If Allen Williams earns a permanent starting spot on the Suncoast Sunblasters, chalk it up to the power of home cooking. "I have kind of an advantage," he said. "After the game, most of the other guys go out to Burger King or McDonalds. I get to go home. You know, rice, beans, pork chops _ all the good stuff."
So far, the 6-1, 175 pound Clearwater High alumnus hasn't started a game _ Luther Burks and Jose Slaughter open at guard for Suncoast _ but he has made an impact coming off the bench. In the season-opener against the Miami Tropics, Williams scored 14 points, including eight straight. Against the Atlanta Eagles on Saturday, he came up with two fast-break shots to help preserve a late lead.
It's a good start, said Suncoast coach Curtis Pickering, but there still is a lot more to do.
"He has a lot of desire, and he's fearless," said Pickering. "But at the same time, he is a rookie, and we are working to try to get him to be more of a quarterback on the floor."
Williams is fresh off a banner season at North Alabama, where he led the team to a NCAA Division II championship. He is still getting used to the faster-paced pro game, he said.
"It's been a big adjustment," said Williams. "It isn't that much of a physical thing for me, because I know I can play. The main thing has been adjusting mentally. In college you could take your time and look over things. Here they have the shot clock, and you aren't so much thinking, but going on instinct.
"But I'm not in a hurry. You can't jump up to the top of the ladder right from the beginning."
Reinforcements: The Sunblasters are still trying to find their strengths, said Pickering. Getting Larry Spriggs into the orange and blue could help bring at least one into focus.
The 6-8, 230-pound Spriggs played for the Lakers from 1983-86, earning a championship ring in 1985. In his last season he averaged five points with 81 rebounds in 43 games. In the 84-85 playoffs he averaged 6.1 points and just over three rebounds a game. In the 1985-86 playoffs he averaged 6.7 points and seven rebounds per game.
The Sunblasters _ who have been trying so sign him since the preseason _ are hoping to see him today. It looks promising, said Pickering, but nothing is definite.
Spriggs will provide an inside complement to post man Keith Lee. Up until now, Lee has been forced to play a power game, which is an adjustment for someone who can hit the jumper at 6-10, his coach said. If Spriggs _ a power player _ joins him down low, Lee will get a chance to play his game.
"All I have to say is, once Larry Spriggs gets here, watch Keith Lee," Pickering said.
Stats n' stuff: Luther Burks is averaging 20 points a game, and Jose Slaughter is averaging 17 points a game. Ilo Motumbo is the team's leading rebounder with nine per game. UT's Nate Johnston leads the team in blocked shots with 11.
The Sunblasters 1-3, play back-to-back home games this weekend. Friday they play Atlanta, then Jacksonville Hooters Saturday. Both games are at Clearwater Central Catholic at 7:30.