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December 17, 2004

Williams gets comfortable with role off the bench

Oklahoma's outside shooting threat has become a much bigger factor in games this season thanks to the play of Jaison Williams and Lawrence McKenzie. SoonerScoop.com editor Carey Murdock caught up with Williams to get his thoughts on Saturday's matchup with Duke as well as his increased role on the team as the 'energy' guy off Kelvin Sampson's bench.

SoonerScoop.com: Going up to Duke, it doesn't get much bigger than this. What are your thoughts on going up to Madison Square Garden to go up against the Dukies?
Jaison Williams:
I'm excited. It's just an opportunity for two good programs to come into a big test at the beginning of a season. It's just going to be a nice test and in Madison Square Garden, prime time television, us against them, what more can you ask for?

SS.com: You and Lawrence McKenzie have been hitting some big shots on the perimeter to open things up for the guys on the inside. How big has that been for the team?
Williams:
Coach has been harping on us to make open shots. He doesn't ask us to make tough shots. He just wants us to make open shots. We've been going inside out. There's no secret to that. That just helps us open up our shots even more. We've just had to knock down open shots. That's really it.

SS.com: Everyone around here knows about Shelden Williams, but how about the guards for Duke? What are some of the things that stand out to you about Duke's guard play?
Williams:
They play hard. They're good. They're good shooters and they're good players all the way around. We've got to bring our 'A' game and I feel with our depth we feel confident coming into this game. That's why you play the game.

SS.com: I heard you say you were going to be on J.J. Redick a lot of the game?
Williams:
Yeah. But it's a team thing. It's not just me. Everybody's got to help guard everyone. It's a team thing.

SS.com: But that's a huge assignment because if he gets hot early, things could really snowball on you defensively right?
Williams:
Right. He's a good player, he's a great shooter and he knows how to play the game. He's smart. But it just has to be a team thing, that's all it has to be.

SS.com: Do you feel like the team got enough work during finals this week to be ready to go without any rust?
Williams:
Yeah, yeah. Everybody is ready to be done with these finals. I'm telling you, I am personally. But it's excited. I can barely sleep at night to be honest with you. I haven't felt like this since my first game in college. This is my first time going to New York and playing in Madison Square Garden so we'll see how it goes.

SS.com: A lot of people have commented on you and the role you're playing off the bench and the energy you're bringing to the floor. Could you just talk about your role off the bench this year?
Williams:
My role is just to bring energy, play good defense and make open shots. That's all coach wants me to do and I think I'm able to do that and take care of the ball. I like doing that. I'm an emotional player and I'm passionate about the game and my teammates. I think it shows and that's what I want to do - I just want to pick these guys up when they're down and hope that they pick me up when I'm down. That's just my role and I like it.

SS.com: You guys getting more used to having Terrell Everett out there too?
Williams:
Yeah. Terrell's my boy. He's quiet so I have to talk a lot. When he's at the point, I have to talk a lot. I always just see what Coach Sampson wants and make sure everybody gets it.


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