The Byrd Cage

Byrd Cage Exclusive: Interview with TSU Head Coach Travis Williams

In Game Posts on January 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm


After meeting Coach Travis Williams from Tennessee State before the season started, I wanted to put on my old basketball shoes and give him everything I had on the court.  Not that he would have wanted that- because everything I have on the court is not much, but that is who you get with Coach Williams.  Charisma, confidence, and a certain kindness are the overtones of his first impression.  I got to ask him about the win at Murray State last year and being a new head coach in the OVC.


Byrd Cage:  With Isaiah Canaan getting serious media coverage, and now Kerron Johnson getting noticed- how do you feel about a great player like Robert Covington maybe not getting the attention he deserves?”

Coach Williams:   You know, that will take care of itself.  I don’t get into that stuff- whether they get coverage or not.  You look at Robert Covington, when it is all said and done- you will see Covington and [Patrick] Miller getting things done.  They will do what we need to do to take care of business and win basketball games, and run our program the way it is meant to be done.  It was amazing what we got done last year.

BC:  How do you approach that, coming in as a first-year head coach with these established guys, trying to raise the bar?

CW:  I’ve been in the trenches with them, it isn’t like i’m coming from the outside.  I have the heart beat of the team. I recruited some of these guys.  I’ve been with them everyday.  I know their strengths, I know their weaknesses.  I approach it like we are going to continue to get better every day.  Every day is going to be a challenge.  It is sort of like having a target- everyone thinks you are going to be pretty good.  All the publications coming out and we are picked third… you have to approach practice the same every day.  As long as my guys continue to exude defense, no excuses, and being all bought in to what i’m trying to get them to do and understand- THAT’S the DNA.  That’s the DNA.  With that DNA in my mind, everything will take care of itself.  That is my philosophy, that’s what I believe in, and when it is all said and done that is what it is going to come down to.

BC:  What do you think worked for you last year against Murray State in that win?  And can you use that same plan this year for success?

CW:  What worked best is the guys playing hard.  I mean, you’re playing hard, playing hard, playing smart, playing together- with the will to win on every offensive and defensive possession.  And more importantly playing the game with some enthusiasm, some passion- that’s what helps.  You know what i’m saying?  Understand what they are trying to get you to do.  We can play with anybody on any given night.  Murray- Belmont-  They are in our league right?

BC:  Right.

CW:  If i’m not mistaken that is part of being the league, right?

BC:  Right.

CW:  We are in the OVC for a reason.  That’s why we play these guys.  So there is nothing different.  We have a game plan, we stick to the game plan and things will work out.  I truly believe in that.

BC:  Does the game plan change with a Murray State?

CW:  Does the game plan change?

BC:  Obviously, it does with different opponents, but how does it change with an Isaiah Canaan?

CW:  What do you mean?  Does it change just because a number one or two team comes in to play us?

BC:  When you have the caliber of a guy like Isaiah come in, I mean, obviously you don’t want to give away your secrets-

CW: [laughs]

BC:  But, like you said, you have intensity, passion, you can play with anyone any night- but obviously there is something else there that has to happen?

CW:  I just explained to you, I think playing with heart in key moments- you look at the outcomes last year I mean we could pretty much win any game we played.  I think executing the game plan, watching film, watching tape- that’s where you get specific.  But you can’t take playing hard out of the mix. You can’t take diving on the floor for loose balls out of the mix, you can’t take contesting all shots, containing dribble penetration, boxing out- that’s the DNA.  Defense.  Defense.  Defense will win championships.  You’ve gotta play smart.  You can’t let them run up and down the court doing crazy stuff- we’ll play smart within the team concept of what we are trying to do.  We will still play our style of play.  Get up and down the court, we’ll attack in transition, we’ll still shoot three pointers, we’ll establish the inside.  

We will play the way we play.


Coach Williams and his game plan comes to Belmont tomorrow night.  Tip-off is at 7 p.m.  BE THERE.

  1. […] Lauded by the staff at the Cage as probably the most talented team top to bottom in the Valley, the Tigers will cause plenty of problems for the Bruins. State boasts 4 double-digit scorers, a potential NBA player in Robert Covington, and the most intense coach in the OVC (Just ask our own Bert Reynolds (pronounced bUrt), who almost shat his pants while interviewing Coach Williams at OVC media days). […]

  2. This was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

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