Mike Williams making the most of final moments at Rutgers
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Senior guard and captain Mike Williams is the player on the Rutgers men's basketball team who embodies the core values of the program more than anyone on the team, as he is always the hardest worker on the court and will stop at nothing to grab a key rebound, despite often being the shortest player on the floor.
The once highly-criticized guard is now the fan-favorite and is playing the final moments of his career on his home turf at Madison Square Garden.
Williams, a Brooklyn native, has been written about plenty leading up to the Big Ten Tournament, as he returns home to close out his collegiate career in storybook fashion.
But no one expected that story to still be going strong.
After upsetting the No. 11 seed Minnesota in the opening round, the No. 14 seed Scarlet Knights shocked the conference when it upset No. 6 seed Indiana on Thursday night at the World's Most Famous Arena.
And in that game against the Golden Gophers on Wednesday night, Williams made it clear that he was not ready for his career to end.
He was second on the team with his 12 points and grabbed five rebounds. During a timeout in the second half, fans began chanting his name.
"It feels great. I'm very appreciative of the Rutgers faithful," Williams said of the chant. "They stick with us, they've stuck with my whole four years with a lot of ups and downs...I'm just taking to take in every minute of it, try to treasure it. I wanna keep surviving and advancing. I'm not trying to go home yet."
Speaking at the podium after that game, he spoke about how the tournament is wide open and that every team enters with the same record.
The team's motto in the postseason has been "40 gets you 40," meaning that playing 40 minutes of "Rutgers basketball" gets you the opportunity to play 40 more minutes the next night.
"That's been our motto," Williams said. "We came to the tournament. Everybody's 0-0 (to start). We came into that mentality we don't want to go home. I don't want to go home. It's my senior year. I want to keep playing."
With this Big Ten Tournament meaning more to Williams than perhaps anyone in the conference, he has been playing with a huge chip on his shoulder -- as has the entire Knight team.
Williams' career isn't over yet, and he'll keep writing this story as long as he can.
"It feels amazing. That's the only thing I can say. It feels amazing," Williams said after the team's win over the Hoosiers. "We just believe in ourselves. We can't come out sluggish--we kind of did. But we can't die either. This our last go around. It's either win or we go home for good. There's no more chances. I'm just speechless right now."