The Basketball Podcast: EP86 Craig Doty on Program Building

RELEASE DATE : 25/03/2020

In this week’s coaching conversation, Emporia State University head coach Craig Doty joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss program building. 

Doty, a three-time National Champion and three-time National Coach of the Year, has led Emporia State to their first back-to-back 20+ win seasons in 32 years and their only since moving NCAA Division II in 1990. Along the way, nine of Doty’s ESU players have inked pro contracts.

Doty was introduced as the head men’s basketball coach at Emporia State University on April 27, 2018. In eleven seasons as a college head coach, Doty has won two NJCAA National Championships and one NAIA National Championship. Doty has a 240-114 head coaching record while his teams are 31-9 in post-season play.

In five seasons at Emporia State, Doty has coached 13 All-MIAA selections and Emporia State’s first All-American since 2003, Tray Buchanan. Doty’s team broke the school-record for MIAA wins in a season with 15 in 2021-22 and then matched the mark again in 2022-23 while breaking ESU’s NCAA program-record for wins with 23.

Known as a program-builder, in just five seasons Doty has improved the Emporia State program from an inherited 9-19 record (4-15 MIAA) to a 23-9 record (15-7 MIAA) in 2022-23. In each of the past three seasons, Doty’s teams have appeared in the national polls receiving votes for multiple weeks each season while being ranked in the top 25 for six weeks in 2022-23. Under Doty’s tutelage, the Hornets have defeated six nationally ranked opponents.

Prior to his arrival in Emporia, Doty led Graceland University to national prominence. In just two seasons at Graceland, Doty’s program had a 49-22 record and won the 2018 NAIA Division I National Championship in the school’s first trip to the national tournament at Kansas City’s historic Municipal Auditorium. Along the way Doty earned NAIA National Coach of the Year, NAIA National Coach of the Year, and the 2018 Don Meyer Award. Upon winning the 2018 national championship, Doty had led his teams to the National Championship game four out of the previous five seasons.

Doty began his head coaching career as the head men’s basketball coach at Rock Valley College. In his four years he built a national powerhouse. When Doty took over the program in 2012, Rock Valley was ranked last in Region IV preseason poll. Over the next four years, Doty would lead the Golden Eagles to four consecutive national tournaments including three straight national title games. Rock Valley was crowed National Champions in 2014 and in 2016, the first and second national championships in the 50-year program history.

Prior to Rock Valley College, Doty served as an Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at University of Sioux Falls (NCAA Division II) in South Dakota. In 2011-12, Doty was an Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Riverland Community College (NJCAA Division III) in Minnesota.

Craig Doty

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Craig Doty Quotes:

“We try to create dialogue . . specifically in meeting settings. We know when we talk there are gray areas . . we actively want a response from our student-athletes in terms of why certain things are taking place.”

“I speak . . from a perspective of. . being as much of a hybrid player as you can. You’re not just skilled and you’re not just tough but you’re a little bit of everything . . having that player balance is really important.”

“If you take all the emotions and life lessons out of it [basketball] . . it’s really a silly game . . all the things that go into becoming a successful basketball player . . those are the exact same things that . . parallel being successful in your community or as a father . . that’s what makes this game so powerful.”

“We push that on our guys all the time . . handling adversity, being patient . . these are all life lessons that are taught through the game of basketball.”

“I think it’s the responsibility of every coach . . to be able to connect the dots for their players so they can see the parallels to real life.”

“I think the coaches establish what the identity is but they then have to get the players to buy in and then they have to give it away. They have to give the program to the players . . One of the ways we do that is through constant film study.”

“We constantly emphasize film study. And the other thing is how competitive we are in practice. We stat all of our practices; we make every practice matter.”

“This is something as a staff we need to work on. We have a couple guys who don’t handle the criticism very well if they’re playing selfishly, if they’re taking bad shots . . and we address that and we see them sometimes shut down . . sometimes that adversity is positive.”

“If you’re just walking through what the opponent’s going to do and then, all of a sudden at game time . . they’re going full speed, it’s going to punch you in the mouth and you’re going to struggle guarding that.”

“What I like to do . . is we’ll go up and down for four possessions . . they’ll go down on offense and run our sets and then retreat on defense [and] they have to guard our opponent’s stuff.”

“We want to be able to guard our opponent’s best five actions . . we need to be able to shut those down so they’re running their secondary stuff way more often.”

“When we won our national championship at Graceland University . . we were plus 10 on the glass per game and we played 39 games that season. That’s 390 more rebounds than our opponent . . talk about creating margin for error when your shots aren’t going in.”

“We impress upon them, ‘How many rebounds are you getting per practice.’ . . It matters if you’re securing a box out and then going and getting a ball as opposed to rebounding in your own zone.”

“When we verbalize those things, I think it can be more effective than even charting . . charting is important. Data is important. But also, being able to connect with those guys from a non-analytical standpoint . . I think there’s great value in that, too.”

“When you’re no longer around sport, this stuff is important . . you’re always going to answer to people. What is important to them? And if you can value that . . your life experience professionally is going to be that much better.”

Craig Doty Selected Links from the Podcast:

Emporia State University

Golden State Warriors

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Fort Hays State University

Graceland University

Kent Weiser

Craig Doty Breakdown:

1:00 – His Inspiration on Digging in the Social Media
3:30 – Sharing List with his Players about Communication
6:00 – Skilled As a Basketball Player
8:00 – Things that He Needs to Prepare for his Players
10:20 – Why he is having Great Players on his Team
16:30 – Coping Strategies For Handling Honesty
19:30 – Preparing for an Opponent
23:00 – Efficiency in Video
25:00 – Work-Life Balance
27:30 – Preparation of their Scouting Report
30:00 – Other Things he done rather than Video
33:00 – Caring Opponent Play Calls
35:30 – Valuable for his Players
38:00 – Basketball Drills for his Team
40:00 – Important things to Value in their Team
42:30 – Freedom of his Players
44:30 – Approaching Style of Play on Offense
48:00 – Aligning to his boss
51:00 – Conclusion

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