UCF set a new school attendance record as 2,178 fans witnessed the Knights defeat the Golden Eagles on Jan. 15.
With more than 20 years of overall coaching experience under her belt, Joi Williams will enter her ninth season as the head coach at UCF and 13th season as a head coach in 2015-16. Williams is the winningest coach in UCF women's basketball history with 107 wins to her name heading into the 2015-16 season.
In her eight seasons building the UCF program, Williams has already compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, including leading the Knights to the 2009 and 2011 NCAA Tournaments after her teams claimed Conference USA Championships in those seasons.
Williams has also represented both UCF and her country by working with USA Basketball. She currently is serving a four-year term with the USA Junior National Team Committee, helping select coaches and athletes for USA Basketball's college-aged competitions.
In the summer of 2010, Williams served as an assistant coach of the USA Basketball Women's U-18 National Team and helped lead the squad to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship for Women. She reprised that role with USA Basketball in the summer of 2011 as an assistant coach with the national team at the U-19 World Championships in Chile. Williams and the US defeated Spain to once again take home the gold medal for the second straight summer.
On Nov. 17, 2014, Williams reached a special milestone, nabbing her 100th win as UCF's head coach with a 98-65 victory over Oakland. During the 2014-15 season, Williams guided Zykira Lewis to all-conference honors as the sophomore claimed the program's single-season 3-point field goals record.
In UCF's first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference, the Knights posted their best start to a season (4-0) since 1984. The team earned the program's 500th victory in its season-opening 65-51 win over Central Connecticut State, and UCF won the first American women's basketball game to be played with a 67-59 decision at Houston. It marked Williams' 150th career victory.
In the Knights' final season as a member of Conference USA in 2012-13, Williams led the program on a magical run through the conference tournament. UCF advanced to its third title game in five years thanks to victories over Houston, regular season champion and No. 1 seed SMU and defending tournament champion UTEP.
Throughout the year, UCF ended an 0-44 streak against SEC opponents with a win over Mississippi State, snapped the nation's ninth-longest home-win streak at Florida Gulf Coast and saw Briahanna Jackson earn C-USA Freshman of the Year honors after breaking the school record for steals in a single season.
In 2011, Williams helped the Knights to their most successful season in nearly three decades. She led UCF to a 22-11 record and claimed the program's second C-USA title with a 12-point win over defending champion Tulane in the final. The conference championship secured the Knights a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament; the fourth appearance in school history.
Williams guided the Knights to the 2011 C-USA crown on the strength of an 11-game winning streak. UCF closed out the season on an eight-game run that was followed by three straight wins in the conference tourney to claim the championship. The 11-game streak and the 20-plus win season were the first by the program in 27 seasons.
In 2008-09, the Knights were picked to finish last in C-USA before posting 11 conference wins and tying for second place. The Knights' 11 league wins in 2008-09 matched the program's total in its first three seasons in C-USA combined, and Williams' peers took notice by voting her the 2009 C-USA Coach of the Year. Also in 2008-09, UCF players won the C-USA Player of the Week award a league-high five times.
The season became more memorable in the postseason, when the Knights won four games in four days to capture the C-USA Tournament Championship and the program's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1999. The Knights finished the season at 17-17 after a hard-fought 85-80 loss to third-seeded North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
In her first season at UCF in 2007-08, with freshmen playing a nation-high 91 percent of the minutes, Williams led UCF to its first 10-win season in three years.
Williams came to UCF after four seasons as the head coach at Murray State (2003-04 to 2006-07), where she helped the Racers to a WNIT berth and the program's first 20-win season in 18 years. The Racers had a 54-61 overall record in her time rebuilding Murray State.
In her final campaign with the Racers in 2006-07, Williams led Murray State to a 21-10 mark and a trip to the WNIT. The WNIT berth marked only the second postseason appearance in Murray State history. The Racers also advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Championship title game. Murray State finished the campaign among the national leaders in several statistical categories, including free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage and scoring offense.
Williams spent the 2002-03 season as the recruiting coordinator at Clemson.
Prior to Clemson, Williams was the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Florida for 12 seasons (1990-91 to 2001-02). During her tenure, the Gators participated in nine NCAA Tournaments and tallied a 247-121 overall record (.671 winning percentage).
Williams helped attract five All-America selections to Florida, and nine standouts who were recruited by and played under Williams were selected in the WNBA Draft. The list of WNBA draftees includes DeLisha Milton-Jones, who was the 1997 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, the first UF player ever selected to the Kodak All-America First Team and a member of the gold-medalist 2000 and 2008 U.S. Olympic basketball teams. Milton-Jones also earned gold medals with the 1998 and 2002 USA World Championship teams.
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Williams played on the collegiate level at the University of South Florida from 1984-88. She was a four-year starting point guard and currently ranks among USF's career assist leaders. She earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from USF in 1988.