As Benny Williams begins his sophomore year with the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team, the former top-40 recruit is looking to find consistency in his game. It starts in practice on the defensive end, he says, where being engaged early produces better results throughout.
Williams, noticeably more muscular than he was a season ago, is now up to 208 lbs. As a freshman he enrolled at Syracuse at 185 lbs. He spent the offseason getting in better shape, working on his ball handling and his shooting.
“He’s worked harder,” Jim Boeheim said. “I think his shooting has improved. He’s at a much better place, much higher level than he was last year. I think he continues to get better every day.”
Williams says he put extra attention on getting in great shape for the season ahead.
“I would do conditioning maybe three or four times per week,” Williams said. “I did a lot of running on the field to get in shape, a 300 yard shuttle that I would do sometimes. I think that helped me the most.”
It was a laborious summer for Williams, who focused on his shooting and expanding his range. Also included in the summer’s work was a trip to Barclelona, Spain with USA East Coast in August. He wants to be more consistent from all three levels.
“At 6-9, I don’t think there’s many guys like me that can do what I can do from all three levels,” He said.
In a road game at North Carolina last season, Williams went down with an injury which kept him out for the remainder of the season. He was coming off his best game of the season — a 14 point, six rebound effort at home against Duke — when he fractured his left tibia in Chapel Hill and missed the rest of the reason. Despite the difficulties of his freshman season, Williams never entertained the idea of transferring.
“In my mind there was no reason to transfer,” He said. “Everything I need is here. Anything wrong that happened last year was all my fault. I can’t blame anybody else for that. I’ve always wanted to be here since I can remember. Watching Jerami Grant growing up, C.J. Fair, guys like that. So it’s just no reason to transfer for me.”
Williams didn’t externalize the situation or shift blame. His head coach likened the situation to getting grades in class.
“A freshman that is really, really good and doesn’t play is likely to leave. If you’re not ready and you’re not really playing that well, I think your decision is, ‘I need to get better’ not, ‘I need to go some place.’ If you’re taking courses and you’re getting all Ds, it’s your fault. You don’t transfer. You try to say ‘This is my fault. I gotta get grades.’ Go out there and get Bs,” Boeheim said.