Williams still Bears' focal point

February 27, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

Kacy Williams carries the message on her hand.

"No fear." Or "Control." Or "Trust."

Hammond's All-Metro point guard once wrote inspirational quotations on her hand before games, but they were too long and ended up too smeared. Now, it's only a word or two. "Little things, just to keep me focused," said Williams.

Focus never seems a problem for Williams. A wide-eyed study in concentration, she sees everything on the court. Every flick of an opponent's eye that betrays her next move. Every split-second opening of the narrowest passing lane.

"She's just a presence on the court," said Sonia Keiner, the only other four-year starter and Williams' friend since kindergarten. "Kacy gives 100 percent all the time. Her motivation is so high. She holds us together in so many ways in the actual games and off the court."

The super glue of the No. 1 Bears, Williams has become a student of the psychological side of the game. She reads everything she can find and collects articles and pamphlets.

Whatever she learns, she passes on to her teammates, who often find the same inspiration.

"Before the Atholton game, she gave me some things to read because she knows I get down on myself," said Keiner. "I read the whole packet and I had the best game."

To Williams, that information is every bit as valuable as the towers of basketball videotapes lining the family room wall at home.

"The hardest thing is the mental side," said Williams. "After you've played anything for a long time, sometimes you can lose spontaneity or creativeness. What I'm trying to do is make every game a new creative experience, something I'll be able to savor afterward."

Over the past four years, Williams has given Bears fans plenty to savor.

Since the beginning of Williams' sophomore season, the Bears have accumulated a 63-10 record, gone to the state finals twice and won the Class 2A title in 1992. She has never missed a game in four years.

Hammond coach Joe Russo says Williams is the best player in Hammond history. She is the first to land a Division I scholarship, signing early with Georgetown.

"I call her my angel point guard from heaven," said Russo. "When she plays, she's a shooter, a rebounder, a ball-handler and a cheerleader. She does it all. She's the perfect team player. I guess that's why 24 schools wanted her to go to college there."

Williams, a 4.0 student, narrowed her final four to Georgetown, George Washington, Syracuse and Connecticut. Georgetown won for a variety of reasons, including its academic excellence, its location in an urban hub close to home and its need for a point guard.

Georgetown coach Patrick Knapp has had his eye on Williams for four years.

"Ever since she was a freshman," said Knapp, "you could see the intensity, you could see the defensive instincts, the ball-handling ability, and her offensive skills have improved over the past two years. I'm very impressed with the judgments she makes with the ball, but she can score now."

Williams' offensive ability has improved so much that she now holds Hammond career records in scoring (1,181 points) and assists (508). Friday afternoon, she scored only five points in an 85-30 win over Oakland Mills, but she dished out 18 assists, setting up exactly half of Hammond's baskets. That set a school single-game assist record.

Her current statistics attest to her growth as an all-around player. This season, she averages 12.1 points and 7.8 assists as well as 5.2 steals and 6.2 rebounds.

Not bad for someone who did not get serious about basketball until the 10th grade.

Early in high school, soccer appeared to be Williams' true calling. She started playing both sports when she was 9, but soccer got the most attention until after her freshman year.

That summer, she played on an AAU team that won the state title and advanced to the national tournament. She remembers it well.

"We got killed. That's when I decided I wanted to conquer the sport. I had no idea what was going on at that tournament. It was a wake-up call," she said. "The sport was so competitive, and there were so many talented players. It would be a very big challenge for me."

After that, she still earned three straight All-Metro honors in soccer, but she concentrated on basketball.

Her high school basketball career will end in the next two weeks, but during that time Williams plans to help the Bears win regional and state titles. They'll also play Mount Hebron on March 7 for a chance to win outright their first Howard County championship.

Then, she'll move on to play her final summer of AAU ball before finding a new challenge at Georgetown.

No one doubts that she is up to it -- especially Knapp, whose team is flirting with .500 after two seasons of 20 or more wins.

"We told her when we recruited her, we needed to bring in someone who could step in [at point guard] with this condition -- you have to work hard and improve and earn the position. But it's wide-open for her," he said. "I think Kacy steps into challenges like that and makes it happen."

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