Nebraska Women's Basketball Coach Amy Williams at Penn State Game
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Amy Williams Talks Expecting More and Team Leadership at Media Days

October 12, 2022

When Nebraska women’s basketball had its postseason meetings, head coach Amy Williams took notice that her team wasn’t satisfied. 

In many ways, it was a successful season for the Huskers. They finished the year with a 24-9 record, reached the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament and earned an NCAA Tournament berth.

Even with a first-round tournament loss, it stands as the strongest year for the Huskers since Amy Williams took over as head coach in 2016-17. But the team wants more, and that’s the message they brought to Big Ten Media Days. 

“I’m looking forward to the upcoming season,” Williams said in her opening statement on Wednesday. “We feel like we’ve raised the bar for our program and want to continue doing so moving forward.” 

The mantra of raising the bar and expecting more came about as a result of those postseason meetings, Williams said in a later media session. Naturally, the offseason consisted of taking steps to accomplish that goal. The Huskers have put a focus on the habits of individual players, and what each can do to get even “1% better.” According to Williams, that could be something as small as prioritizing recovery more, or adjusting a sleep schedule. 

The team read Atomic Habits by James Clear over the summer, a book about creating good habits and breaking bad ones to improve.  

“(We) really tried to identify for each player what specific habits that we felt like if we could correct or improve or increase or get better at, that would really make the most difference in our ability to just raise the bar,” she said.

Individual work becoming collective success also applied to the team’s leadership. The head coach said that every player has something they bring to the table, and need to be ready when called upon. 

“We have embraced the fact that every player on our team at certain times we’re gonna need to lean on for leadership and it could come in a lot of different ways,” Williams said. “I think they’ve really started to embrace that and really self-identify what they can bring to the table in that area for our team.”

At the same time, the team will have a set of main leaders. That’s evidenced by the creation of a leadership council for the team this year.

The group is still relatively new, so the expectations for what it will bring are still being set, Williams said. But she wants it to improve the team’s chemistry, culture and confidence. The council is also a product of her view on leadership, which has shifted over the years.

“I used to very naively early in my coaching career believe that you had leaders, they would emerge, it was something either they were born with, or they had strong leadership qualities or they didn’t,” Williams said. “I’ve quickly learned in my coaching path that that’s not the case and it’s something that most definitely needs to be nourished and nurtured and something that you have to pour a lot of time into developing and encouraging and helping identify and helping people build confidence with their leadership abilities.”

Two names that came up in discussing leaders on the team were sophomore center Alexis Markowski and fifth-year guard Sam Haiby. The former, one of two players representing the Huskers at media days, is coming off a season in which she was named Big Ten Freshman of the year, and Williams praised her belief in her teammates and ability to get them to believe in themselves. The latter is out for the season due to injury, but Williams said she still holds a big presence.

Still nearly a month away from regular season play and so many things yet to be determined, Williams didn’t have any specific milestones in mind that would make this upcoming season successful. But the head coach did say she wants to see a team that plays for each other and is competitive each game — something she’s confident she has with this group.

“When you have a group that is able to put their self aside and genuinely be excited and celebrate for each other then it makes everybody want to play harder for their teammates and that work ethic is kind of what we want to be known for,” Williams said. “We want to be the hardest working team on the floor every time out and that’s so much easier to give when you’re doing it for other people.”

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