With one week remaining in the regular-season schedule and the SEC Tournament looming, it’s finally starting to sink in for Ronni Williams that her, four-year journey at Florida is coming to an end.
The senior forward from Daytona Beach has etched her name throughout UF’s record books, ranking in the top 15 all-time in points, rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage.
Once one of the top high school prospects in the country, Williams has lived up to her five-star rating. Now, as the Gators prepare for their last two games of conference play, she is trying to cope with the fact that her collegiate career is almost finished.
“It’s hitting me,” Williams said. “I’m realizing that the season is slowly coming to an end. It’s bittersweet… but I have to stay focused.”
That focus will be imperative for Florida tonight when it takes the floor against Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.
UF (13-14, 4-10 SEC) is looking to build any momentum it can heading into the SEC Tournament next week, currently sitting in third to last in the conference standings.
The Gators lost to the Volunteers (17-10, 8-6 SEC) in January, 84-75, in Gainesville after Tennessee junior guard Diamond DeShields tallied 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor.
UT also knocked down seven three-point field goals and recorded 34 points in the paint, leading Williams to emphasize the importance of continuity on the defensive side of the ball.
“Last time, I don’t believe we followed every part of our game plan,” she said. “Whatever defense we play, whether it’s man or zone, we’ve just got to come out and do it the way we know how to.”
DeShields, a projected top-three pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, is questionable to play in tonight’s rematch after suffering a neck injury on Thursday against Alabama that required her to be taken off the floor on a stretcher.
Regardless, coach Amanda Butler and her staff aren’t underestimating Tennessee.
The Volunteers are 12-3 at home this season and still boast other talented players in redshirt junior center Mercedes Russell and junior guard Jaime Nared, who both scored in double figures against Florida on Jan. 26.
“It’s one of the toughest places in the country to play,” Butler said. “But we look forward to the challenge.
UF forward Ronni Williams dribbles the ball during Florida's 102-51 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 28, 2016, in the O'Connell Center.