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Benny Williams Has Figured it Out

Photo courtesy of @CuseMBB on X

Underperforming, not playing, in the dog house, suspended, and pouting, among other things have defined Benny Williams’ college basketball career, until the last few weeks. The most experienced player on Syracuse’s roster (that’s crazy right) has been through his highs and lows in Central New York but may have finally found himself a role over the Orange’s most recent games off the bench, doing whatever the team needs to win.

“Just letting me know what he expects from me on and off the court,’’ Williams said after Syracuse’s 81-73 win over Pittsburgh to syracuse.com. “Knowing that I’m one of the older guys on the team, I can’t act like I did when I was a freshman or a sophomore. Just got to step up and be there for my teammates whether I played four minutes in the first half, I’ve got to be there on the bench, clapping them up (and) telling them the next play.”

Williams missed the first two games of the season due to a violation of team rules, did not play against Gonzaga in the second game of the Maui Invitational for an unknown reason, and did not play against Cornell in early December either and many had been questioning what Williams’ future with the team and program was. Then, a switch was flipped, and in the Orange’s last three games, all wins, against Oregon, Niagara, and Pittsburgh, Williams has averaged nearly 10 points and over four rebounds a game while playing 18 minutes a night. His biggest contribution was against the Panthers where he scored 15 points and snatched seven rebounds in 24 minutes while playing great defense and matching, if not outdoing the Panther’s physicality in the paint.

“I thought Benny was great,’’ Syracuse coach Adrian Autry said postgame via syracuse.com. “I thought he came in with great energy. You could see it the last couple of weeks. He was taking that turn and I’m just so excited for him because he stayed with it.’’

Practice has always been a big thing at Syracuse, whether the head coach is Jim Boeheim or Adrian Autry, how you play in practice is a clear indicator of how much and how well you play in games, just look at Quadir Copeland and Maliq Brown, who are often talked about as SU’s two best practice players. Now, that’s starting to ring true for Williams, who with Copeland and Brown, combined for 52 points off the bench in the win, and are creating an energetic and physical second unit for the Orange that are causing opponents lots of problems.

“You know he’s starting to settle down because you’re starting to see his athleticism take over games now,’’ Autry said postgame via syracuse.com. “We hadn’t seen that in the first couple of years. He’s starting to settle down. He’s just a different player.

Syracuse needs Williams’ athleticism and physical gifts in the ACC when going up against big, tough teams like the Panthers, and having someone at 6’9 that can jump out of the gym is a massive asset for Autry to use off the bench. For the Orange to make a run in the conference back towards the national conversation and into March, they need Williams to keep up this production and play whatever role he is asked to perfection.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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