A positive attitude fuels Williams' rise

Published: Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2005 at 12:54 a.m.
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Tamia Williams is averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds.

DAVID MASSEY/The Gainesville Sun
Tamia Williams came to Florida as a wiry, 6-foot guard with a wicked jump shot. She figured if she put on some muscle and gained some experience, her time would come.
But she never imagined she'd have to wait until midway through her senior season to finally shine. But that's exactly what has happened. Williams has gone from sub to stardom at Florida, a transformation that has taught her a lesson.
"I've learned that if you continue to work hard and have patience, good things will come to you," she said.
And they have come in large doses this season for Williams. The reigning SEC co-Player of the Week is averaging 15.8 points per game since stepping into the starting lineup for injured guard Danielle Santos on Dec. 21. She's averaging 22.5 points in her first two SEC games heading into tonight's 6:30 contest against No. 3 LSU in the O'Connell Center.
After years of waiting, Williams is showing everyone where she really belongs. On the court.
"The two previous years for Tamia have been very frustrating because she was not playing the amount of minutes she would have liked," coach Carolyn Peck said. "This is her opportunity now."
Williams has kept faith in herself - and Peck - through it all. After playing in 29 games her freshmen season for then-coach Carol Ross, Williams saw her minutes decrease after Peck took over in the 2002-03 season.
Williams worked hard in practice and in the weight room, but had serious doubts about whether her chance to play would ever come.
"I can't stand here and say that I didn't doubt it," Williams said. "I was always confident in myself. But going through ups and downs as a freshman, sophomore, junior ... it's just been a long road."
Along her journey were some long talks with Peck about her playing time, discussions that left Williams putting all her trust in Peck.
"I talked to coach Peck about it and she encouraged me to keep working hard and told me my time would come," Williams said. "I just trusted her."
Under Peck, Williams averaged just 16.2 minutes per game in '02-'03 when she shot 35.2 percent from 3-point range. Last year her minutes decreased to just 7.3 per game with the emergence of junior college transfer Tashia Morehead. She began this season on the bench, albeit as one of the Gators top subs.
"I could have been sulking and pouting since I wasn't starting," Williams said.
But she didn't. Instead, she kept working hard and maintaining a positive outlook.
"I think she was waiting patiently," junior Bernice Mosby said. "Tamia is a believer in God. I think she was praying and praying and working hard every day. An opportunity came and now she's taking advantage of it."
Williams' chance came last month when Santos suffered a stress fracture in her foot in a Dec. 19 game at Baylor. Two days later against Richmond, Williams made her first start of the season - and just the 11th of her career - in place of Santos. Since then, Williams is averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in six starts. She's also made 43.2 percent of her 3-point attempts in that span. The Gators have gone 5-1 with her in the starting lineup. But for Williams, Santos' injury has been a bittersweet way for her to showcase her talent.
"It's sad that I had to step into the spotlight while she was down but she knows I'm a team player," Williams said. "I was encouraging her when she was out there and now she's supporting me 100 percent."
That included Sunday when Williams scored 10 of her 22 points in the final five minutes to help Florida hold off Auburn, 67-60.
"Tamia is doing a phenomenal job for us," junior Brittany Davis said. "She's stepping up big time."
Count Williams' teammates among those who have embraced her recent success. When Williams was named the SEC's co-Player of the Week Monday, the Gators smothered her with embraces and congratulations.
"I was more excited about how excited my teammates were," Williams said. "They were more excited than I was. They were so embraceful, and they were encouraging me and they were congratulating me. And I felt so good inside to know that they were really supporting me."
You can reach Brandon Zimmerman by calling 374-5051 or at zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

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