Dec. 19, 2007
By Jeremy S. Fallis
The contributions here and there, the little things that help a team win that don't always end up in the box score, usually make the difference between winning and losing. The play of Garrett Williamson making those little things continue to happen in favor of the Hawks, could very well be one of the major reasons why Saint Joseph's achieves a successful season.
Williamson, a 6-5 sophomore guard from Lower Merion, PA, is still in a learning phase from a remarkable freshman year. A surprise starter and defensive stalwart for the Hawks last season, Williamson is being called upon to be the backup point guard in addition to his defensive duties. Just last Thursday, he had little trouble shutting down All-West Coast Conference player Jeremy Pargo of Gonzaga, frustrating the veteran junior as he scored just seven points, missing six shots and causing three turnovers. Currently, Williamson is focusing more on his point guard duties.
"It's something new and it takes some getting used to, " Williamson said. "I've been working with [assistant] coach [Doug] Overton and learning from the other guys on the team and picking up little things."
The man that Williamson is backing up is junior transfer and SJU co-captain, Tasheed Carr. At the same time, Williamson is doing his best to learn from his veteran counterpart who spent two years at Iowa State, a school that competes in the highly-competitive Big 12.
"He's a good vocal leader," said Williamson of Carr. "He's been around the game for a while. Last year we didn't have much of a leader."
Although Williamson's role has him being the sixth man off the bench due to Carr's presence, he is not down about that because the feeling around the team is nothing but positive.
"This year it's a lot different," Williamson said about the team. "And the vibe on the team is different, too. The guys have bought into winning and it's just a different feel with this team."
Williamson even went so far as to say how the team has sacrificed some of its selfish and individual goals for the betterment of the team.
"Everyone gets along," Williamson added. "We did last year, too, but it's just a different feel. Everybody wants the same thing and it's all about the team this year."
Now that Williamson is a veteran leader himself, he has been helpful to the newcomers as well as a floor general at the point guard position. His teammates have cited him with helping their games on and off the court.
"I try to give them a little insight from what I went through," said Williamson. "I just try to talk them through stuff and keep encouraging them."
Williamson would know best considering his breakout year in 2006-07. He was a late signee out of Lower Merion High and seemingly was signed to fill out the freshman class more than to provide immediate production. Nevertheless, Hawk head coach Phil Martelli thought otherwise and Williamson began his collegiate career with a start against Fairfield at the Fieldhouse.
"Last year was unexpected," Williamson added. "I was kind of thrown into the fire. I learned a lot just being out there a year."
From there on, he started 31 of the Hawks' 32 games. This year, he spent the offseason improving his shot and doing extensive weight training. The goal has changed from just playing everyday to making the bigger plays to help the Hawks win.
A big play that many SJU fans will remember for a while is a foul that Williamson committed during the Ball State game last week. He skied above the rim, flanking a Cardinal who was ready to throw down a dunk, only to see Williamson turn him away. To the dismay of Williamson, his teammates and every fan in the Fieldhouse, a foul was called by the trailing referee. That didn't keep Williamson from laughing about it later on.
"Yeah, it was a block. I've had some good blocks, but they called the foul so I can't really count that."
As good as Williamson's game is at Hawk Hill, it was crafted at Lower Merion. He is the second leading scorer in school history behind NBA superstar, Kobe Byrant. Williamson has deep roots from his high school and grade school days that helped his decision to join the Hawks in the spring of 2006.
"Growing up near St. Joe's and coming to the campus and going to the games as a kid," Williamson said. "I knew the vibe around the city and respect for the program."
Now that his playing career has extended to Saint Joseph's, Williamson is still finding that being a student-athlete is a most rewarding experience.
"Playing on the team and knowing the guys and the experiences we have in college will last forever."