You can probably get off his behind, now.
Without a doubt, no player on this year's version of the Indiana men's basketball team has been as polarizing as Troy Williams. The junior forward entered the season with high expectations, drawing comparisons from myself to Victor Oladipo in the pre-season. Despite having a a good enough start to the season despite Indiana's struggles, Williams had been M.I.A. for much of the Big Ten season. Calls for him to step up and fill in the void left by Blackmon were met with single-digit scoring nights and wild inconsistency.
With fans calling for his starting spot to be taken away, Tom Crean held firm and his belief, and many of ours at CQ, in Williams paid off last week, showing just how valuable he is to this team.
First, Williams saved Indiana from a potential trap game and embarrassing home defeat to Nebraska with his first game of at least 18 points and 5 rebounds since early January.
Then, in one of the bigger Indiana-Purdue match-ups in recent rivalry history, Williams had perhaps his best half of the season as his play vaulted Indiana to a double-digit lead and was a big reason why the Hoosiers were able to beat the Boilermakers.
He was rewarded with Big Ten Player of the Week honors this week, which served as a figurative middle finger to those that doubted him.
Two things still remain perfectly clear with this Hoosiers team and Troy Williams: Williams has been in one heck of a slump for most of Big Ten play and IU needs Williams to be more than a Big Ten title contender. Williams is the type of player who can turn this team into an above average Big Ten favorite to an above average national title contender.
For all the criticism Williams has taken this year, he's averaging just 0.2 points less per game this season than last while playing less minutes. Save for rebounding, Williams' stats, across the board, are better this season on a per-40 minute average.
The loudest of the anti-Williams fanbase has pointed at the success of freshmen OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan. A big part of what makes them so successful is that they're only played in spurts off the bench and they contrast Williams' style of play. Teams come into games focused more on Williams than than the freshman and, as a result, they're able to find success.
But for all they've done this season, they are still just freshman who are inexperienced and do not have the talent level of Williams. This game is not as simple as swapping out Williams for Anunoby and expecting the latter to keep up his level of production. Even more, this game is not as simple as expecting the team to simply be better with Anunoby in the starting lineup and Williams off the bench. There are different dynamics, mainly mentally and emotionally, in play here.
Most importantly, though, is that this conversation is hopefully a moot point going forward. After not only Williams' performance against Purdue and Nebraska, but also his game against Iowa where he made big plays in the second half and down the stretch to help secure the win.
With Williams at his best, or simply better than the level he's played at for much of the Big Ten season, the Hoosiers become that much more dangerous. With the minutes quickly piling up on Yogi Ferrell and Robert Johnson, and an injury already a cause of concern for the latter, Williams' late-season re-emergence could prove to be critical for Indiana's potential postseason success.
At the end of the day, this team needs Troy Williams in the starting lineup and fans should expect nothing less going forward.