Williams, who played high school basketball, has kept in shape since retiring from baseball, and he said that had come in handy with the Titans. He picks his spots to mix it up at practice.
“In order to teach,” he said, “sometimes you must be able to demonstrate. Not always. But it’s good when you can.”
Said Harfouch, “He’ll come out and dunk in his Cole Haans.”
Williams has a direct management style. He likes to remind the players that good practice habits are the foundation of success, and that each person on the roster is easily replaceable.
“If you’re not hungry, trust me — we’ll make an adjustment,” he said.
He has also compared notes with another Florida-based sports executive: Derek Jeter, one of his closest friends and a former co-worker in the Bronx. Jeter is the chief executive of the Miami Marlins, who are coming off a postseason appearance. “He is locked in over there,” Williams said.
With the Titans, Williams has big goals of his own. He said he was hoping to persuade the Raptors to give Harfouch a tryout. But timing is everything, Williams said, and he wants to wait until the Titans start their season, so that Harfouch has a fresh body of work. “You want to have him be on fire this year,” Williams said.
Malcolm St. Louis, a 26-year-old forward, recalled hearing about the Titans not long after he moved to Tampa.
“I put my last $150 on the tryout,” he said.
The team’s first season, St. Louis said, was full of “extreme highs and extreme lows.” The adrenaline from a couple of early road wins against the Owensboro Thoroughbreds was quickly offset by a long losing streak. But the Titans also had a West Coast trip, which included a stop near Las Vegas for games against the Mesquite Desert Dogs.