The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

February 27, 2014

Mabee one more time

OKLAHOMA CITY — It will be a little emotional for Marquavius Williams when he plays his final home game for Northern Oklahoma College Enid tonight when the Jets host Western Oklahoma State in the second half of a 6 p.m. Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s-women’s doubleheader.

“Man, it came up fast,’’ said the Jets sophomore guard. “I’m going to be leaving all of my friends. This is the last time I’ll play on the home floor. It should be emotional.’’

The game will have a bearing on next week’s Region 2 Tournament as the Jets and the Pioneers are tied for third at 11-6. They are one game behind conference leader Connors State (12-5) and a half-game behind Redlands (11-5).

Connors owns the tiebreaker over NOC Enid, so the Jets could finish anywhere from second to fourth.

“We just need to play well,’’ said Jets head coach Greg Shamburg. “Where we fall, is where we fall.’’

The Region 2 tournament very likely will determine Williams’ basketball future.

Williams, the only player back with any significant minutes from last year’s 23-10 team, has had a bittersweet sophomore season.

He is averaging 5.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Williams started in only 11 of the 27 games so far as a talented freshman class has stepped up.

“It’s been a rough year for me,’’ he said. “I’ve been trying to stick with what I can do and stay positive. It’s been a whole new team this year. I think we have been closer. The freshmen have stepped up and played well. If we stick together, we can do well in the tournament.’’

Williams is his own worst critic, blaming only himself for not starting as many games as he hoped he would.

“I came in this year with a different attitude and I came in with the wrong attitude about expecting things,’’ he said. “I’m back in the flow. The tournament is the third season for me. I need to step up and lead this team. I need to work hard and be ready.’’

For Williams, the regionals also are a chance impress four-year college suitors.

“A lot is riding on this tournament for me,’’ he said. “It’s kind of do-or-die. Hopefully, I can step it up and make it happen. I just have to believe in myself. I don’t believe it’s over for me playing basketball.’’

Shamburg has a high opinion of Williams, both as a player and a person.

“He is the kind of kid that you want to coach,’’ Shamburg said. “He always goes to class. He always shows up on time. He’s low maintenance. He never complains. He always works hard. You would like to have 12 to 15 guys like that.’’

Williams appreciates such words.

“I’m addicted to hard work,’’ he said. “If you work hard and get along with everyone, you should be good. I try not to brag, but I try to a blue collar type guy. I take pride in that.’’

Williams has earned the reputation of being a defensive-minded, pass-first, shoot-second type of player, taking perhaps the most pride in his defensive effort.

“A lot of that is just effort,’’ he said. “If you want a stop, you do it. Defense has always been my specialty. It’s something I always took pride in not letting my man score on me. It’s because I’m a competitor it’s what I do.

“Anybody can score on the college level, but you have to play both ends. It’s about you stepping up and stopping that man. I like contact and I like being physical.’’

He didn’t feel he was living up to those words at times, though.

“I put a lot of work in, but I played tentatively, I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been,’’ Williams said. “That’s why a freshman took over my position. It’s time now for me to lead.’’

Williams said he learned some humbleness before re-earning his starting position when Cornell Neal injured a knee. Of course, in Shamburg’s ever-changing rotation, eight to 10 players see about an equal amount of playing time.

“I got my confidence back,’’ he said. “I feel like everything happens for a reason. I really learned a lot this semester and at this school. I learned you have to work hard every time and don’t take anything for granted because it can be taken away from you.’’

Williams said he’s “not as vocal as he should have been,” but always tries to lead by example.

“He leads by action,” Shamburg said. “Guys who show up on time and do what they’re supposed to do, they can lead without talking. He’s learned to become a college player.”

Williams, an Arts and Sciences major, hopes to study mass communications at his next college.

Ben Berry, John Lazenby III and DeShawn Dean are the other Jets sophomores playing their last home game.

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