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May 20, 2007After a year of sitting and watching from the bench the most heralded Bearcat recruit is ready to get in the game. The first thing you notice about Mike Williams off the court is his big smile and soft spoken demeanor.
When he steps between the lines, it's all business. His tenacity on both ends was something the Bearcats were missing last year. He's not afraid to do the dirty work rebounding and playing defense, and his presence inside should equate to bigger success in 07-08.
Transferring from Texas wasn't a problem for the former McDonald's All American. "It was easy adjusting to life in Cincinnati because everyone was so positive," said Williams. "All the guys get along great so that part was easy."
The hard part was watching his new teammates take their lumps in the Big East. "It's always hard going through stuff like that, but you just have to learn and grow from it to move on."
If you made it to a game at 5/3 Arena last year, it was easy to tell help was on the way for Mick Cronin's squad when you saw the 6'7" Williams and 6'10" Adam Hrycaniuk on the bench.
That time allowed the front court duo to develop a strong friendship off the court. "The friendship with Adam is going to help out a lot" said Williams. "We hang out all the time, and do a lot of things together off the court." That friendship is clear in the open gym sessions as the two are always working hard to push each other to the limit.
As we get closer to the Top 25 recruiting class that is on the way in, Williams is excited about the help on the way. "We're ready for it'" said Williams.
"Last year the team just wasn't very deep," said Williams. "With the new guys we will have a deep bench and everyone can come in and contribute right away."
Williams' work ethic will be a very positive influence on the new talent. He's a quiet leader in the Jason Maxiel mold, and he seems to command instant respect from every one around him.
When my conversation with Williams turned to the coaching staff, he went back to mentioning their up beat attitude.
"The staff is great," said Williams. "They are all very up beat and positive. You really need positive people around the program to keep everything leveled and balanced. As players we have to adjust and put in the work, and sometimes we get frustrated so it's nice to have a staff that can keep you positive and put a smile on your face."
That's no doubt a glowing report on what coach Cronin was able to do in putting a staff together. The players respond well to them, and it's also a huge help on the recruiting trail.
Williams flashed that big smile when asked about Coach Cronin's TV trip to Canada. The mention of wearing make up led to him joking about the team making fun of his forehead. "It's all jokes and fun, and Coach takes it pretty well."
Bearcat fans far and wide are going to love Mike Williams' toughness and style of play on the court, and he's the perfect type of player to represent the new era of Bearcat basketball. He has great hands, and works hard for position on both ends of the floor. And if you look close after a Bearcat victory, you'll no doubt see him flash that big smile.
Stay tuned to BearcatLair.com for the next installment of Summer School.
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