Hoops coach surpasses 500 career wins

Achieving another coaching milestone was all but inevitable this season for Wesley Chapel High School varsity boys basketball coach Doug Greseth.

After all, Greseth ended last year sitting on 499 career wins as a high school hoops coach in Florida.

He didn’t have wait very long into the 2018-2019 campaign to celebrate win No. 500.

It came in the Wildcats very first game of this season — a dominant 59-27 road win against the Pasco High Pirates on Nov. 27.

Wesley Chapel High varsity boys basketball coach Doug Greseth recently notched his 500th career win as a high school coach. (Kevin Weiss)

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Greseth, 61, said about achieving his 500th career victory. “I’ve had a lot of good players. I’ve had a lot of good assistant coaches, athletic directors and principals, that have helped me along the way. I’ve just had some good people and good coaches, and just a lot of really, really great memories.”

Greseth is now in his 33rd season coaching high school basketball in Florida.

Much of his success has come by way of Wesley Chapel — going 271-145 (as of Dec. 17) through 16 seasons. (His 267th win at Wesley Chapel was his 500th career win as a high school basketball coach.)

Additionally, Greseth registered 70 wins in four seasons at Tampa Jefferson (1999-2002) and 163 wins in 13 seasons at Okeechobee (1983-1996) high schools. He also had a two-year stint as an assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Tampa.

Greseth entered the coaching ranks after wrapping up a playing career at Rochester (Minnesota) Community College and Division III Augsburg (Minnesota) University.

Initially, he saw it as a “year-to-year thing.”

He kept returning to the sidelines, however, realizing he had a passion and enthusiasm for the profession — and a desire to help athletes reach their full potential.

Greseth put his thoughts about his role this way: “Most people don’t like the grind of practice and getting your players ready to go. I kind of enjoy that part. I kind of enjoy teaching them and coaching them how to play. I enjoy it when we start seeing improvement, and just being around the game.”

He acknowledges, however, it can be frustrating at times, and the workload can be taxing.

Much like other high school hoops coaches, Greseth describes himself as part teacher, part janitor and part house mom.

The gig requires more than coaching games, organizing practices and drawing up plays.

Besides overseeing the development of 26 boys on the school’s varsity and junior varsity squads, Greseth also pumps up balls, launders jerseys, sweeps the gymnasium floor and handles countless logistical issues.

“You do more than people think you do,” said Greseth, who also teaches health and physical education at the school. “When you’re a head high school basketball coach, you pretty much do A to Z,” Greseth said, adding, “I have a lot more responsibilities than just the 2 to 2 ½ hours on the practice floor.”

He’s passionate about the work.

“I really put my heart and soul into this. I really try to do the best I can for my players and in turn, I think they try and do the best they can for me,”  Greseth said.

With his teams, priority is placed on effort, unselfishness, and sound defensive play. It’s a philosophy he’s stuck to through the years.

The results speak for themselves.

He has guided Wesley Chapel to eight playoff appearances, three district championships, and to six seasons with more than 20 wins.

He also made three playoff appearances at Jefferson. And, his 27-3 record during the 1990-1991 season at Okeechobee remains the best single season mark in that program’s history.

He’s a teacher, on and off the court.

“I kind of look at the gym as a big classroom — I’m trying to teach them how to play basketball. I think if you approach it that way, you can stay consistent that way and have good results,” Greseth said.

Beyond the wins and accolades, Greseth also has coached his fair share of standout hoopers.

Among the most notable are Tarence Kinsey at Jefferson and Erik Thomas at Wesley Chapel — both of whom earned state player of the year honors, in 2002 and 2013, respectively.

Kinsey went on to star at the University of South Carolina and played three seasons in the NBA (Memphis Grizzlies in 2006-2008, Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008-2009), before embarking on a basketball career overseas.

Thomas, meanwhile, starred at the University of New Orleans, where in 2017 he was named Southland Conference Player of the Year and led the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in over 20 years. Thomas — Wesley Chapel’s all-time leading scorer (2,138 points) and rebounder (1,203 rebounds) — now plays professionally overseas in Argentina.

“Those were two of the best players I ever had,” Greseth said. “I had a lot of other good ones, too.”

After three-plus decades of coaching, Greseth shows no signs of slowing down.

His current Wildcats squad — a mix of veterans and inexperienced players —  is off to a blistering 5-0 start (as of Dec. 17). Their average margin of victory is 22 points.

Greseth describes the team as “a great bunch of kids to coach for,” and believes the team can compete at the top of District 8-6A come February, with some marked improvements.

“The district, I think, is pretty balanced this year,” the coach said. “There’s a lot of teams that could get a No.1 through No. 4 seed or get to the playoffs. I think we can be right there at the end of the season; we’ve just gotta get better as the year goes on.”

As for how long Greseth will remain in coaching?

“When I don’t have the passion, the drive and the enthusiasm to do it anymore, then I need to step away and somebody else needs to do it,” he said.  “I’ll know when it’s time.”

One thing’s for sure: Greseth plans to end his coaching career at Wesley Chapel.

“I like the school. I like the kids here. I like the people here. I like the people I work with here,” Greseth said.

Road to 500-plus career victories

  • 163 wins in 13 seasons at Okeechobee High School (1983-1996)
  • 70 wins in four seasons at Jefferson (Tampa) High School (1999-2002)
  • 271 wins (as of Dec. 17) in 16 seasons at Wesley Chapel High School (2003-present)

Wesley Chapel High School boys basketball under Coach Doug Greseth
2003-2004: 22-6 (state playoffs; region semifinals)

2004-2005: 17-10 (district champions; state playoffs)

2005-2006: 23-6 (conference champions; district champions; state playoffs)

2006-2007: 15-12 (district runner-up; state playoffs)

2007-2008: 19-7

2008-2009: 12-14

2009-2010: 13-12 (conference runner-up)

2010-2011: 13-16 (district runner-up; state playoffs)

2011-2012: 24-5 (conference champions; state playoffs)

2012-2013: 24-5 (conference champions; district champions; state playoffs)

2013-2014: 21-6 (conference runner-up)

2014-2015: 17-10 (conference runner-up)

2015-2016: 21-8 (conference runner-up; district runner-up; state playoffs)

2016-2017: 9-17

2017-2018: 16-11

2018-2019: 5-0 (as of Dec. 17)

Published December 19, 2018

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