2015-16 was Bob Williams’ 18th season at UC Santa Barbara. He is the winningest coach in school history with 307 victories and is the longest tenured Division I head coach west of the Mississippi River. On Feb. 18, 2016 at UC Riverside, he joined Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV) and Bob Thomason (Pacific) as the only coaches in Big West history to reach the 300 win mark during their time coaching a conference school.
The 2015-16 Gauchos overcame a 2-7 start to finish with a 19-14 overall record and an 11-5 mark in the Big West Conference. Before falling to Hawaii in the semifinals of the league tournament, UCSB had won nine consecutive games, the second longest winning streak in school history. Following the campaign, the Gauchos were invited to play at the inaugural Vegas 16 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The postseason bid was the eighth for the program under Williams and a victory over Northern Illinois in the first round was its first postseason win since 1990.
In 2014-15, Williams led UCSB to a 19-14 overall record and an 11-5 record in the Big West Conference. After losing an overtime heartbreaker in the Big West Tournament semifinal to UC Irvine, the Gauchos were awarded a bid to the College Basketball Invitational, the program’s seventh postseason appearance under Williams.
In 2013-14, Williams guided UCSB to a 21-9 overall record and a 12-4 mark in the Big West. The 10-win improvement over the previous season was the third largest in NCAA and it was the fifth time that a Williams-led Gaucho team won 20 games. In the history of the program, that feat has been achieved 11 times.
Williams’ 2012-13 Gauchos battled through an injury-riddled 11-20 season, but the team closed the regular season on a three-game winning streak and then lost a heartbreaker in the Big West Tournament to the eventual champion, Pacific.
In 2011-12, Williams became UCSB’s all-time leader in coaching victories when, on January 2, 2012, his team defeated Cal Poly, 58-57. With the win over the Mustangs, Williams passed Jerry Pimm to seize the top spot on the list. The Gauchos ended the season with a 20-11 overall record.
2011-12 marked the fourth time that a Williams-coached team won 20 or more games. Overall, Gaucho teams have done so 10 times. Following the season, UCSB was invited to play in the College Insider Tournament.
In 2010-11, Williams guided the Gauchos to their second straight Big West Tournament championship and, as a result, their second straight NCAA Tournament berth. It marked the third NCAA Tournament bid under Williams, the fifth overall for the school and it was the first time the program had gone to the tourney in consecutive seasons.
On Feb. 5, 2011, he recorded his 400th career win when his team defeated UC Davis in overtime, 93-86. In 2009-10, he guided the Gauchos to a 20-10 overall record, a Big West regular season championship, their second Big West Tournament title, and an NCAA Tournament berth. Following the season, Williams was named Big West Coach of the Year for the third time. It was the third time a Williams-coached Gaucho team had won 20 or more games.
In 2008-09, Williams coached the Gauchos to a 16-15 overall record and an 8-8 mark in the Big West Conference. The record, however, doesn’t tell the entire story. UCSB was forced to overcome a myriad of injuries and at one point stood at 8-13 overall and 2-7 in league play.
In 2007-08, Williams led the Gauchos to a 23-9 overall record. The 23 wins were a school record, and UCSB also won its second Big West regular season title with a 12-4 conference record. Following the campaign, the Gauchos were awarded a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. It was the third time that a Williams team advanced to postseason play.
The 2002 Gauchos won the school’s first Big West Tournament title, advancing to the NCAA Tournament, and in 2003, they won the league’s regular season title and played in the NIT.
In 1998-99, Williams took over a UCSB program that had not recorded a winning season in five years, and after seeing his team lose its first eight games that year - extending a two-season losing streak to 16 straight games - the Gauchos turned things around, winning 15 of their final 20 games and finishing on top in the Big West’s Western Division.
Williams has a UCSB record of 307-238. The 307 wins are the most in school history. He has guided the program to 15 winning seasons in his first 18 years and five 20 win seasons. He has a career record of 181-113 in Big West games and his .616 winning percentage in league games is one of the highest among the league’s active coaches.
Prior to his arrival at UCSB, Williams spent eight years at UC Davis and in those eight years, his teams recorded 20 or more wins five times and a 158-76 record. In Williams’ final season, the Aggies went 31-2, won the NCAA Division II National Championship and he was named NABC Division II Coach of the Year. Including two seasons at Menlo College, Williams has an overall career record of 495-337 (.596) at four-year schools.