Former SCU Head Coach and Athletic Director Carroll Williams.
Jan. 16, 2005
By Marques Johnson
Old coaches are like old soldiers. Often they just fade from memory, making way for the next generation of clipboard connoisseurs. Sometimes they leave something behind that ensures they never are forgotten, an indelible imprint on the game that time cannot erase.
Carroll Williams is one such coach. He guided the Santa Clara Broncos for 22 seasons and is the school's career leader in victories. That alone would be a major accomplishment. But his legacy goes far deeper than that. Coach Williams is credited with inventing the flex offense.
If basketball is a metaphor for life, then the principles of the flex are its blueprint for living. Everyone is interchangeable -- the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Understand your limitations, and accentuate your strengths. Learn how to counter whatever challenge is placed in front of you. It is the equal opportunity offense, requiring all five players to execute the fundamentals of the game.
During the 1973-74 season, Williams came up with an offense he called "rigid." Because of his team's youth -- and a brutal schedule -- no shot other than a layup was allowed. It was all about controlling tempo, a structured offense designed to create shots -- primarily with screens and ball movement -- for players who couldn't create their own. As the season progressed and his players matured, he became more "flexible" and allowed his team to shoot jumpers.
Williams retired from coaching in 1992, but he still sees some teams running his creation. The flex is the great equalizer, allowing less talented teams an opportunity not only to compete with more highly regarded opponents but to upset them on occasion.
The flex cut is a staple feature in today's game. It involves a low-post, weakside screen, freeing a teammate to flash across the lane. It is used by college (Gonzaga and Georgia Tech) and pro (Spurs and Sonics) teams. When executed properly, the system is a dazzling display of how the game is meant to be played: hard cuts, solid screening, precision passing and yes, midrange jump shots. Thank you, Carroll Williams.
Marques Johnson is a college basketball analyst for FOX Sports Net.