Caltech Head Coach Eslinger Named National Association of Basketball Coaches “Guardian of the Game”

Published : Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | 6:26 AM

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger has been awarded a prestigious Guardian of the Game honor by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Eslinger has been recognized in the Education category for his dedication to the teaching and understanding of the game of basketball. The initial recipient of this particular award, first presented in 2002, was former UCLA coaching legend John Wooden.

Having recently completed his eighth season at Caltech, Eslinger uses a versatile and cerebral approach to teach the game through psychological skills and advanced metrics. He advises basketball analytics companies from an educational perspective, including MOCAP Analytics, which was founded and is managed by a Caltech PhD; contributes to various national sports websites; hosts a youth basketball academy, elite academy and a Senior Showcase giving area Division II and III seniors one last chance to compete in their school uniforms; is a frequent youth league speaker for children and their parents and has run forums for coaches of all sports to enhance physical and mental components. He sees it as a duty to help students understand the role basketball plays in their lives, from their college experiences to their own careers. He speaks with them outside of practice every day and connects them to alumni. Former players have worked in the pros and college ranks while others have developed apps for personal goal tracking and competition. Eslinger hosts a blog melding psychology and performance, opening new channels for him to educate others and ensures his assistants attend clinics and gain hands-on experience running a program.

The NABC annually selects five individuals who best represent the core values of advocacy, education, leadership and service. Eslinger and the other honorees will be presented with their awards at the AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show at the Cullen Theater at Wortham Center in Houston on Sunday, Apr. 3.

Eslinger’s squad made history in numerous ways this season, including the program’s record seventh SCIAC win in a season, which broke the title-winning 1953-54 team’s mark of six. The Beavers also defeated Occidental College three times in a season, another first since 1944-45, and spent a total of 22 days with at least a share of the top position in the conference standings. Junior Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) re-set his own single-season and single-game records for blocks, with 64 total and eight at SCIAC champion Chapman University on Jan. 20, while Caltech set new single-season team marks for points (1,566), rebounds (951) and blocks (105). During Eslinger’s tenure, the Beavers have broken nearly every single-season program record and seen several join the exclusive 1,000-point and 500-rebound clubs.

It is no surprise that his players have excelled in the classroom as well. Al-Rayes became only the second Beaver in program history to be named CoSIDA Academic All-District this past year – the first was Ryan Elmquist in 2010-11. Four Beavers have received the Ted Ducey Award, which recognizes four-year leadership as well as athletic and academic success. As a team, the Beavers have been named to the NABC Honors Court every year the award has existed, while more than 20 have been recognized individually as NABC Honors Court recipients and Academic All-SCIAC.