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Q&A: Stetson coach Corey Williams welcomes responsibility as a leader

Williams is changing the culture at Stetson.

Coach Corey Williams addressing the media.

Corey Williams has wanted to mold young men through coaching since his playing days ended. His philosophy is simple: "If you’re not willing to take that responsibility, then you don’t need to be a coach".

Williams, entering his fourth season, brought Stetson to within a basket of upending Florida Gulf Coast on its home court in the Atlantic Sun final last year. Now, he’s looking for more.

Q: As a player having tasted postseason success, how does that prepare you as coach?

A: I think it just makes you more competitive in wanting to get to that level. You can draw off your past experiences and reflect on the hard work it took you to get to that point. You try to share that with your team and hope they understand and see the picture you’re trying to portray to them so they go out and play accordingly.

Q: You were drafted in the 12th Round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. At that time you had not played since junior high school. What brought that about?

A: Marty Schottenheimer was a Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan. One of the games he watched was Oklahoma State against Kansas. Somehow, my name had come up and he came to watch me in college, and it evolved from there. They knew I was pretty quick from what they could see. I weighed about 185 pounds. One thing they did not know at that particular time was how fast I was. Once I got to Kansas City, they clocked me at 4.28 in the 40-yard dash.

Q: Did you ever seriously consider suiting up for them?

A: You know what, if they had offered me a contract, I probably would have accepted just because I was in a position to just wait and see where I would be drafted in the NBA, so they were worried that I would go play in the NBA. Little did they know that if they had offered me a contract, my whole professional career could have been totally different.

Q: You were drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the 2nd Round of the 1992 NBA Draft. What was it like playing with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on a championship team?

A: It was like a dream come true. When you’ve seen these guys on television for a period of your life, I don’t want to say your worship them, but you somewhat idolize and want to be like them, and all of a sudden you’re playing on a basketball team with your favorite basketball player ever, Michael Jordan, Some people don’t like going to work, I really looked forward to practice everyday because I got to sometimes guard the best player in the country and world and compete for championships. It was exciting and humbling.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to coach when your playing days were done?

A: I did. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do because I think the best thing for guys who played basketball in college and professionally is coaching, because it keeps you in the game. You don’t have to move like you once did, but you still have a part you can play.

Q: You started your career at Oral Roberts University. What led you there?

A: When the job came open, Coach Scott Sutton called me first and asked if I would be interested and I said yes. I interviewed for the job and before I left the job was mine.

Q: You recruited Caleb Green and Ken Tutt while you were at ORU, as a coach what kind of values are you looking for?

A: I think sometimes when we use the value word, we all want a kid that does it right all the time, but that’s just not the case. What I’ve learned is if someone gave up on me, then I wouldn’t be where I am today. People can change. So what I try to do is look at their background, see what their family is all about and then make an educated guess that they will be or won’t be right for my basketball team. I try to do my homework, but it’s still possible to miss something.

I like kids who work hard and want something in life. Not that they have to be perfect, that’s not what I’m looking for, but they have to have good values. They have to be somebody I think I can reach. Some are more challenging then others, but I have to feel like I can reach them.

Q: How much pressure is that on you know that these kids are looking at you for that all the time?

A: I would suggest to anyone that wants be in college coaching, if you’re not willing to take that responsibility, then you don’t need to be a coach. That is pressure that you have to embrace, that you have to want. For me when it comes to kids, education and helping kids is something I feel strong about and that is a very strong part of the picture I am trying to present as part of the Stetson men’s basketball program. It’s not just a basketball program that’s on the rise, or may be of significance, but it’s a basketball program that changes lives. It changes boys to men when they leave here.

Q: What specifically at Stetson excited you?

A: I think the opportunity and knowing that it was a unique challenge with the academics required to get into school, and the conference itself. I believed it was comparable to the situation at Oral Roberts, and I just felt like it was a great opportunity here. I wanted to come in and have a chance to change the culture here and change the men’s basketball program for generations to come. I felt like I had a President and Athletic Director that believe in basketball.

Q: What is your philosophy on scheduling in the non-conference?

A: I want a balanced non-conference schedule. You have to know your team. I can’t go out and play 10 high-major teams when my team is not a high major. We have to have a chance to be successful. What I don’t want to do is have a schedule that beats my guys down and have them discouraged.

Q: You’ve really set out to upgrade the talent on the roster and played a lot of young players. What are you looking forward to seeing in the fall?

A: This is a group of guys that believe in each other. I want to take the last part of this past season and start off that way at the beginning to make the team that much stronger. So how do we do that? Go back and reflect on your past season, and you try to draw from some things you did that were successfully. I think they’re hungry. We were right there, to lose to Florida Gulf Coast in overtime, at Gulf Coast. I would hope they come back hungry, trying to find a way to break that ceiling and give us a chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament. For me right now, I’m just thinking about them getting better.