Friday, December 18, 2009

Chaz already providing quite an assist

Chaz Williams may accomplish something as a freshman that even Speedy Claxton didn't do in four years.

Halil Kanacevic is the reigning CAA Rookie of the Week, but as well as Kanacevic played in the wins over Manhattan and New Hampshire, the most impressive performance by a Flying Dutchmen newcomer last week was the one authored Saturday by Chaz Williams.

The freshman point guard did something no player has done at Hofstra in the 16 years Tom Pecora has been associated with the program by collecting 10 assists with no turnovers. Speedy Claxton came closest to pulling off the feat twice during the 1997-98 season, when he had nine assists and no turnovers against Drexel and 13 assists and one turnover against New Hampshire. Major props to men’s hoops SID Jeremy Kniffin for doing the impressive amount of legwork to discover those facts.

Williams’ performance Saturday marked only the seventh time a player has collected at least 10 assists in a game in Pecora’s nine seasons as head coach. And no one was more efficient in doing so than Williams, who, unlike his predecessors, came off the bench and played just 31 minutes, the fewest of any of the players to rack up double-digit assists. Here’s the list of the six previous 10-assist games under Pecora:

Charles Jenkins: 13 assists/4 turnovers in 48 minutes vs. James Madison, 2/18/09**
Carlos Rivera: 10 assists/3 turnover in 34 minutes vs. St. Francis, 12/22/05
Carlos Rivera: 10 assists/2 turnovers in 46 minutes vs. UNCW, 1/3/07**
Gibran Washington: 12 assists/2 turnovers in 36 minutes vs. St. John’s, 12/2/03
Woody Souffrant: 10 assists/3 turnovers in 40 minutes vs. Delaware. 1/26/02
Woody Souffrant: 10 assists/3 turnovers in 37 minutes vs. Drexel, 12/23/01
**double overtime

This may just be the start of unprecedented feats from Williams, who enters the Holiday Festival with an assist-to-turnover ratio of just shy of 3:1 (41 assists, 14 turnovers). Since Pecora took over as head coach, no player has even produced an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2:1. Carlos Rivera came closest in 2005-06, when he had 117 assists and 60 turnovers (1.95).

The last Hofstra player to have an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2:1 was Jason Hernandez, who had 124 assists and 51 turnovers as a senior in 2000-01 (2.43). Speedy Claxton also had one season with a 2:1 assist-to-turnover as a sophomore in 1997-98, when he had 224 assists and 104 turnovers (2.15).

In addition, the CAA leader last season in assist-to-turnover ratio was Towson’s Brian Morris at 2.11.

That said, the presence of Souffrant on the list of Pecora-era players with 10 assists in a game serves as a cautionary tale. Souffrant was a freshman when he had his 10-assist games and had his first 10-assist performance in his first collegiate start, which further fueled the hype machine that had him pegged as the successor to Claxton and Hernandez.

But after a fast start, Souffrant faded: He started 50 games in his first two years—including all 28 in which he played as a sophomore—and averaged 4.5 assists per contest but made just four starts his last two years, during which he averaged 1.7 assists per game. So while restraint should be exercised with Williams, it’s not too early—a mere 10 games into his career—to wonder just how high a ceiling he possesses.

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