The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

October 30, 2012

MSU men's basketball team to lean on lone senior's experience

MANKATO — Jarvis Williams has only one season of eligibility remaining, and he wants to play professional basketball somewhere.

The 6-foot-6 Williams figured the best way to accomplish that goal was to transfer to Minnesota State, where he hopes to help the Mavericks return to a prominent spot in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“I made a real good connection with coach (Matt Margenthaler) and the players,” Williams said. “The coach has a background of winning, and I want to be part of that.”

Minnesota State opens the season Thursday with an exhibition game at the University of Minnesota. The Mavericks, who finished 7-19 last season, play another exhibition game Sunday at Iowa State.

“Obviously, we want to win, but we also want to set some goals that we can reach if we don’t win,” Margenthaler said. “We want to do things right and keep it in perspective. These are two very talented teams we’ll be playing.”

Williams, the only senior on the roster, played two seasons at Kirkwood Community College, where he was a third-team All-American as a sophomore. As a junior at Wisconsin-Green Bay, he averaged 8.4 points, then played eight games last season before injuring his foot, salvaging his senior season with a medical redshirt.

He’s a slasher with shooting range to the 3-point line. Margenthaler likes his defense and ball distribution, which isn’t always a priority with one-year transfers.

“I think I bring some leadership and experience,” Williams said. “I know a lot about the game so I can help the younger guys. I just want to leave everything on the floor and play hard and bring a lot of energy.”

Williams, who has already graduated and is doing graduate work in educational leadership, will be the Mavericks’ starting power forward on Thursday, teaming with point guard Zach Monaghan, shooting guard Jimmy Whitehead, small forward Gage Wooten and center Assem Marei.

“Defensively, this is our best group, and it’s our most athletic group,” Margenthaler said. “We have 10 guys who will play quite a bit.”

The second rotation includes Jaymeson Moten at point guard, Alex Hanks at shooting guard, Lucas Brown at small forward, Zach Romashko at power forward and Connor O’Brien at center. For now, Margenthaler said, the starters will play four minutes, then the second unit will get four minutes. At that point the starters come back in, and the rest of the game will be managed as game situations dictate.

“Everybody has a different role than last year,” Margenthaler said. “There will be guys who started a lot of games that won’t start this year, and there will be guys who played a lot of minutes who won’t play a lot of minutes this year.

“That’s hard to accept, but as a coaching staff, we’re trying to put the best five guys on the floor who can help us win.”

Williams said the rotations are a work in progress, but he thinks that after a couple of games, roles will become clearer.

“We’ve played a lot together since the summer, but we’re still learning,” he said. “We have a really deep team.”

The Mavericks, who were ranked third in the Northern Sun preseason coaches’ poll, open the regular season Nov. 10 at home against Bethany Lutheran College.

“I’m very excited to get started,” Williams said. “I had to sit out last year with an injury so it’s been a while since I’ve played. I want to do everything I can to help this team.”

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