After going down with what appeared to be a devastating ankle injury late in the second half, Stetson men’s basketball senior Willie Green showed resilience in returning to the game to rally his team to a home court victory against ETSU.
With only eight minutes remaining in a close game that saw each team fighting for every ball, Green dove to the floor in an effort to save it from going out of bounds on the Hatters. Amidst the scramble, Green was injured and had to leave the floor. With no indication of how severe his injury was, the Hatters appeared to be facing the final minutes of the game without their leading scorer.
However, Green had other plans. He returned to the court only a minute later, scoring several key baskets, including a jump hook in the lane on his very first possession back, to help the Hatters win the game.
“Willie is the one guy that we have on our basketball team that we can throw it to that we feel like can get some points for us,” Head Coach Corey Williams said of Green. “We need him in the basketball game. He’s athletic. He can block shots. He can change shots when guards get to the rim. And for him to get back in the ball game shows a lot of character. It says a lot about who he is as a person and how much he’s grown this year as a basketball player.”
In the last seven minutes, the Hatters outscored the Buccaneers 16 to 9 to win the game 64-58. During the run, Green scored six points and had one assist. His final basket of the night came as a layup off an assist from junior Kentwan Smith, which gave the Hatters their final lead. Despite the offensive effort, Green claimed it was the Hatters’ defense that made the difference.
“I think that momentum really started on defense with the stops,” Green said. “That allowed us to take the lead and keep the lead. And we made those big plays down the stretch that allowed us to win this game.”
Along with his strong performance and determination to overcome an injury, Green demonstrated his leadership as a captain with his team first mentality. He consistently attributed his success to both his teammates and his coaches.
“They fed me a lot in the middle of that zone and that helped me score as well as create shots for my teammates. I think that was a big part of our offense tonight,” Green explained. “In the stretch, in the end, I got the ball in the post a couple times and made some big plays so I really credit it to my coach and my teammates for giving me the ball and running great plays.”
Green finished the game with a team high of 15 points and four blocks. He also contributed five assists and four rebounds. This season Green leads the Atlantic Sun Conference in home contests with an average of 18.7 points per game.