Chris Williams says one of his favorite things to do during his free time is sleep. Between practice, classes and workouts, he just likes to find the time to get some shut-eye. It should come as no surprise, then, that Chris might be Ball State's sleeper this season.
Williams, a 6-3 guard from Oak Park, Ill., transferred from Loyola-Chicago University after the 1999-2000 season. He came to Ball State looking to play for a winner. This year he may be a big reason why the Cardinals become winners. After sitting out a year (an NCAA requirement for transfers), he is ready to stamp his name all over Cardinal basketball.
Chris made a heavy impact on Loyola basketball in his two years there. His freshman year, he was second on the team averaging 10.6 point per contest. He shot 37 percent from behind the arc, and 74 percent from the free throw line. As a sophomore, he posted 10.8 points per game and was selected to the preseason All-MCC team.
After the 2000 season, when Williams was considering a transfer, he received a phone call from Ball State assistant Angres Thorpe.
"Coach Thorpe was my assistant AAU coach when I was younger," Williams said. "So he called me up and said Ball State was interested."
Williams was impressed with Ball State's basketball tradition. He said he loved the fact that the Cardinals have had a winning record for 13 consecutive years and counting.
After finally deciding to wear the red and white Cardinal jersey, Williams had to sit out a season. He could practice with the team, but he could not travel nor could he play in games. But instead of just watching the year fly by from the sidelines, he took advantage of the opportunity and made himself a better player.
"I don't think it was frustrating. It was a time to learn and improve my game," Williams said.
And improve his game he did. Williams worked on refining his skills to make the most of his talent. He also added athleticism, improving his vertical leap by two and a half inches.
"He really worked on his ball handling and conditioning," Ball State head coach Tim Buckley said. "He also got better on the defensive end."
Williams could not wait to get out on the floor for real this season. He showed what he could bring to the table by racking up 24 points in the team's first pre-season game against Marathon.
"Chris Williams can make shots," Buckley said while shaking his head and smiling.
"He can create his own shot and he can also get other people shots."
Not only has Chris taken on a big scoring role, he has also stepped into a leadership position.
"The players respect him," Buckley said. "They respect his game, they respect his work ethic, and most importantly, they respect his confidence."'
"I try to lead by my ways," Williams explained, "not so much vocal all the time."
Chris hopes to lead the team all the way to a MAC championship and an NCAA tournament bid. He is quick to point out, however, that Ball State wants to make its presence felt at the tournament.
"The school has never been past the Sweet 16," he said, "but why can't we do it?"
This is one thing Chris does not want to sleep through.