Sixers guard Lou Williams gets the point

Point guard Lou Williams says his role on the team is 'stay aggressive, attack the rim.'
Point guard Lou Williams says his role on the team is 'stay aggressive, attack the rim.'
Posted: October 28, 2009

The kid - and, yes, at 23, he's still a kid - has played in 252 games in four seasons with the 76ers.

He has been on the court for 4,615 minutes.

He has been out there lots of times at the end of games.

But never at the start.

Until tonight.

"I've played it in my head a couple of times - I've played the game already," Lou Williams was saying, celebrating his birthday and looking ahead to being a starting guard for the first time when the 76ers open their NBA season tonight in Orlando.

But he is very clear on how he intends to approach his long-awaited assignment: He has no intention of trying to replace Andre Miller, last season's starter.

"We have this team book, and everybody has a role in the book," Williams said after practice yesterday at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "My role is, 'Stay aggressive, attack the rim.' It doesn't say, 'Dribble, dribble, dribble, pass, pass, pass.'

"I understand I have to keep things organized, but as far as trying to replace Andre Miller, it's not going to happen."

Miller left in free agency, moving to the Portland Trail Blazers. Williams, who came to the Sixers directly out of South Gwinnett High School in Georgia, moved into a reconfigured two-guard front, part of the Princeton offense that has become a trademark of new coach Eddie Jordan.

Miller was the quarterback, the one talking to teammates as they came out of timeout huddles, positioning them on the floor in the midst of halfcourt sets, making the most of his vast basketball IQ. Williams sees his new role as being part of "a five-guy offense, which is great."

"It's not one guy trying to go up there and make plays for everybody else," he said. "It gives five guys an opportunity to make plays."

Jordan laughingly said, "I'll have a trash can at the door if he needs to cough up before he goes out on the floor; I'll make sure I have that in my scouting report."

No need. Williams will be anything but nervous, even though - three games in the NBA Development League notwithstanding - tonight will be his first start since the McDonald's All-American Game in South Bend, Ind. As a high school senior.

Williams will be in a backcourt with Andre Iguodala, working with forwards Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand and center Samuel Dalembert. The guards will be the primary ones initiating the read-and-react, pass-and-cut offense pieced together by legendary Princeton coaches Bill van Breda Kolff and Pete Carril and refined by various NBA coaches, most recently Jordan.

"I think [Williams] is going to have a lot of fun with it," Jordan said. "I think he's going to enjoy it; he feels a lot of responsibility. We had a small talk [Monday], and I said, 'Lou, it's my responsibility - you go out there and play.' It's equal distribution of responsibility as far as guards are concerned and as far as forwards are concerned. Andre and Royal [Ivey] and Jrue Holiday and Rodney Carney have as much responsibility to do all the things Lou's supposed to do. So nothing is on his shoulders but to have fun and play hard . . .

"It's a new way of playing. It's not like he's stepping in to the offense they ran last year, or that he has to take over the exact same responsibility of the old point guard. Everything's new. The main difference is, starters know they have a little bit of room for error. He'll make some mistakes, [but] he won't have to worry about it."

Jordan insisted he will be as patient as he has to be.

"I'm a patient man," the new coach said. "I understand what patience is. Patience is when you hold on and hold on when everybody wants to give up on you. Then, you've got to hold on more, for longer. You have to hold on by your fingernails. It's all about teaching and massaging the situation."

After four seasons, 252 games and 4,615 minutes, Williams is - finally - a starter.

"We were talking about it the other day," he said. "I said I was naive enough to come in thinking I was going to be a starter [as a rookie] and be this superstar that I was in high school. Five years later, I'm still grateful for the opportunity." *

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