My personal opinion in regards to the question above is that we are not seeing Willms at his best. I honestly don't think his talents/strengths are being utilized to the utmost. Don't get me wrong, he has a lot of developing to do...physically and emotionally. Physically speaking, I think it would be safe to say that Willms could be a dominant force in C-USA, within a year or two, with about 20 more pounds on his frame. He tends to get pushed around much too easily at this point in his career. Not only would 20 additional pounds of bulk make him tougher to budge, but it would give him some much needed strength to do some pounding of his own. I also think he needs to spend some time with his hands in the rice bin to strengthen his grip. Far too many potential rebounds are being easily slapped out of his big mitts. My son plays college football as a TE and thrusting his hands into a bin of rice and grabbing fistfuls over and over has done wonders to strengthen his already strong hands. I really think that would helps Willms out as well. As far as the emotional aspect goes, Willms is young and the maturity will only come in time, and with future success. Willms is easily taken out of his game when things are not following in line with his expectations. He tends to play with his emotions on his sleeve. This is not a bad thing, in fact as soon as he becomes effective on the court, his energy is going to boost the intensity of the whole team. At this point, though, Matt is easily ruffled, and it is clear and apparent when this happens. If I can see it as a spectator, its gotta be obvious to opponents who know how to exploit it, as well. Again, this will pass in due time. I do, however, think the maturation process can be expedited by using to more of Wllms' current strengths.
Disclaimer: I don't profess to know any more than the next guy. While I played basketball through HS, I've never coached basketball. I have coached two soccer teams who made it to nationals, one of them making it to the finals. I, like many of you, would say that I know talent when I see it. I think my strength as a coach has been doing more with less...figuring out ways to get the most out of my players. I'm not saying any of this to toot my own horn. I mention it because these are the things I naturally look for when I watch my favorite teams. I don't even watch for them really, these particulars just naturally stand out to me. I see potential...then I wonder how said potential can be tapped into and utilized. OK, enough about that.
Like I mentioned before, I think Willms has the potential to be a real stud in due time. But, in the meantime, I think he could really help this team considering our great need for bench support. So the question begs, how can he most help this team NOW? Lets take a look. Willms has great height. Willms is athletic. He can run. He has pretty good body control for someone his size. It may not look like it yet, but Matt has good hands...they are just weak. He has a nice soft touch. He hits about 70% of his FTs...which when he starts to get the ball around the rim on a regular basis, will be a weapon. These are all great attributes to build his game around. What I'm about to say, I've said before, but I think its worth mentioning again. Willms is not a very good rebounder at this time. Again, I think this is due to his lack of strength, not lack of ability. Because rebounding is not a great strength of his, why not let Matt get out of the blocks as soon as the opponent's shot is taken? Leave the defensive rebounding to any of these guys who happen to be in the game at the time, Bohannon, Lang, Hunter, perhaps even JWash. Let Willms get out in the open and ahead of the big who happens to be guarding him. Once down court, play him above the rim as often as possible. Willms should be getting a minimum of 7-8 points a game, in my opinion, with his height and athleticism. If Matt consistently put that many points on the board, UTEP becomes that much more difficult to beat. He will develop into more of a defensive force, as well as rebounder, with time. Neither are a strength of his yet, but they will become more and more, a part of his game. While in process, though, why not take advantage of what he does well? When he's in and we have to run half court offense, have him get as deep into the paint as possible and let him throw up a few more shots per game.They will start falling as he gains more and more confidence. Due to his sheer size, he's also gonna draw some cheap fouls, and he's shown he can hit most of his FTs. I'm talking about about 6-8 minutes a half. Let him run when possible. Change things up while he's in, making the opposing defense adjust to us. Let us be the one's taking it to our opponents for a couple stretches each game. Being that we are offensively challenged we seem to let everybody bring it to us all game long, every game, because the core of our identity resides in being a tough defensive unit. I think it would be a great change of pace and worth experimenting with. On the defensive end, let him alter as many shots as possible. Take some of the pressure off of him by lowering expectations of Willms carrying the rebounding load and let him swat at the flies. He just isn't the rebounding monster one would want in a 7 footer. It is my expectation that he will eventually be a 9-10 rebounds a game guy...but its not in him at this stage in his development. His length, though, could make it very difficult to get many clean and uncontested shots off by the opposition. Even making someone alter their shot will lower opponents field goal percentage over time. It doesn't go without saying that Willms does need to learn to stand his ground and take a hard foul on occasion, instead of flying out of control and slapping his opponent as he flies toward the bucket. Still, I think one of the marks of a great coach is his ability to find a balance between building a system around his personnel and running an established system and having his personnel fit into said system. I wonder if CTF has considered this approach in regards to Willms. We need Willms to give more and I think this is an approach that might yield more results. I am no where near ready to give up on Willms. I see far too much potential to let him get away. I'd hate to lose him like we lost Twymond. He'd end up somewhere else and we'd hear all about how the once latent potential is now blossoming. I personally think he'll be the guy we are talking about next year, as the most improved player on the squad. Lets hope we can say such a thing, but it would be even better if we have the opportunity to say he is the most improved player from the start of this season to season's end.
Please, by all means, feel free to inform me of any of short sightedness that you might see in my assessment. Feel free to add to the assessment...or even create your own in response. Like I said, I know this all one man's opinion and perhaps nothing more. Even though we may see things differently, everybody on this board has at least one thing in common, and that's to see our Miners play some good basketball and kick some ass!