Though they probably won’t ever be praised by Dick Vitale or have a game that is highlighted in the box score, forward Matt Williams and guard Darien Chavis bring something special to CSU’s men’s basketball team, something that cannot be measured simply with numbers.
“They are energy guys who go nonstop,” said senior and team leader Brian Greene. “They work hard day in and day out and it shows when they play.”
For Williams, a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Temple, Tex., the transition from being a prep district MVP while at Temple High School as a junior and senior to being a sub on a Division-I basketball team was not too difficult.
Williams came to Fort Collins with the intent to play and play often on a young team and his work ethic helped him reach that goal. Though not a starter at first, Williams worked his way up head coach Dale Layer’s rotation and finished last season starting in 10 games while averaging six points and 3.9 rebounds per game (sixth-best rebound average for a freshman in school history).
Though his power on the boards got the fans attention, it was his work ethic and physical defense in the post that garnered him a prominent role on the team late in the 2001-02 season.
In this, his second season as a Ram, Williams hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down as increased minutes have allowed him to increase his average points per game (7.7), rebounds (4.0) and blocks (12 in 22 games).
Apart from improving his numbers this season, Williams said he also understands his role on the team better than in 2001-02.
“Coach has told me that he wants me to come in and attack,” Williams said. “He has made it clear that it’s my job to attack and get the rebound.”
While Williams has brought energy to the post this season, Chavis has brought an equal amount of energy to the frontcourt.
As a transfer from Kansas City Community College, the 5-11 guard from Philadelphia has managed to make the transition from junior college to Division-I while playing some quality minutes in the process.
As part of a three-man rotation at guard, Chavis said he knows and understands his role on the team as a defensive specialist.
“My job is to come in and change the tempo of the game,” Chavis said. “I’m a good defensive player, so I cause havoc for the opposing team and make sure they’re not able to get into a rhythm.”
Though playing in a crowded backcourt would be difficult for some, Chavis said he relishes the opportunity to play alongside two other capable guards like freshman Michael Morris and junior Derrick Stevens.
“There is never pressure on me in a game, with two other guards ready to come in and do their thing,” he said. “We’re all just as good as each other and push each other along in practice and in the game.”
Much like Williams, Chavis was an all-star as a prep athlete at Carver High School in Philadelphia, where he set the school’s career scoring record – previously owned by his brother, William, who plays on Texas Tech’s basketball team – and was named to the all-city squad as a senior.
According to teammates it’s not just in games where the unheralded subs work and hustle, but in practice too.
“Practice is always intense,” Williams said. “When focusing on the upcoming game we work different sets in the post preparing for our opponent. It’s the best way to prepare for a game.”
With nearly a week to prepare, it’s not hard to imagine that the two supersubs will be ready to play Saturday in Colorado Springs against the Air Force Academy in a game the faltering Rams desperately need to win to avoid falling out of contention in the Mountain West Conference.
“I think we have matured as a whole team over the past few weeks,” Williams said. “We’re ready to take our show back on the road. We just have to focus on what we have to do.”
Added Chavis: “It’s time for us to get back on track.”