Zed Williams Defense Haudenosaunee
Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi.

Why Zed Williams is Playing Defense for the Haudenosaunee in the World Championships

By Adam Lamberti

Jun 23, 2023

Zed Williams is one of the best attackmen in the world.

The MVP of the 2020 Championship Series, Williams terrorizes the league with physical dodging, pinpoint accuracy, and a creative flare.

During the World Games, Williams will be playing for the Haudenosaunee National Team as one of the top players in the tournament.

Only one difference: Zed Williams will be playing defense this week.

While they are loaded on the offensive end, the Haudenosaunee lack the defensive depth that other teams have, hence the Williams transition.

I caught up with Haudenosaunee Head Coach Lars Tiffany to discuss the role change for Zed Williams.

Out of all the offensive players you could’ve converted to defense, why choose Zed Williams?

“The answer to that question really starts with and ends with Zed. This is something that he really wanted to do. He approached us with this idea, and so as a coach, you start thinking, “Is this crazy? We're gonna take one of the best in the world and put him from a position of experience and strength, to inexperience and filled with questions?” And the answer is yes when the man is asking to do this. Now, a better question is why?

Well, why does Zed want to play defense?

“[Zed] told me playing defense is something he's always wanted to try. It’s a new venture for him and it's an opportunity for him to play the game that he loves and see it from the other side so he can truly embrace more and more of the lessons and beauty of this game. The second piece of this is that Zed is very insightful. He understands we have a need for men to pick up the six-foot stick and play defense, and he doesn't need to do it to earn more playing time as we all know… to me, it all makes sense in the big picture and why Zed is doing this because of who Zed Williams is himself.”

How has the transition been for Williams leading up to the World Games?

“Zed certainly seems to handle the ball at a high level, which is not surprising. When he's in transition, he is very comfortable. His strengths for us are the one-on-one matchup versus the bulls. You know, that version of himself on offense or Matt Rambo for example. That is the matchup that Zed Williams with the six-foot pole is perfectly suited for. Where Zed needs more growth and experiences is when he's playing off-ball and now he's more of a communicator and a decision maker of when to slide and when not to slide.” 

Could we see a Matt Rambo vs Zed Williams matchup when the two teams meet on Saturday?

“That very well could happen. It was funny, after our scrimmage against Albany, Zed was a bit frustrated because no one dodged him.

And I said, ‘Well, look at you, of course no one dodged you.’

And he said, ‘Well, you know, Rambo and I, we go at our matchups, we challenge our matchups.’

I said, ‘I know, but most people aren’t you and Rambo, but I assure you, when you go against Rambo, I'm sure he's going to continue to be who he is.’

So it will happen for sure.”

Any final thoughts on what to expect from Zed Williams this week?

“He’s going to be offball 83% of the time if the ball is possessed democratically by the opposing team. But, you know, if we can go against the team who's got one stud dodger, then Zed will be on the ball more. If we go against a team that's got multiple dodgers and says, ‘Let's not go get that guy, you know, nobody wants to dodge Zed Williams.’ And he'll be on-ball 5% of the time. So much of his growth and our team's development this week and a half here in San Diego is based on Zed’s growth off-ball.”

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