Ronni Williams is no stranger to being the center of attention.
She was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of Port Orange’s Atlantic High. She was also named the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Girl’s Basketball Player of the Year all four years of high school and was ranked as the No. 13-overall recruit in the 2013 class by ESPN.
When she got to Florida, the 6-foot forward made an immediate impact by being the team’s second-best rebounder and fifth-leading scorer as a freshman.
As a sophomore, she stepped up even more, leading the team in scoring with 10.3 points per game.
And now, as a junior, Williams once again leads the team in scoring, now with 11 points per game. Although according to head coach Amanda Butler, her offensive output this year and in years’ past is the direct result of her dominance in another statistical category.
“I think her rebounding is really what gives her energy,” she said.
While Florida is a team that has relied on its depth to win games, Williams manages to stand out in games in which that depth fails.
In Sunday’s loss to Georgia, for example, Williams thrived by scoring 18 points while the rest of UF’s normally potent offense struggled.
It’s been a common theme to see her name at the top of the scoreboard on such nights, and Butler credits her commitment to getting better at moving without the ball in addition to her rebounding.
“That’s a part of her game that’s really starting to develop, and it’s really important,” Butler said.
But while Williams can take over a game with stat lines like 20 points and 15 rebounds, she doesn’t have the star-power to single-handedly lead the Gators to wins. Florida just isn’t built like that.
So, despite Williams’ recent success, it’s been concerning for Butler to see her offense struggle. Against Georgia, a game in which UF scored close to 17 points below its average, she pointed to the Bulldogs’ defense as the reason behind the poor offensive showing.
“They’re the best defensive team in our league,” she said. They’ve had a lot of team’s number with their defense and they’re just very good at it.”
But in addition to crediting Georgia’s talented defense, Butler also felt UF needs to improve in certain areas.
“We took the bait a couple of times and didn’t knock down big shots. We didn’t shoot the ball well either,” she said. “I think we took terrible threes, and we didn’t shoot the ball like I know we’re capable of.”
As for how to address that problem, Butler didn’t feel the answer was more reps or just waiting for some shots to fall. Instead, she believes it’s all mental.
“I don’t really believe too much in good luck or bad luck,” Butler said. “Confidence is either your most powerful weapon or it can be something that brings you to your knees if yours is shaken.”
Florida is currently on a stretch in which it’s lost three of its last four games. In those losses, UF has had at least three double-figure scorers only once.
In the lone win over that span, the Gators had five players put up double digits.
As Butler has said all season, balance is key with this team. And moving forward into the two remaining regular-season games, she is confident her team can get back to its balanced identity.
“That’s what I expected our team to do is to really believe in who they are individually and collectively and get ready for a really, really confident LSU team on their home court,” Butler said.