By Joe Friesen
Patrick Williams likes to think of himself as an engineer. He builds young men, and he starts from the ground up.
Williams is the new assistant coach for the men’s basketball team and is poised to make a big impact on the Rams this year.
The former Toronto District club coach was a huge talent on the court himself. His game took him to California’s Gavilan College where he played two seasons as a shooting guard for the National College Athletic Association Division II school.
“That was absolutely the defining moment of my life,” says Williams, who runs his own YMCA basketball camp called Home Court Advantage. “I replay it over and over in my mind because of how much I learned about basketball and life in general. Really, there is no difference between basketball and life, because you’re constantly learning in both.”
Williams, 33, was encouraged to apply for the vacant assistant coaching position by Ryerson Athletic Director David Dubois, who was the manager of a citywide basketball league Williams coached in.
The former Gavilan Ram gained his reputation for being a player’s coach through his work in youth basketball in Scarborough, Ont.
“He’s very player-oriented and he’s fundamentally sound. He known basketball and he likes to work with people individually,” says Rams guard Vladimir Matevski.
Williams says he’s a traditionalist, but refuses to compare his coaching style to anyone else’s. He says that he’s formed a great tandem with head coach Terry Haggerty.
“It’s been great working with Terry, and I think he realizes he’s got somebody who’s prepared to fight along with him,” says Williams. “That takes a lot of the pressure off him.”
Rams players are enjoying the different coaching styles.
“Coach Haggerty comes from the old school, he is more about static execution,” says the 6-foot-1 Matevski. “Coach Williams is all about fast-breaking, up-tempo, tough defense basketball.”
Although it’s natural for some controversy to exist around an assistant coach recruited by a new athletic director, Williams is quick to defuse any rumours about the head coaching position.
“The head coaching thing is not something that drives me,” he says. “I love my role. I develop players.”
Williams says both he and Haggerty are trying to build a tradition of excellence at Ryerson that will attract future stars. But the tradition will not solely be based on basketball.
“We want to recruit students to Ryerson because it’s Ryerson, and not just because of its basketball team,” he says.
For the moment, Williams says his team needs to learn the value of respect. Respect for their opponents and respect for the fundamentals that he and coach Haggerty have been trying to instil.
Williams is pleased with the team’s development, despite a series of pre-season losses. He hopes the team will reach its peak in time for the playoffs.
But even if on-court success proves elusive, Williams will be satisfied if the players develop as individuals.
“Their development is more important than the team’s development,” says Williams. “It’s like an engineer. Everything starts from the base, who you are and what you do. If you get that right, success will come.”