After a hard, long and at times stressful season in Europe, it seems like the most common statement that a player gives about what he will do first when getting back on American soil is to see family and friends. That may be true, but another thing that players are thinking about is how to satisfy their growling stomach that is giving them hunger pains, but after rotating mostly eight months between Mcdonalds, Burger King and the best native restaurant in that country, a player does have that special craving for that yummy dish that he hadn´t been able to sink his teeth into for the longest time seemingly feeling like an eternity. For San Diego native Richard Williams, playing in the tiny village of Vechta where one can drive from one end of town to the other faster than teammate Isaac Butts can take a lap around the Rasta dome blindfolded, the American didn´t have more than a hand full of places to eat so after a while finding a more variety of selection became as old as always having to hear the same bla bla of people not expecting much from SC Rasta Vechta in the Beko BBL. It was a season to forget for Williams, but when he did return home to California, he was able to momentarily forget about the hardship of finishing last and get his taste buds back on American food time. “This was the toughest season I’ve ever had. A learning and humbling experience at that. Through it all, it has made me even more hungry. I’m back in my hometown San Diego, California and if you know anything about Southern California you’ll know that we love our Mexican food. I had my brother pick me up from the airport with a Carne Asada Burrito”, smiled Richard Williams.
After a surprising opening 87-84 win in Trier, it seemed like SC Rasta Vechta would be one of those scrappy teams that would fight until the end each game and give many teams problems. The club remained scrappy and pesky, but instead then went on a nine game losing streak and lost three close games by not more than six points combined. Their disease of not being able to win in crunch time started and would accompany them until the end of the season. After beating medi bayreuth, they then lost four more games including a 70-67 game in Frankfurt in the last game of 2013. They regrouped and then won their only back to back games of the season against Bremerhaven and Wurzburg to start 2014 and it looked like they had finally jumped out of their losing funk. However they went right back to their losing ways going on a 12 game losing streak. Their season could have turned around if they had been able to just once have some fortune in crunch time. “Winning one of those close games could have easily turned our season around by bringing confidence and a bit more comradery to the team. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. To start off, I thought it came from an execution part and lack of experience in those situations. After a while I felt it became mental thing for us”, added Richard Williams. Despite Patrick Elzie making SC Rasta Vechta his project in 2009 and helping carry the club from the Regionaliga to the Beko BBL, not staying in the league wasn´t a failure. “I don’t consider it a failure because no one, including management, expected us to be competing in the BBL this soon. It all happened so fast. I wasn’t surprised by Coach Elzie’s decision. We’ve had talks throughout the season about it being a possibility”, added Richard Williams. When Williams looks back at the season, he could of picked quite a few players to give that special unsung hero award to. “ I can praise Jacob Doerkson and Dirk Madrich all day because they’re both great players and people but since you mentioned them already I would give it to Brandon Bowman. Many times this season when we struggled offensively he would carry us and he creates so many mismatches because of his crazy athleticism”, added Richard Williams. Williams won´t be back next season in Vechta, but he is content that it won´t take long for SC Rasra Vechta to present themselves again in Beko BBL arenas. “Steve Arigbabou is a very knowledgeable coach. He has experience as a player that not many people can say they have, and that’s invaluable. His basketball I.Q is through the roof because of it. It makes him a player’s coach because he can relate to everything that happens on the court. I can foresee him bringing Rasta Vechta to the BBL, no problem. It’s just a matter of time“, warned Richard Williams.
It really doesn´t matter where Williams has played in Germany, because he has always put up big numbers while being a leader on his team. He had no problems making the adjustment from the German Pro B to the Pro A and Beko BBL. In the Beko BBL, Williams led his team in scoring assists, steals and was second in rebounds. He averaged 14,6ppg, 4,7rpg, 4,4apg and 1,9spg. He was the most consistent player on the team scoring in double figures 30 times including 22 point games against ratiopharm Ulm and Wurzburg. With so many strong guards in the league, it wasn´t self-evident that he would be chosen to the 2014 Beko BBL allstar game, surely an achievement that he would have deserved. “I think I had a pretty good season to people that never heard of me and didn’t know what to expect from me. I feel I could have played much better but I too believe I did a pretty good job of presenting myself this season. Not getting selected for the All-Star is a by product of my team not being very successful. Its nothing to lose sleep over. I’m sure there are many other guys in the league that felt deserving of an All-Star spot”, added Richard Williams. If Williams would have blossomed the way he did under another coach on another team is unknown, but one thing is clear, the American was able to play the way he wanted to under Pat Elzie. “The biggest thing that Coach Elzie has given me is his confidence in my abilities. I’m a very confident person as is, but even I have my doubts at times. Coach Elzie never allowed me to let that doubt settle in. When he recruited me out Pro B he told me I was BBL point guard. The type of faith he had in me is not commonly heard of”, stressed Richard Williams.
Summer vacation started on May 1 for Richard Williams and it will be interesting where his journey goes from here. After a rookie season in Iceland, he has balled the last three seasons in Germany, but it seems like his options are very much open to where he will play. “I’d like to stay in Germany because I’m comfortable there but I wouldn’t rule out playing in another country. We’ll see what this summer has in store for me”, added Williams. Williams will undoubtedly not only have offers in the Beko BBL, but also from teams in other countries, but one system here he could surely fit into well would be that of the Fraport Skyliners. Williams is an unselfish point guard that just excels at making the right decisions be it scoring and creating his own shot or finding his teammates. Williams is a great defender that will make the game faster and would fit perfectly to Quantez Robertson on the fast break making them a deadly combo like a Durant and Westbrook in the NBA. “Coach Gordon Herbert is great at what he does. What he’s done with his team considering all the injuries they had was great. He was able to get the best of players he had. And Frankfurt was still on the cusp of making the playoffs through it all. Every player wants to play for a coach that can get the best out of them, so I wouldn’t mind playing for him”, added Richard Williams. Imagine Williams playing catch with future German national players big men Danilo Barthel and Johannes Voigtmann. Tuebingen head coach Igor Perovic said they are the best German players at their position. No position four and five pass the ball better in the Beko BBL than Barthel and Voigtmann. Back in the day Skyliner legend Pascal Roller, Tyrone Ellis and Chris Williams formed the Bermuda triangle and imagine the Bermuda passing triangle with Williams, Barthel and Voigtmann? Williams saw the two Germans play twice and lost by three points and a buzzer beater and is well aware of their qualities on the court. “They are two well developed players with an enormous amount of potential. Their quickness, strength and athleticism are a matchup nightmare”, expressed Williams. Williams had a long chat with Fraport Skyliner Jacob Burtschi before the game in Vechta and perhaps Williams was already adding him to the Bermuda passing triangle as the Oklahoma native is like a hidden second point guard. “ I used to compete with Jacob back in college when he was at Air Force and I was at San Diego State. We were in the same conference. I hated playing against him because they ran the Princeton offense. I think that’s where his passing ability came from because of all the back-doors, drive and kick offense they ran. You need great passers for the offense to work well”, warned Richard Williams. No matter where Williams ends up next season, his off season work out formula on and off the court is something that will help him reach his goals as a player. His motto is definitely something that would make Gordon Herbert smile. “My motivation every summer is wanting to be the best. No one stays the same, either you get better or you get worse. I’ll spend my summer getting better and working to be the best”, warned Richard Williams.