Oliver "Doc" Eslinger, Ed.D., is head men's basketball coach at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA. A founder of Top Game Consulting, he is actively involved in the psychology of sport and performance at all levels of athletics.
In just five seasons at the helm of the Caltech program, Doc's squads have made significant progress. In his initial season, with six graduating seniors and no incoming recruits, the Beavers competed valiantly and made strides to be competitive. They witnessed another 1,000 point scorer (Travis Haussler), and were the host school for the SCIAC Ducey Award winner (Matt Dellatorre).
Eslinger's inaugural recruiting class (2009) was the first of its kind as several players came to Caltech with quality high school basketball experiences. Mike Edwards was heavily recruited and did not disappoint as he set a Caltech record for 3-pointers made in a season, and became one of the top scorers (18.8 ppg) and thieves (1.8 spg) in the SCIAC. Point guard Collin Murphy set the stage for his career as he calibrated the offense for Tech and finished among the league leaders in assists (2.0 apg), steals (1.4 spg), and rebounds (4.1 rpg).
With virtually no key players returning from his first year ledger, the 2009-10 unit was the youngest team in the nation; 11 freshmen and just two juniors competed for playing time. Eight frosh started at least two games, and all first-year players received meaningful minutes. The typical starting rotation included four freshmen and one junior, Ryan Elmquist, who topped the conference in blocked shots with 50 in 25 contests. Caltech, for much of the season, led the SCIAC in opponent 3-point field goal percentage defense and set historical program marks for team field goal attempts and blocked shots. Furthermore, a legion of players were named to the NABC Honors Court and the inaugural SCIAC All-Academic Team.
With a solid structure in place and another influential recruiting class, the program began to turn the corner in Eslinger’s third season. Starting one senior (Elmquist), two sophomores, and two freshmen, the Beavers became stronger. They won three games in a row during the non-conference slate and picked up another victory immediately prior to the start of conference play.
The Beavers competed with every team in the SCIAC and were involved in some heart-breaking losses (by one point, two points, four points in overtime to the team that won the conference, and six points twice). Caltech finally broke through and made history on February 22 when it topped Occidental 46-45 in the last game of the season -- the first conference victory for the program since 1985.
The improvement in performance has been remarkable since Doc’s arrival. In 2006-07, Caltech averaged 28.8 turnovers and just 28.1 rebounds per game which resulted in 46.9 points and a -40.8 margin of defeat. Just four years later, and in Eslinger’s third campaign, the Beavers cut the turnovers in half (14.0 per contest), upped rebounds (32.7 per game), and averaged 58.2 points per outing (-10.2 scoring margin). Caltech’s assist to turnover ratio climbed from .3 to .83.
Caltech won more NCAA games in 2010-11 than it had in 50 years and produced a number of awards along the way. Elmquist graduates as the most decorated player in Caltech history (No. 2 on the Caltech scoring list, No. 1 in blocked shots, No. 1 in free throws made). He was named D3hoops.com All-West Region, CoSida Academic All-District and received the SCIAC Ted Ducey Award after leading the league in blocked shots and finishing second in scoring. Freshman Todd Cramer led the SCIAC in assists (4.9 apg) and set the Caltech record for most helpers in a season (123). Edwards finished third in the league in scoring (14.8 ppg) and in the top 13 in six other categories. Freshman Mike Paluchniak led the league in minutes played (37.0 mpg).
In 2011-12, Edwards led the team in scoring and was named to the all-conference team, while freshmen Bryan Joel and Andrew Hogue were two of the top first-year players in the SCIAC. They each entered Caltech's top 10 for a season in 3-point field goal percentage. The following season, freshman Kc Emezie finished tenth in SCIAC points and field goal percentage. Eslinger’s squads have set more than 60 team and individual records the past four seasons.
Doc came to Caltech after spending six years as the top assistant and associate head coach at MIT. In this role, Eslinger was responsible for all phases of the program, including practice and game preparation, on-the-floor coaching, scouting, recruiting, scheduling, video editing and exchange, travel management, budget facilitation, alumni relations and facility coordination.
The Engineers compiled a 87-73 record (.544) during Eslinger's tenure. Over six seasons, precedents were set for the only two post-season appearances (ECAC) and two tip-off tournament championships in team history. In 2006, the program achieved the most wins in its 105-year history (21-9) which led to Larry Anderson being named NEWMAC Coach of the Year. Nearly every season under Eslinger, MIT ranked nationally in the top 10 in field goal percentage defense, scoring defense, rebounding margin or free throw percentage.
Eslinger coached the 2006 team when it traveled to Taiwan and won the Kainan Invitational International Tournament Championship. He was instrumental in developing Newton native, Mike D'Auria, (until that time) MIT's only d3hoops.com All-American, ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, and NEWMAC Player of the Year from MIT. Doc also recruited and coached Colorado-born Jimmy Bartolotta, the lone Jostens Trophy candidate from the Institute (2008 finalist and 2009 winner) who now, along with being named 2009 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American of the Year, national Division 3 Player of the Year, and conference Player of the Year, is the all-time leader in points and steals at MIT -- and the player who led MIT to its first ever D3 NCAA Tournament. In addition, Eslinger recruited and coached the only two NEWMAC Rookies of the Year from MIT and coached 14 NEWMAC All-Academic team members. In 2006, Eslinger received an MIT Gold Award for outstanding service and dedication to DAPER and the MIT community. In 2008, he coached the NEBCA all-stars.
Eslinger made the trek to Cambridge after previously serving as head coach at Boston University Academy and as an assistant coach at Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, N.Y. Eslinger stays actively involved in camps and clinics at all levels, making significant contributions to Bentley, Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, Rising Star, Crossover Sports in Shanghai, China, and most recently, the Matt Lottich Life Skills Basketball Camp in San Carlos, CA. In addition to his coaching positions, he works with various athletes and teams as a sport and performance consultant.
Eslinger played high school basketball at Bethlehem (N.Y.), and continued his career at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., where he was a starting guard and majored in psychology. Eslinger earned his doctorate in counseling psychology-sport psychology and masters in counseling from Boston University. His dissertation covered the invigorating subject of mental imagery abilities in collegiate basketball players.
During his tenure with the Terriers, Eslinger co-founded Top Game Sport Consulting, and then later served as a consultant for the 2003 Women's World Cup. While honoring his commitments to the MIT basketball program, Eslinger previously co-directed the MIT Summer Day Camp, and was a founding faculty member and director of athletics at the Community Charter School of Cambridge in Kendall Square.
In addition to his coaching positions, Doc has worked as a sport and performance consultant and has contributed writing to ESPN, ClipperBlog, and the HoopSpeak Coaches Forum, while maintaining his own blog, Doc's Head Games. He is a founding faculty member of the Community Charter School of Cambridge (MA) where he served as Director of Athletics from 2005-08, and he serves on the Advisory Board for the Youth Basketball Coaching Association (YBCA) and MOCAP Analytics. In 2011, Eslinger initiated Doc's Basketball Academy, a summer basketball camp for youth and elite high school players.