Malik Williams adapts to post-injury ‘reality’
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Over the past two years, Malik Williams has had some tough times when it comes to injury.
Before the start of the 2019-20 season, the Louisville forward / center developed a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot and had to have a screw inserted. Later that season against Florida State in February 2020, he would also suffer from a sprained upper left ankle.
Due to the possible onset of the COVID-19 pandemic a month later and the lack of access to any form of rehabilitation during his quarantine, scar tissue formed in his ankle which he would continue to treat for. the entire 2020-21 season. .
But even before the start of this season, he had another injury to deal with. Just three weeks before Louisville’s season opener, Williams developed a new fractured right foot. He would only play three games that season, until he made his right foot worse in the Cardinals’ road game at Duke last February.
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound tall man was immediately arrested, allowing him to properly rehabilitate his two lower body injuries. The program took a slow approach with him during the offseason, but he was eventually fully cleared just before the start of the 2021-22 preseason.
Williams says that, about a month into his final season at Louisville, he doesn’t feel any lingering pain from the multitude of injuries he’s suffered. But to say that he has become himself again would not be correct.
“I feel good,” he said on Monday after a brief hiatus, when asked how he felt physically. “Not as comfortable as I hoped, and would like to be, just in terms of the feel and flow of the game. Being able to get the job done consistently and consistently.”
In his own words, Williams says he doesn’t have the ‘pop’ he once had, and it has sometimes manifested on the pitch. While he’s averaging 6.8 points and 9.3 rebounds in the first four games of the season, there have been a plethora of times he doesn’t look a lot like what he did when ‘he was a finalist for the ACC’s sixth man of the year.
For example, several opposing guards this season were able to drive all the way to the rim with ease never seen before when Williams was patrolling the paint. This was especially true against Furman, as Mike Bothwell poured in a 30-point effort en route to upset the Cardinals.
“I think he’s facing a reality that you hate to see a kid his age having to face,” said interim head coach Mike Pegues. “He just doesn’t have the physical prowess, lateral quickness and jumping ability that he once had from his injuries.”
Williams admits it’s been tough from a mental standpoint, knowing that his numerous injuries have limited his abilities on the pitch. But that being said, he’s accepted the challenge he faces and continues to try to find ways to make an impact on the game like he did in his physical heyday.
“Malik has more than enough in the tank to be yet a tough player who can make pivotal plays for us on both sides of the pitch,” said Pegues. “He’s trying to find a way to play really hard in the cover of the ball screen, move around and face the defense, get up to bounce back and play a little over the rim. C It’s a challenge when you’ve had the injuries that it is.
With this being his final year at Louisville, and possibly his last year playing competitive basketball according to what NBA scouts tell him, the senior fifth-year is determined to leave it all behind. on the pitch for the rest of his time as Cardinal.
“It’s over with the month of April, every time it’s all said and done,” he said. “I don’t have this opportunity to come back and play again, so it’s just about trying to give it my all now, and trying to mentally keep myself in it so I can give it my all.”
(Photo by Malik Williams: Jamie Rhodes – USA TODAY Sports)
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