A two-time Mountain West Coach of the Year and the winningest coach in program history, Ryun Williams enters his eighth season at the helm of the Colorado State women’s basketball program in 2019-20.
Under Williams’ guidance, the CSU women’s basketball team has enjoyed one of its most successful stretches in program history. In addition to his program-best 144 wins, Williams is one of only three coaches in program history to win 100 games or more at CSU, while his 83 conference wins are by far the most in program history. Williams' conference winning percentage of .669 (83-41 record) is the best by any CSU head coach and is third-best in Mountain West history.
Prior to the 2018-19 campaign that saw an 8-22 record, Colorado State reached the postseason each of the past five seasons. With a 21-12 record in 2017-18, the Rams qualified for the WNIT and picked up a postseason victory for the second straight season after defeating Western Illinois in the opening round. Williams' team, which also registered its fifth-straight campaign with 20 or more wins, was the nation's 18th-youngest when measured by percentage of underclassmen (53.3 percent).
In 2016-17, CSU won its fourth-straight outright regular-season Mountain West championship, becoming the first women's or men's basketball team in conference history to win as many consecutively. The Rams reached their fourth consecutive postseason tournament in 2016-17, and defeated Saint Mary's in round one of the WNIT for the program's first postseason win since 2003. The Rams clinched a program record for consecutive home wins in 2016-17, picking up their 22nd straight victory at Moby Arena with a victory over Seattle on Dec. 18, 2016.
Williams coached the Rams to an NCAA Tournament appearance and national ranking in 2015-16, which were each firsts for the program since 2002. CSU’s NCAA Tournament bid in 2015-16 also marked the program’s third consecutive postseason appearance, building upon selections to the WNIT in 2013-14 as well as in 2014-15. The Rams finished 31-2 (.939) in 2015-16, marking the second-highest single season win total in school history, as well as the most wins in a single season by any school in Mountain West history.
Additionally, Williams’ 2015-16 squad finished Mountain West play with a perfect 18-0 record, marking only the third time in league history that a team has run the table in conference play and the only time a MW school has gone undefeated since the conference transitioned to an 18-game league schedule.
The Rams won a program-record 28 straight games in 2015-16, shattering the previous school record of 19 consecutive victories. CSU entered 2016-17 with 15 straight wins at Moby Arena, then the third-longest winning stretch at home in school history, as well as with a program-best 12 straight wins in true road contests. The Rams were undefeated at home for the entirety of the 2015-16 season, a feat that had only been accomplished previously by the Rams during the 1998-99 season.
Williams earned his second MW Coach of the Year award in 2015-16, while Ellen Nystrom was named MW Player of the Year that same season. Nystrom was Williams’ second MW Player of the Year, joining Gritt Ryder, who earned the award in 2014-15. Nystrom was named MW Player of the Year again in 2016-17, becoming the first repeat winner of the award since 2005-06 (Kim Smith, Utah).
The Rams went 11-19 (.367) in Williams’ first season, but quickly turned into a perennial contender, winning back-to-back Mountain West Championships with a 25-8 (.758) record in 2013-14 and a 23-8 (.741) mark in 2014-15. The improvement from Williams’ first to second seasons ranked as the third-best turnaround in the country in 2013-14, and is the best in program history. Following the team’s strides in his second season, Williams was awarded with the 2014 Russell Athletic/WBCA NCAA Division I Regional Coach of the Year award.
Tasked with repairing what had been nearly a decade of sub-par results, Williams brought eight new faces to the Rams’ 2013-14 roster in his second season at the helm. That season, the Rams recorded win streaks of eight and 10 games, as well as a stretch of 17 wins in 18 games. CSU skyrocketed to the top of the 2013-14 Mountain West standings and won its first regular season championship in 12 years.
The Rams, who were picked to finish seventh in 2013-14 Mountain West preseason poll, more than doubled their win total from the previous season to produce their best record in 13 years as well as the third-most victories in program history.
The team earned a program-record 10 all-conference awards between six players, and Williams earned his first MW Coach of the Year honor. The Rams also received their first postseason invitation in 10 years with its first of two trips to the WNIT under Williams.
Williams has compiled an impressive 435-258 career record, with stops at South Dakota (2008-12), Wayne State College (1998-2008) and Sheridan College (1995-98). Williams’ basketball teams have recorded 10 campaigns with 20 or more victories, eight postseason berths and five conference championships.
Before coming to Colorado State, Williams was most recently head coach at his alma mater, South Dakota. In four seasons, Williams led the Coyotes to a highly successful stretch during their transition to Division I competition, and helped them become one of the nation’s premier defensive teams.
A staple of the Coyotes under Williams was team defense, and in 2011-12, the Coyotes were one of the nation’s premier defensive teams. USD ranked second nationally in blocks per game (7.3), eighth in field-goal defense (33.2) and 12th in scoring defense (52.3), as well as tops in the Summit League in all three categories. That season, the Coyotes qualified for the WNIT for the first time as a Division I program, marking their second straight postseason following a WBI appearance in 2010-11. South Dakota finished with a No. 97 rank in the RPI in 2011-12, the second-best RPI of any Summit League team that season as well as the highest RPI in school history.
Prior to arriving at USD in 2008, Williams spent 10 seasons at Wayne State, building that program into a perennial contender in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Wayne State, which had won just 13 games combined over the previous two seasons, recorded 20 wins or more in three of his final four seasons and made appearances in the NCAA Division II North Central Region tournament in two of his last three seasons. While at Wayne State, he compiled a 181-105 record (.632) and became the winningest women’s basketball coach in school history.
Before taking over at Wayne State, Williams was the women’s head coach at Sheridan College (Wyo.) from 1995-98. During his tenure, Williams received a Region IX Coach of the Year nod and was named the Wyoming Conference Coach of the Year twice.
Williams began his head coaching career at Sheridan when he served as the volleyball head coach and men’s basketball assistant coach in 1993. In his time as the head coach of the volleyball program he put together a 117-66 record. In 1995, Sheridan volleyball went 42-8, won the Region IX title and finished fifth at the junior college national tournament. Williams garnered Wyoming Conference and Region IX Coach of the Year honors in 1994 and 1995.
Sheridan is also where Williams began his collegiate playing career. He played basketball for two seasons at Sheridan, where he was an All-Region IX player as a sophomore, before transferring to South Dakota. Notably, Williams was an All-NCC selection and once led the nation in free throw percentage (91.2 percent). As a high school senior at Campbell County High School, he was named Mr. Basketball for the state of Wyoming in 1988.
A native of Gillette, Wyo., Williams earned his associate’s degree from Sheridan in 1990, his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota in 1992 and his master’s degree from South Dakota in 1997.
Williams and his wife, Lyndy, have two daughters, Natalie and Emily.