With Eckerd visiting the Health & Sports Center for Saturday's 4 p.m. Sunshine State Conference game, Barry University has no room to take days off at this point.
"I think it's like a must win," said Williams, who hails from the Southwest side of Chicago. "It's our last games of the season right now, and we've got to stay focused and stay ready. It's another conference game, another way to keep (climbing) the ladder for the conference championships."
Saturday's game, which will be broadcast on the Buccaneer Broadcasting Network with Danny Rabinowitz on the call, carries SSC positioning implications. Barry (16-5, 6-5 SSC) has a one-game lead on Eckerd (13-10, 5-6) in the league race. The Bucs, who occupy fifth place in the SSC, trail Saint Leo and Tampa by a game in the league standings.
The SSC Championships will be held March 5-9 at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla. All nine teams in the league advance to the conference tournament.
This is the first of three straight home games as the regular season dwindles down. The Buccaneers will host Nova Southeastern Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on Student-Athlete Academic Recognition Day before closing the home portion of the schedule on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. against Rollins on Senior Day to culminate Homecoming Week. In between the women's and men's games on Feb. 22, Barry University will hold a special presentation for the Make-A-Wish Foundation around 5:30 p.m.
Barry, which has a 22-40 overall record against Eckerd all-time, won the first game in the season series in St. Petersburg, 68-65, on Jan. 18. Gonzalez, Savad Garner and Yunio Barrueta each scored 12 points in that win. Eckerd's Ray Darnell had 19 points, Jerrick Stevenson 13 and E.J. Moody 12. Malcolm Brunner Jr. grabbed 10 rebounds, and Alex Bodney scored nine. But the Tritons have gotten a lift since with the return of Josh Snodgrass, a senior guard who's averaging 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16 games.
The Bucs, who've leaned on their starting cast most of the year, realize to continue winning, it will require more bench production. That's where Gonzalez, Williams, senior Garrett Naughton, freshman Alvaro Simoza and junior Nico Ostbye come into play.
"We just try to come into the game ready to produce, help the seniors, the juniors, help the starters out," Gonzalez said. "I know they can't carry all the load. We just try to come in prepared, come in focused and try to produce on the floor."
Barry's bench outscored Palm Beach Atlantic Wednesday after getting outproduced the previous two games. This year, the Bucs' bench has outscored its opponents in 13 of the 21 games. When the Bucs reserves have their 'A' game going, it usually spells good results.
"It's a big boost off the bench, energy wise," Williams said. "Adrian's so reliable going to the rim, and my ability to shoot the long-range shots, it's a good combination off the bench, so we keep the energy flowing for our team."
How long that flow goes will play a role in how far this team goes.
"We know we're important to this team," Gonzalez said. "We've showed everybody with the way we produce off the bench and the way we play."
MAKE-A-WISH: Barry will host a special event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation between the women’s and men’s games vs. Rollins Sat. Feb. 22 ... Make-A-Wish is an NCAA Division II fundraising initiative ... Barry is trying to raise $15,000 to grant a few area kids with severe medical conditions wishes ... To donate to the cause, call 305-899-4823.
SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE TICKETS: To order tickets to the men's and women's Sunshine State Conference Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla., March 5-9, call 305-899-4823. Check out the SSC Championship Central page.