The only thing about Louisville’s trip to Tallahassee on Monday that might have been more disappointing than the final score was the concern that Malik Williams might be sidelined for a significant period of time.
The junior center who has been playing the best basketball of his career in recent weeks, left the game early in the first half after suffering what appeared to be a fairly serious ankle injury. When he returned to the bench, he did so in tears and with a boot on his left foot.
On Wednesday night, during an appearance as a guest on Chris Mack’s weekly radio show, Williams said that he’s taking things “day by day” but expects to be back on the floor sooner rather than later. He didn’t practice with the team on Wednesday, but he also isn’t ready to rule out being good to go by Sunday’s game against Virginia Tech.
“I am just taking it day-by-day right now and not trying to rush it,” Williams said. “It could be tomorrow when I am ready. I’ll know when it’s time.”
The emotions on display from Williams led many to think that his injury might be one that could keep him out for the rest of the season. Williams said Wednesday that it was merely the product of knowing he wasn’t going to be able to play in such an important game for his team.
“There was just a lot of emotion once they took me out,” Williams said. “The emotions then just kind of took over for me. I wanted to be out there with my guys. But I just had to pull it together and be there for my teammates.”
Before the Florida State game, Williams had scored 11 or more points in five of Louisville’s last six games. The junior captain was spectacular in the team’s 90-66 win over Syracuse, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds despite playing just 23 minutes as the Cardinals coasted to victory.
It’s been fully apparent in recent weeks just how much the end of this season means to Williams and just how much his leadership (and play) means to this team. Here’s hoping that ankle is feeling close to 100 percent by this weekend or next.