The Captain's Journal: Courtney Williams
Courtney Williams doesn’t get what all the fuss is about.
Everyone warned her that being a captain would be stressful, taxing. But she’s been “smooth” throughout the entire process. Does someone who wears shades inside on Draft Day seem disturbed?
Didn’t think so.
The collected Captain Court — or should I say GM Court — isn’t this cool by chance. She put in the time to be ready to make those 10 picks.
“I thought I would meet with her in the morning for the draft,” Pokey Chatman, Williams’ facilitator for the week, said. “But she said, ‘Nope! I’ll meet you downstairs in the lobby.’ This is about 11:15,” Chatman emphasized, “P.M.”
When Chatman got there, Williams was organized. She had a depth chart on hand. Even a practice plan was in place for the team she hadn’t drafted yet.
Williams knew what she wanted sitting in the blue chair, ready to select her team: experience.
“Everybody is coming with different sets, different plays, different defensive schemes. So I wanted players that I knew would just catch on right away,” Williams explained.
There were some key picks that gave the captain the veteran mentality she was seeking.
Forward Theresa Plaisance has nine years under her belt in the WNBA and, most recently, a 2022 title with the Las Vegas Aces in her resume. Guard Layshia Clarendon also has nine years in the league and international experience with Team USA in their repertoire. (Clarendon alternately uses they, she, and he pronouns.) Then you have Isabelle Harrison, who Williams competed with multiple weeks last season. Harrison was a top-four finisher on the leaderboard and Defensive Player of the Year.
The squad was assembled.
Practice with Williams’ crew was a balance of pushing themselves hard enough to get game-ready, having fun and establishing chemistry on the floor.
That could probably be easily summarized with a common phrase from the captain, “Let’s get after it.”
Monday was dedicated to getting up and down to get their conditioning right because it still gave the team three full days to recover. Williams described it as similar to the first day of training camp. The next two days were largely committed “to [figuring] out that flow of us playing with each other.”
Williams may reject the idea of her being a coach — according to her she’s too impatient — but Chatman sees how she goes beyond just managing her team.
“To me, it’s her teaching points once she gets the captain’s stuff out of the way,” Chatman praised. “When you come to practice [she’s] talking to younger players or people at different positions. She understands the totality of the game, not just her position.”
The 2023 season of Athletes Unlimited Basketball opened up with Team Sims vs. Team Williams. Season openers are usually exciting but this game turned out to be an overtime thriller.
The Blue squad held the lead most of the game, at one point by 11, but Team Sims went on a 7-2 run to start the fourth quarter and then surged on a 25-12 run to pull ahead.
After falling behind by as many as 11, Team Sims made a charge in the fourth quarter and got back into the game by using scoring runs of 7-2 to start the final period and a 25-12 later in the quarter to take a two-point lead late in the game. Regulation tied at 86 all.
Williams scored six of her team’s 10 points in overtime to help them to a 96-93 win over Team Orange. And those vets that Williams built her team around? They came through. Harrison led the team with 23 points, while Plaisance had 18 points, and Clarendon had 10.
After the game, Williams said her biggest takeaway about this team is their resilience.
“They came back and they went on a nice run. We went into overtime but we didn’t put our heads down. We kept playing and we came out with the win.”
Stat sheet in hand, Williams said what stood out to her about the team on paper were boards and free throws. They out-rebounded Team Orange 55-44 and hit 10 out of 11 free throws – crucial in a game won by just a handful of points.
What might be most drastic and impressive on the final box score is a tiny statistic, usually in the bottom right corner. It’s the bench production of both teams.
Team Blue’s bench: 33. Team Orange’s bench: 0.
That wasn’t lost on the captain. It was that aspect of her team she spoke most excitedly about.
“This just shows it’s not just about your starting five,” Williams said. “You need people that’s gonna come in and when they come in it doesn’t lower the momentum… our bench was huge for us.”
Williams starts the weekend and her first-ever captainship with a dub. Next on the schedule is Team Cloud at 8:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday.
So long as you don’t call her coach, you can call her GM Court from here on out.
Savanna Collins is the Digital Media Reporter at Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her on Twitter @savannaecollins.
Recap: Harrison, Plaisance lead Team Williams in OT victory
WNBA League Pass to broadcast 2023 Athletes Unlimited Basketball Season
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