When “The Microwave” heats up, whoever is supposed to guard her is in trouble.
“First things first, ‘The Microwave’ goes back to the University of Miami. The first time I ever heard about it was through Coach Katie Meier,” said Riquna Williams, a 5’7” guard in the midst of her fourth season with the Los Angeles Sparks.
Coach Meier has known the now 30-year-old Williams since she was a shy teenager from The Muck in Pahokee, Florida. Meier still remembers the first time she ever heard about Williams.
“(The Muck) that’s like legendary around here,” said Coach Meier. “So I heard, there’s a great player coming out of the muck… and women’s basketball players hadn’t really been coming out of Pahokee or Belle Glade like that.”
The Muck, which has a population of less than 25,000 people, is best known for producing at least 70 NFL players, including Anquan Boldin, Fred Taylor, and 2010 NFL Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson.
“I met her and she had two little puffs in her hair, a little cap on her head, really shy and strong looking. I was just amazed. That was my first impression of her,” Meier recalled.
— Katie Meier (@CoachKatieMeier) September 24, 2013
Coach Meier, who is originally from Chicago, may have been the first person to call Williams “The Microwave” but Meier told Winsidr, former Detroit Piston Vinnie Johnson was “100 percent” her inspiration.
Meier said the first time she called Riquna “The Microwave”, she had to explain why the nickname was the ultimate way to compliment her instant offense.
“I had to explain it to her because she didn’t watch the Bulls and Pistons. I was like people will know “The Microwave” because he was unbelievable. I hated him because I was a Chicago Bulls fan. He was so strong and quick. She just really reminded me of him,” Meier continued.
Back to back 3s for Riquna Williams — or as @johnwdavis likes to call her, the "Microwave." Sparks 42, Lynx 34. (8:45 – 3rd.)
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) September 8, 2019
55 POINTS OFF THE BENCH IN HIGH SCHOOL
“There was never a doubt about her ability or how she could get buckets,” Meier said.
Meier recalled the time she saw Williams drop 50+ points off the bench in high school in just three quarters.
“I didn’t think she was playing and then all of a sudden she’s in the game. So I’m watching her and I’m like she probably had 18 points (in the second quarter) and from that point on we started stating her out and she had 55 points in three quarters. That’s when I thought ‘my God’ we’ve got a really special one,” Meier said.
INSIDE THE WUBBLE
Since returning to the bench on August 5, Williams is once again playing carefree basketball.
In fact, she’s the second leading scorer on the Sparks through 11 games and shooting 48 percent from 3.
“I just personally think for some people, being in the Wubble is a really good thing because you don’t have a lot of those outside distractions,” Meier added. “You have a singular focus and she’s in a great headspace right now and that’s really important to her game.”
“She is a very, very good, soulful human being and anyone that gets close to her understands that she’s a very, very good person” Meier added. “Very generous person. Very deep individual, so when things hit her, they hit her very hard. When she can maintain her positivity, she’s amazing.”
“It’s actually been fun,” Williams said. “I think the biggest thing for me was getting back to having fun. Having my incident last year hanging over my head, it definitely took a toll after a while but this year I came in free, nothing hanging over me and able to give my all to the team.”
“Coming off the bench, it’s a great feeling and there’s a lot of joy to it,” Williams said. “Talking with Coach Fisher, LT (Assistant Coach Latricia Trammell), and my teammates, fully understanding that I’m probably best when I’m coming off the bench. I’m able to give more because I don’t have to think as much as I would in the first group.”
“That’s her thing,” added Seimone Augustus. In her 15th year in the WNBA, Augustus knows a thing or two about starting and coming off the bench.
“To be honest, you get a chance to see the flow. That’s what people don’t understand,” Augustus continued. “When you start, you have to create flow, as opposed to coming off the bench, you see where it’s at. You see what’s needed or you see where you can attack and things like that.”
Augustus has been impressed with Williams’ ability to immediately make an impact when her number is called.
“That’s where Riquna has been great at finding out where she can attack,” Augustus added. “She sees what plays we’re running. What defensive schemes the other team is running and so she takes advantage of that as well as using her ability.
Her speed and quickness gets her a lot of open shots, just running the lane and spotting up and letting a player like Candace Parker, who is very tough to defend bring the rock down and dish her and find her in the corner.”
Impressing a four-time WNBA Champion like Augustus is not easy. Throughout her storied career, Augustus has practically seen it all. But Williams is unique.
“That’s been amazing to see that growth over the last few games of her transitioning from the starting group to the second group and being able to utilize that same focus and mentality to get herself going in that group.”
SHE’S A HEADACHE FOR OPPONENTS
“She’s just Bay to us,” said Chelsea Gray. “We know what she’s capable of every time she steps on the floor. She’s a headache for the opposite team.”
Gray, the Sparks starting point guard, has played in the backcourt with Williams since 2017. Gray said “Bay” is equally impressive during scrimmages.
“I know when playing against her in practice, she’s a headache. So just having her on our side is amazing and she’s capable on both ends of the floor. It’s going to show up in the stat sheet offensively, knocking down 3’s and things like that but she also poses a threat defensively.”
Gray believes Williams’ on-ball defense can create headaches because she’s quick and one of the best athletes in the WNBA.
“I just enjoy playing with her on both sides of the ball,” Gray said.
THE BEAUTIFUL SHOT
“You feel like almost every time she shoots it, it has a chance to go in,” said Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher.
Fisher, a five-time World Champion, was often lauded for his clutch three-point shooting during his 18 year NBA career. With a career 37 percent average from 3, one of Fisher’s keys to great shooting is simplicity.
“Riquna’s shot is really tight and efficient and I think that allows her to be a really, really good shooter,” Fisher said. “It’s a beautiful shot to watch. She doesn’t waste motion and I think that’s one of the keys to great shooting.”
“As we commit ourselves to moving the basketball more, sharing the ball more, making the extra pass to our teammate, the type of looks that she’s getting, that’s going to allow her to shoot the ball even better,” Fisher shared.
Meanwhile, Williams is thankful she still has a shot to play with the Sparks in the WNBA.
“Just counting my blessings. For me, the biggest thing is to still be able to be a part of the Sparks. I never take that for granted and I’ve been wearing that on my sleeve that I’m so thankful for everybody involved in the Sparks organization,” Williams concluded.