K-State's Rodney McGruder has averaged 21 points per game in the last six outings, which includes games of 19, 30, 20 and 15 in the four Big 12 games. For the year, McGruder is scoring at a 14.6-point per game clip.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: After tonight, K-State travels for three of its next four games. That's Saturday at Oklahoma State, on Jan. 25 at Texas Tech, and on Jan. 31 at Iowa State. The lone home game will come against Oklahoma on Jan. 28.