Terrance Williams II knew that, in order to earn more of a role in his sophomore season, he had to improve on his shooting. The forward struggled in limited game action his freshman year, averaging just 1.9 points per game on 35.9% shooting. Williams also made just one 3-pointer the entire season on 12 attempts.
So this summer, he put up 1000 shots everyday.
The results were clear Wednesday night.
Williams emerged as Michigan’s second leading scorer in the Wolverines’ win over Buffalo — dropping 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The real kicker: Williams drained two 3-pointers and has already doubled his total from a year ago.
“I’m gonna continue to do what’s best for the team, no matter the situation, no matter the role I play,” Williams said. “Today, it just happened to be scoring.”
Williams didn’t crack the starting lineup, with senior forward Brandon Johns Jr. getting the start. He also failed to make the first rotation, with freshman Moussa Diabete subbing in for Johns. But once Williams did it in the game, he made it hard to take him out.
Coming into the season it was evident Williams would be stepping into a bigger role, although that role was largely undefined. Against the Bulls, Williams saw action all over the court and even spent some time at the ‘2’ when fifth-year guard DeVante’ Jones got into foul trouble.
“I feel like I’m just a plug and play type,” Williams said. “It’s just realizing who I’m on the floor with to be honest. I didn’t know the lineup, I didn’t know the rotation or how I was going to play. I just plug and play and sometimes I was at the two, three, four. It doesn’t really matter to me.”
Beyond his impact shooting the ball, Williams was also getting in the paint and grabbing rebounds, including two on the offensive boards. He also produced two blocks on the defensive end and forced a travelling violation late in the second half.
“It’s not always gonna be a night where he scores 15 or makes shots,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He also does the little things that don’t show up on a box score.”
Another emphasis for Williams in the offseason was conditioning. He changed his diet and cut down 10 pounds so he’d have more energy at the end of games — something he struggled with freshman year.
But Williams seemed to have the most energy on the floor Wednesday night as the game wound down. With Buffalo having cut the lead to five, Williams stepped up and drained a three and put in an early dagger in the Bulls’ hopes. Then, coming out of the under-four timeout, Williams was back on the floor for more crucial minutes to close out the victory.
“I think this year he knows he needs to be more aggressive for us because we don’t have the scoring from Isaiah (Livers) and Franz (Wagner),” sophomore center Hunter Dickinson said. “So for us, we’re really excited that he’s being aggressive because he’s a really good offensive player for us … and he’s a guy that you love playing with.”
While Johns struggled with just five points and Diabete failed to score in the second half, Williams surged. In a crowded front court, Williams — at least through one game — proved he may be a primary option.
For Williams, it’s all about having more confidence.
“I just feel like with the trust and work I put in, those two combined, it just builds up my confidence even more,” Williams said. “No matter if I make or miss, no matter whether I play or whether I don’t, I’m still confident.”
But just how much better does he feel for his sophomore campaign?
“Way more confident,” Williams said. “Way more confident.”