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Season preview: CHD interviews Stetson coach Corey Williams

To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Stetson coach Corey Williams about Stetson basketball, playing with Michael Jordan and playing for Phil Jackson.

corey

In the 1992 NCAA tourney you scored a team-high 25 points in a 3-point loss to eventual runner-up Michigan: how were you able to play your best when it mattered the most, and what was it like to face the Fab 5? When I look back on my career, I was always able to rise to the occasion at the end of the season. I was able to play relaxed because I was pretty sure of myself and knew what type of player I was. My mother was a very driven woman, and due to her influence I tried to give it my best shot on every occasion. It was awesome to face the Fab 5. They had our respect as a good team: I just viewed them as some good freshmen but was not buying into the hype as much as the rest of the country.

In the spring of 1992 you were drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs despite not having played football since 8th grade: what was your reaction to getting drafted, and how close did you come to joining the Chiefs? It was awesome: I was the only player from Oklahoma State selected in the NFL draft that year. I did not have the miles on me that many of the other football players had on them. I also never got hit, which made it even more fun!

After getting drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 1992, you won a ring after John Paxson made the series-winning 3-PT shot with 3.9 seconds left in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals: what did it mean to you to win a title? It meant the world to me. After the game Michael Jordan said he wanted to thank everyone “from Corey Williams on down.” Right before that he looked at me and said, “Didn’t I tell you we would win!?”

Speaking of the Bulls: what was it like playing with Jordan and playing for Phil Jackson? Michael is the best player I have ever seen in my life, and it was great to watch him prepare every day. Phil was the Zen Master who had a bunch of philosophies. He challenged us to do some unconventional things, but respected us for who we were and was able to connect with everyone and blend the talent together into a cohesive unit.

In the 2011 ACC tourney as an assistant to Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, Derwin Kitchen made a fadeaway shot at the buzzer before the refs reviewed it and then waved off in a 1-point win by Virginia Tech: care to share your thoughts on instant replay?! In hindsight, when Malcolm Delaney made the game-winning basket he stepped out of bounds twice on the baseline. Kitchen made a great shot but it was just after the buzzer: when you go back and look at it, you can see they made the right decision.

In the 2012 ACC tourney you beat Miami, Duke and North Carolina to win the first ACC title in school history: what is the key to winning three games in three nights? We had some more experience that year that had been exposed to playing teams like Duke and UNC, so there was not as much awe as in the past. We were confident that we could beat the Tar Heels because we had beat them by 33 points a couple of months earlier. We had veteran leadership, which made it easier to execute because we had been through the wars, and we took advantage of the moment.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against UCF, New Mexico State, Davidson, and Florida State: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? All of them will present a tall mountain for us to climb, but Florida State will pose a very big challenge. We have to get to a level of play that allows us to extend the game and have a chance to win at the end. If it is a close game, then the pressure will be on our opponents.

Four of your top-6 scorers from last year have graduated (Willie Green/Raymone Andrews/Aaron Graham/Hunter Miller): how on earth will you try to replace their combined 35 PPG? Hopefully we will do it by committee and have a balanced attack. I would love to have a bunch of players average 8-14 points so that our opponents cannot beat us by just shutting down one player. Our freshman will be thrown into the fire early and often and will have to respond.

What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? My goal is for the team to play as a unit and play hard every possession. We need to serve each other and have a never-say-die attitude.

JonTeitel