Williams' Taking Each Game Like His Last
"I'm feeling good," explained Williams before heading to practice on Thursday afternoon. "This is my last go around, so every game, I play it like it's my last game. Tuesday was my last game playing at Iowa State. Last Saturday was my last game playing Baylor at home. I'm just taking everything one by one and thinking about it like that."
More comfortable in his role on the court than perhaps ever before, Williams credits the impact he's been making to his new "now or never" mindset.
"I have more drive, and I'm paying more attention to detail," said Williams. "I understand the teams we play since I've been playing them four years now. My teammates and coaches, they've put me in the spot to make plays and hit shots."
Williams has led K-State in scoring six times this season, and he scored a career-high 22 points on Tuesday in K-State's close 77-71 loss at Iowa State. Against the Cyclones, he made 8-of-13 shots from the field and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and added four assists and three steals in his 31 minutes of action.
"I think he literally played to exhaustion the other night," said K-State head coach Bruce Weber about Williams. "Down the stretch, I don't think he knew who he was guarding because he was so tired. He has a great attitude; it's a great attitude to have. It's how you should play every game. Really, our whole team should play every game like that. If we play with his mindset and with attitude and effort, we'll be successful and end up having a positive season."
So today, as K-State (11-8, 4-2 Big 12) hosts Oklahoma State (13-5, 3-3 Big 12) in Bramlage Coliseum at 11 a.m., Williams is planning on bringing that same attitude to the court.
It will be, in fact, his final time playing the Cowboys during the regular season as on Jan. 3, K-State opened Big 12 play with a 61-47 loss in Stillwater.
It was a low time for K-State, then on a three-game losing skid, but the Wildcats turned their season around after the loss to the Cowboys and went on to win four conference games in a row.
Now looking better than ever, K-State enters tonight's game with redemption on its mind.
"Once a team beats you at their place, the next game is revenge," explained Williams. "Especially when you get them at home and you have your crowd, it's always revenge. At Oklahoma State, I didn't play well. So I'm looking forward to just playing well, helping the team out and trying to get another big win against a good Big 12 team."
Williams is averaging 11.5 points and a team-high five rebounds per game this season. He's the Wildcats' most consistent free throw shooter, making 49-of-61 from the line, and, as one of three seniors on the roster, his leadership both on and off the court has been crucial.
"Nino has been stepping up," said sophomore guard Marcus Foster. "He goes out there and makes his own plays. Sometimes a guy has the ball and he'll go and tip it and then make an easy lay-up. That's something about Nino - we've seen him go from taking three or four shots last year to taking 12 and making 10 of them this year. That's a big improvement, but seeing how hard he worked in the summer and the offseason, I'm not surprised he's doing that right now."
With his crafty lay-ups and his signature jump shots, there's no doubt Williams has been a key factor in the Wildcats' recent success, and he doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon.
"(The games) are (winding down), but I don't try to think about that," said Williams about his senior season becoming shorter and shorter. "I do understand it in the back of my head, but I really try to play and not think about it. I'm just trying to be mindful about the situation in front of me, not the last play or the next play. I just play."
WILDCATS HOPE TO STRIPE OUT BRAMLAGE FOR COACHES VS. CANCER
K-State Athletics is asking fans to help stripe out Bramlage Coliseum for today's game to help benefit the American Cancer Society and Coaches vs. Cancer.
The athletics department will host the event in conjunction with the annual National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Suits and Sneakers event, in which coaches and staff wear sneakers to call attention to the efforts of the American Cancer Society through its Coaches vs. Cancer program.
"We have the stripes, the Coaches vs. Cancer and the Suits and Sneakers this weekend," explained Weber. "We've added in 'Stripe Bramlage' and we're hoping people will participate in that and figure out which color their supposed to be wearing - white or purple. The t-shirt sales benefit Coaches vs. Cancer, that's a nice thing, and then the first 4,000 students get a free shirt. So you get a little hype there. I know it's early in the morning, but I hope that leads to a great environment and great energy from our team."
Fans in sections 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 and 26 are asked to wear purple, while those in sections 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 27 are asked to wear white. To view the stripe-out plan in diagram form, please click here.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TRAVELS TO NO. 3 BAYLOR
The second of its two-game series, K-State women's basketball (11-6, 1-5 Big 12) travels to Waco, Texas, to face No. 3 Baylor (17-1, 6-0 Big 12) today in the Ferrell Center.
Coming off a 63-51 loss at West Virginia on Wednesday night, the Wildcats' back-to-back road competitions make for a quick turnaround.
"That's life in this league," said head coach Jeff Mittie. "It's hard wherever you go whether you're coming back home or going on the road. The challenge continues to be: can you play to your potential?"
Overall, Baylor leads the series against K-State, 24-9, and the Bears have won 19-straight - a streak dating back to Jan. 27, 2004. The last time K-State and Baylor faced off, Baylor won, 74-44, on Jan. 6, in Bramlage Coliseum.
"They're certainly a very talented team," continued Mittie. "They gave us fits here in Bramlage; they shot the ball really well. They're a top-five team, so I'm judging us on making improvements, how long we can stay and do what we do. If we can continue to do those things, I think we'll see improvements and, eventually, the wins and losses will take care of themselves."
For more information on today's K-State women's basketball game, please click here.
TRACK AND FIELD HOSTS INAUGURAL DELOSS DODDS INVITATIONAL
K-State track and field is back in action this Saturday, hosting the inaugural DeLoss Dodds Invitational at Ahearn Field House. The last home meet before hitting the road for the next three weeks, the Wildcats will compete against Big 12 foe Oklahoma State, as well as the University of Tulsa.
To continue reading and learn more about this weekend's meet, please click here.