The Arizona Wildcats plan to increase Brandon Williams’ workload against the Oregon schools this week, head coach Sean Miller said Monday on his weekly radio show.
The Wildcats feel comfortable doing so because the freshman guard (knee) returned from a six-game absence Sunday against Stanford and felt “really good” after playing 18 minutes off the bench.
“It was something that he was able to handle easily and that gives us the green light to continue to move forward the rest of this week,” Miller said.
Miller hopes Williams can play 20 to 24 minutes against the Oregon State Beavers on Thursday, moving him closer to his season average of 29.4.
“We still have a few days before we get to our Oregon State game and I’m assuming that everything will go smoothly and we’ll have some really good practices that Brandon will feel good,” Miller said. “And if that’s the case, I think that’s the plan.”
Williams had four points and three assists against Stanford, providing a boost in the painless 70-54 win. Miller said Williams’ ability to score and distribute “puts everybody in a better light.”
“All of our guys missed Brandon because the style that Brandon Williams plays is one that he’s a playmaker, so he gets fouled, he finds you for open shots,” Miller said Sunday after the win vs. Stanford. “In transition, he can both score and make the pass and then obviously he can be a double-figure scorer for us. The other part you feel, especially me, is just you can really wear down through a 40-minute game.
“I mean in the Pac-12 when you’re playing two games in three days on these trips it’s nice to have depth. It’s nice to have quality depth so that when you sub there’s not a drop off and we’re a deeper team all the way around with Brandon. So knock on wood for his sake and for our sake that we can keep growing him, building him so that at some point not only is he back but he returns to the role that he had before he left.”
Williams is Arizona’s second-leading scorer (11.7 ppg) and assister (3.7 apg), so having him in the lineup will greatly help UA’s chances of making some noise in the Pac-12 Tournament next month.
The Wildcats are 15-7 this season when Williams plays and 1-5 when he does not.
“We’ve needed that over the last three weeks, four weeks without him and hopefully we can have him from right now to the finish line,” Miller said.