Honors & Awards
Amy Williams opened a new chapter in a familiar place after being named the head coach of the Nebraska women's basketball team on April 11, 2016.
Williams, who proved herself as a winner and a program builder in her first nine seasons as a collegiate head coach, returned to her alma mater to lead a new stage in the Husker program.
In her second season with the Big Red, Williams proved again that she could get a program moving in the right direction in a hurry. Williams captured 2018 Big Ten Coach-of-the-Year honors from both conference coaches and media after leading the nation's biggest turnaround. The Huskers earned a bid into the 2018 NCAA Tournament and finished with a 21-11 record - a nation-leading 14-game turnaround in the win column over 2016-17. Nebraska was also plus-eight in the win column in Big Ten play, finishing the conference season with an 11-5 mark to claim the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Huskers proved they belonged as one of the top four teams in the Big Ten by knocking off No. 24 Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals to advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2014. Williams also was honored as a Naismith National Coach-of-the-Year semifinalist (1 of 10).
Defensively, Nebraska led the Big Ten with a school-record field goal percentage defense (.371) while also leading the conference in three-point field goal percentage defense (.299). The Huskers improved 12.7 points per game defensively over the 2016-17 campaign. The Huskers were also six points per game better on the offensive end compared to 2016-17, and shattered the school record with 250 three-pointers made on the season.
Individually, sophomore point guard Hannah Whitish earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, while 6-5 center Kate Cain captured spots on both the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the Big Ten All-Defensive Team. Cain, the only freshman or sophomore on the five-player all-defensive unit, shattered the Nebraska school record with 100 blocked shots on the season, including the school's first points-rebounds-blocks triple-double with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks in a non-conference win over Florida Atlantic. With Cain leading the way, the Huskers smashed the school record with 163 blocked shots on the year.
Cain was joined in Nebraska's freshman class by Taylor Kissinger. The 2017 All-Nebraska player produced one of the top-five three-point shooting seasons by a freshman in Husker history, despite battling multiple injuries during the season. She and Cain combined to average nearly 20 points and more than 10 rebounds per game, making them one of the most productive freshman duos in Husker history, while also giving Williams her first top-25 recruiting class at Nebraska.
Sophomore Nicea Eliely also overcame an early season injury to increase her production from a strong freshman campaign, while junior Maddie Simon made the transition from a wing to power forward position for the Big Red. Simon finished the regular season as Nebraska's second-leading scorer and rebounder despite battling an early season ankle injury of her own.
Overall, Nebraska is scheduled to return each of its top five scorers (Hannah Whitish, Maddie Simon, Taylor Kissinger, Kate Cain, Nicea Eliely) in 2018-19, while adding its second consecutive top 25 recruiting class that includes Iowa all-stater Ashtyn Veerbeek, Indiana star Leigha Brown and Minnesota standouts Sam Haiby and Kayla Mershon.
In her first season of a building process at Nebraska in 2016-17, the Huskers struggled to a 7-22 overall record that included a 3-13 Big Ten mark. While the Huskers' record was not glossy, the Big Red faced one of the nation's top-30 schedules and finished with three wins over top-65 RPI teams by the end of the season.
Nebraska's regular season ended with a 76-74 overtime win over NCAA Tournament-bound Michigan State at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Feb. 26. That win followed a 67-64 home win over an Indiana squad that finished in the top four in the final 14-team Big Ten standings. The Huskers added a win over Mountain West Conference regular-season champion Colorado State in the 2016 Preseason WNIT at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
While the building process continues, Williams and the Huskers carry the full support of Husker Nation. In fact, the Huskers ranked among the nation's top-25 attendance in attendance for the ninth consecutive season in 2017-18. The Big Red have ranked among the nation's top 20 in average home attendance in each of the first five seasons inside Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Williams, who was a four-year letterwinner (Amy Gusso, 1995-96-97-98) at Nebraska, played for coaches Angela Beck and Paul Sanderford before embarking on a career in coaching. The academic All-Big 12 honoree earned her bachelor's degree from Nebraska as a biology and mathematics major in 1998, before earning her master's degree in sports administration from Nebraska-Kearney in 2002.
Williams spent four successful seasons (2013-16) as the head coach at South Dakota, where she led the Coyotes to four straight postseason appearances. She led USD to a 32-6 record that culminated with a WNIT Championship in 2015-16. The Coyotes won the Summit League regular-season title with a 15-1 mark, and she was named the Summit League Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Her gritty pack of Coyotes went 32-3 after opening the year 0-3. South Dakota's 32 wins were a program record (Division I), surpassing the 26 victories her Yotes totaled in 2014-15, when she won her first Summit League Coach-of-the-Year award. Over Williams' final two seasons at USD, her teams went 58-14 (.806), including 28-4 in the Summit League with a pair of regular-season conference crowns.
She led USD to 16 straight wins (longest streak in school history) before falling to rival South Dakota State in the Summit League Tournament title game. The Coyotes defeated the same South Dakota State team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament twice during the regular season. Five of USD's six losses in 2015-16 came to teams that advanced to postseason play, including a loss to NCAA Women's Final Four qualifier Washington.
Williams' team rolled to a WNIT title with six straight wins, including a six-point victory over Creighton, a 12-point win over Minnesota, a victory over Northern Iowa, a 14-point win over Western Kentucky and a whopping 34-point victory over Oregon before beating Florida Gulf Coast.
Williams finished her four-year stint in Vermillion with the second-most victories in program history (96), averaging 24 victories per season in her first stop as an NCAA Division I head coach.
Williams, who guided the Coyotes to an appearance in the Summit League championship game all four seasons, led USD to remarkable home-court success at the DakotaDome. The Coyotes were 32-1 at home in her final two seasons with the lone loss coming to 2016 NCAA Women's Final Four participant Washington (Dec. 12, 2015).
Williams also helped the Coyotes to success in the stands, attracting 7,415 fans to the DakotaDome for the WNIT Championship game win over FGCU. Vermillion, which is located in the southeast corner of South Dakota near the Nebraska and Iowa borders, has a population of just over 10,000. Overall, USD ranked in the top 50 nationally in average home attendance in 2015-16.
In 2014-15, Williams guided USD to a 26-8 mark that included a trip to the second round of the WNIT. The Coyotes went 13-3 on their way to a Summit League regular-season title. Their 2014-15 success represented a seven-game improvement in the win column over 2013-14 (19-14), when they won the Summit League Tournament title. That team earned an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Tournament before falling to Stanford in the first round.
In her first season at South Dakota, Williams finished with a 19-16 record and earned a trip to the Women's Basketball Invitational semifinals after advancing to the conference tournament title game.
Williams, who will enter her 11th season as a head coach in 2017-18, began her head coaching career with a unique opportunity at Rogers State in Oklahoma. She was named the first-ever head women's basketball coach for the fledgling program in 2007-08 and built the program from the ground up. Her stay at the Claremore, Okla., school culminated with a trip to the NAIA Elite Eight in 2011-12. In five years heading the Hillcats, Williams produced a 97-65 record, including the school's first trip to the NAIA Tournament in 2010-11.
Williams began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Nebraska-Kearney (1998-99 to 1999-2000), before earning a full-time assistant coaching role at the University of Texas San Antonio in 2000-01. She spent four seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Oklahoma State (2001-02 to 2004-05), before working in a similar role at Tulsa (2005-06 to 2006-07).
Williams helped the Golden Hurricane claim its first Conference USA regular-season and tournament championships in 2006. The Hurricane also earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament and won its first tournament game on its way to a 26-6 record.
Williams served as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at Oklahoma State, and brought the 2003 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year to Stillwater in a class that was ranked No. 19 nationally by All-Star Girls Report.
A native of Spearfish, S.D., Williams and her husband, Lloyd, have two daughters Kennadi and Bentli.
Amy Williams' Year-by-Year Head Coaching Record
|2007-08||Rogers State (NAIA)||13-18||.419||9-13||.409||--|
|2010-11||Rogers State||23-10||.697||15-7||.682||NAIA 1st Round|
|2011-12||Rogers State||22-12||.647||14-8||.636||NAIA Elite Eight|
|2012-13||South Dakota||19-16||.543||10-6||.625||WBI Semifinals|
|2013-14||South Dakota||19-14||.576||7-7||.500||NCAA 1st Round|
|2014-15||South Dakota||26-8||.765||13-3||.813||WNIT 2nd Round|
|2015-16||South Dakota||32-6||.842||15-1||.938||WNIT Champion|
|2017-18||Nebraska||21-11||.656||11-5||.688||NCAA 1st Round|
|Totals||11 Seasons||221-142||.609||106-76||.582||7 Postseasons|
|Div. I||Six Seasons||124-77