When the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team opens its 2017/18 season Nov. 17, head coach Bill Geitner will move to the head of the class in terms of length of service by a head coach in the 77-year history of the program.
Already having coached (416) and won (249) more games than any of the previous nine coaches prior to the 2017/18 season, Geitner will pass the late, legendary Francis E. Geissler in terms of years coached when the Warriors tip off against Dean College in the opening round of the Ted Coghlin Memorial Tournament at WPI. That game marks the start of Geitner's 16th season in charge of the program.
In addition to having coached more games overall than any other head coach in program history, Geitner has coached more than half (210 of 398) of the team's regular-season games in the 31-year history of the Little East Conference. His regular-season (130) and post-season (12) win total, and regular-season (5) and tournament (2) titles in Little East play also top the all-time Eastern coaching chart.
In 2016/17, the Warriors re-gained the 20-win plateau (21-9) after a brief one-year absence. En route to that plateau, Geitner led the Warriors to their seventh 20-win season in the last eight years, their fourth straight LEC regular-season title (fifth in six years), second LEC tournament title under his watch, and seventh post-season appearance in eight years. In 2016/17, the Warriors never lost as many as two straight games once the calendar turned to December, cobbled together a nine-game win streak at mid-season, and came from 13 points back to trim Keene State College, 72-70, in the LEC tournament championship game at Geissler Gym.
For his efforts, Geitner was voted LEC Coach-of-the-Year for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.
In these last eight years, Eastern has won 171 games with a 72.4 winning percentage, averaging 21.4 victories per season. In the LEC regular-season, Eastern is 82-16 (83.7) in the last eight years, winning at least ten of 14 games each year. In one three-year stretch, the Warriors were 39-3 in LEC regular-season play and posted the only perfect 14-0 season since the conference went to a 14-game format in 1997/98.
Geitner, the tenth coach in program history, took over as the program's winningest coach with his second win of 2014/15, which occured when the Warriors won their own Eastern Tip-Off Tournament title with a 74-53 win over Colby College. Two weeks later, Geitner moved to the head of Eastern's all-time coaching class in games coached, when the Warriors won the University of Rochester Thanksgiving Invitational in the eighth game of the season, the 339th in Geitner's Eastern coaching career.
Until 2009/10, the program had managed only two seasons of at least 20 victories in its history. That year, Geitner guided the Warriors to the first of six straight 20-win campaigns.
In 2011/12, Geitner performed a feat that had not been done with the men's basketball program in nearly 20 years: he led the Warriors to two NCAA tournament victories and a berth in the NCAA Division III Sweet 16. After winning the program's first Little East Conference tournament title since 2000, Geitner orchestrated a run through the NCAA tournament which included a regional championship with victories over Medaille College and in double overtime, a buzzer-beating triumph over host SUNY Oswego.
In 2012/13, even though the Warriors attained the 20-win plateau for the fourth straight season (22-8) , they were unable to reach that monumental feat of the previous season. Instead, they "settled" for the next best thing by completing an unprecedented run through the ECAC New England Tournament that resulted in the program's first championship in that tournament. Moreover, it was the University's first ECAC title of any sorts in 11 years -- first by a men's program in 39 seasons.
Each summer, Geitner and his staff and players direct the popular co-ed Eastern Connecticut Basketball Camp at Geissler Gymnasium. The camp has enjoyed full enrollment in recent years.
For his program-record 24-win season in 2011/12, Geitner was named NABC Northeast Region and LEC Coach-of-the-Year. With Eastern picked for a share of fourth in the LEC pre-season poll, Geitner led the Warriors to their first regular-season conference title in the 26-year history of the championship and a program-record (to that point) 11 wins in 14 conference contests. The program's overall 80.0 winning percentage was the program's highest since 1969/70.
In 2010/11, Geitner directed the club to a second straight 20-win season and a second straight No. 1 seed in the ECAC tournament. The 21 wins in 2010/11 tied the program season record for wins, but stood up for less than a year.
In 2009/10, Geitner enjoyed a breakthrough season with the program, leading the Warriors to the third 20-win season in program' history and the No.1 seed in the ECAC New England Division III Tournament.
The Fullton, NY native was named the tenth head coach in Eastern Connecticut State University men’s basketball history in the summer of 2002.
In his first season at Eastern in 2002/03, Geitner inherited only six letterwinners and no seniors, but the Warriors came within a bucket of upsetting third-seeded Keene State College on its home court in the opening round of the LEC tournament. Picked to finish sixth in the conference coaches’ pre-season poll prior to his second season, Eastern shared third place, winning eight of 14 regular-season conference games. On the final day of the regular season last year, Eastern avenged an earlier double-digit loss to Rhode Island College to shock the eventual LEC tournament champion.
Before accepting his current assignment, Geitner had been an assistant at five different institutions, most recently at Division I Loyola College in Maryland.
While Geitner has coached at all three college levels, he spent nine years as an assistant coach at three Division III institutions after lettering four seasons at Division III Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, from 1983 through 1987.“At heart, I’m a Division III person,” says Geitner, whose Division III coaching resume includes six years (1991-97) at the University of Rochester, NY, two (1989-91) at Hamilton, and one (1988-89) at Hobart College in Geneva, NY. “I played at the Division III level and enjoyed the atmosphere. I can relate to student-athletes at that level, because I’ve gone through what they’re being asked to go through.”
Geitner holds a B.A. in Government from Hamilton and earned his M.S. in Administration from the University of Rochester in 1997.
Geitner and wife Sheri (Harrod) have two children, Annika Christine, 17, and Brian Emil,15, and reside in Tolland.
|EASTERN MEN'S BASKETBALL IN 15 YEARS UNDER HEAD COACH BILL GEITNER|
#-NCAA tournament +-ECAC tournament ($-champion)