If you were present in Fleming Gymnasium the afternoon of March 9, then you know that UNCG’s Bailey Williams is the truth.
After having just been named to the SoCon All-Conference Third team about a week earlier, the senior guard wreaked havoc on Brown University’s defense by scoring 27 points (including 15 in the fourth quarter) and dishing out 6 assists while committing no turnovers.
“I think I was really driven from my last game in the [SoCon] tournament,” Williams said, “I played poorly and that really hurt.”
Her best performance of the year couldn’t have come at a better time; she and her Spartan teammates made a double-digit comeback to win the game 87-84. The victory knocked Brown out of the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI), where the Spartans would eventually contend for the tournament championship.
“For me, I really wanted to play until the last game because it hurt so bad how we lost in the [SoCon] tournament,” Williams said, “so if anything, I wanted to prove our worth because I wanted to play for as long as we could.”
Throughout the course of the tournament, Williams averaged 15.8 points per game compared to her overall season average of 10.2.
“It was a different feel because it was a lot less pressure,” Williams said of postseason play. “It was like you were playing for fun because it was postseason and we weren’t expected to be there, so I think that’s why we did so well.”
UNCG eventually fell short to the Rice Owls in the championship game of the WBI, but the Spartans’ season was anything but disappointing. For the first time in ten years, the Spartans won 20 games in a season, and for the first time in Williams’ four-year tenure, the team reached double-digit wins.
“[20 wins] means a lot, just because we worked so hard our last three years and really stuck it out,” Williams said, “so to actually have success, it meant a lot to me.”
One big change in the women’s basketball program this year was the addition of six freshmen to the roster. As a returning senior with loads of experience, Williams was assigned the task of helping to lead a group of new faces on the team. Her previous approach of leading by example wasn’t going to be enough with six first-year players.
“My goal was to be more of a vocal leader, and that’s what Coach Pat told me she needed from the beginning,” Williams said. “I think I got better as the season went on.”
She admits that although her voice “isn’t very loud”, she doesn’t think that the girls on the team would describe her as quiet. Often times, she’d take advantage of huddles and timeouts to try and communicate with her teammates during the game.
“I think people do better when you talk to them one-on-one,” Williams said, “that way they hear what you say instead of yelling at them.”
Another adjustment for Williams came with having a brand new head coach for this season in Trina Patterson. This seemed to have no ill effect on Williams, who led the Spartans in assists, and finished the season with more assists than turnovers. More importantly, Williams was able to establish a strong rapport with Coach Patterson, evidenced by Williams leading the entire team in minutes played.
“I knew I was going to like her [Coach Patterson] from the start because she had a lot of meetings with me and really asked me my opinion about things,” Williams said. “I think our styles meshed really well and I was really lucky to have her as my head coach this year.”
With the college basketball season having finished and with graduation right around the corner, Williams still isn’t exactly sure what she’ll be doing this upcoming fall. She has the option to tryout to play overseas, has connections if she wants to pursue a coaching career, or could take a year off before returning for graduate school.
If her decision-making is anything like it is on the court, then she’ll undoubtedly be primed for success in her post-UNCG playing years.