Williams Embraces Role with Wildcats

He's enjoying the game because now, with three years under his belt with the K-State men's basketball team, the senior forward understands his role with the team better than ever before.
"It's one thing for the coach to give you a role, but it's another thing for a player to embrace the role, take pride in the role and execute the role," said head coach Bruce Weber. "I think that's what Nino is doing right now. He's said after games that he knows the system, he knows how to get shots and what plays he needs to do to help himself, and that helps the team. He's been in it for three years. He's older now. He's smarter."
For the first time in his career, Williams was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week earlier this week after averaging nearly a double-double (17 points and 9.5 rebounds per game) in the Wildcats' wins over Bradley and Savannah State. 
Williams' 14 points and 12 rebounds against Bradley on Dec. 9, marked his second career double-double (the first of this season) and the third time he has led the Wildcats in scoring this season. 
"I understand the system," echoed Williams of his coach. "It's been three years, so I just understand what they want me to do now, and I find ways to score in the system."
He's grown into his role, he understands the system, and he said that makes for an easier, more enjoyable time on the court.
"I think I've been mindful while I'm playing," explained Williams. "I'm not really thinking about scoring or rebounding, I'm just playing, and luckily the ball has been going my way." 
With the ball going his way, it will be important for Williams to step up again today as the Wildcats (6-4) will play host to the Texas A&M Aggies (7-2) tonight at Sprint Center.
With tipoff set for 6 p.m., and the game set to be aired on ESPNU, tonight's game will be a battle on the court between two teams looking to prove themselves before conference play begins.
"It's going to be a tough game," said Weber. "Texas A&M has a good mixture of transfers, older guys, younger guys. They've played some good teams, and they've competed. We're going to have to play a good ballgame if we're going to have a chance."
On Dec. 6, Texas A&M defeated Arizona State with junior guard Alex Caruso leading the way.
"Their one guard, Caruso, is really, really good," Weber said. "During that Arizona State game he had 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and six steals. He basically dominated that game and won it on his own, so he's very competitive. He's crafty, smart and knows how to play."
But three days after defeating the Sun Devils, Texas A&M traveled to Baylor and fell to the Bears, 77-63. 
Entering today's match, the Aggies are coming off an 81-63 win over Youngstown State while K-State enters the contest following a 73-53 win over Savannah State. Overall, K-State leads the series with Texas A&M, 17-7. 
Tickets for tonight's game are still available. For more information, you can click here to visit the online ticketing office or call the ticketing office in Bramlage Coliseum at 1-800-221-CATS.
Finals Week Adds Unique Challenges for Women's Basketball
The K-State women's basketball team (7-1) resumes its four-game home stand this afternoon as the Wildcats face Grambling State (3-6) at 1 p.m., in Bramlage Coliseum.
The Wildcats are coming off of a 53-47 win over Oral Roberts last Sunday afternoon, but the week of preparation for today's game has been spent a little differently than most. 
Monday through Friday was Kansas State's finals week, so each player had a little bit more on its mind than basketball and the upcoming game.
"(With finals week) you have a stretch of practices where you'd like to add things, but it's not a great week to add things because they're all just mentally drained," said head coach Jeff Mittie on how he works through the week. "So you kind of balance what you put in at practice. I don't put in a lot during finals week. We just try to emphasize what we've been doing, and if we do add one or two things, they're very simple things."
Sophomore forward Breanna Lewis, the Wildcats' leading scorer at 13.9 points per game, said this past week she had one early final, then, at the end of the week she had three finals in a row.
"They're very understanding," said Lewis about her coaching staff during finals week. "It's school time now, more than basketball, and I feel like that's really good. They try to keep us as unstressed out as possible; that makes everything easier." 
Though Mittie and his staff works to make things as easy as possible for the team, he said he's happy with the way his players have worked on the court during this week's practices.
"I've actually felt pretty consistent this week," the coach said with a smile. "Every year is a little bit different with (finals week). It's hard to predict, but this year seems to have a decent consistency to it."
For a closer look at this afternoon's women's basketball game, please click here

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