Greg McDermott successful basketball coach from WSC


Katie Herek

Greg McDermott, Ted Herek, Millie Bauman at one of Creighton’s Missouri Valley Championship runs in St. Louis, MO. Taken by Katie Herek

Ryan Herek, News Writer

Greg McDermott is considered one of the most successful college basketball coaches in the country and he got his start right here at Wayne State College.

Although he has come far since his first head coaching position at WSC he still has not forgotten about his time in Wayne. “I loved Wayne,” McDermott, the head coach at Creighton University, said. “Really enjoyed my time at Wayne State. I still have many good friends that I have remained in contact with and obviously we had a great experience with our basketball program at the time as well.”

McDermott came into a basketball program that had gone through five straight losing seasons and he was able to turn the program around and record a winning season during his first year as Head Coach. “I really give a lot of credit to the seniors on that team, they really bought in to me and my coaching staff,” McDermott said.

In his time at WSC, from 1994-2000, McDermott recorded a 116-53 record and had four consecutive 20-win seasons. Wayne State hosted a Division II regional tournament as an independent team which was almost unheard of at the time. “Even though we lost our first game it was an incredible experience not just for our team but for our community in general,.” McDermott said.

McDermott came into WSC and really energized the basketball program and the student body. “It was hands down the best coached team in Division II, Ryan Schwarz, Wayne State graduate class of 2000, said. “The synergy of Nebraska and Iowa talent nearly took them to the top! The games here were packed it was fast paced and great team play.”

“Going to basketball games became a huge thing to do on campus, the vibe was electric, and students were always in line to see the team play” Tim Schuman, Wayne State graduate class of 1998, said.

Recruiting in Division I and Division II are a completely different game. McDermott did not have the same national pull he does now being the Head Coach at Creighton. “Most of the guys I recruited were from Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin” McDermott said. “It was especially challenging because at that time we weren’t in a conference, we were an independent. We were trying to put together a competitive enough schedule so that if we were successful, we could make the NCAA tournament.”

Greg McDermott’s 1999-2000 team went 26-6 and made the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. McDermott was named NSIC Coach of the Year in Wayne State’s first year in the conference. Along with Jon Dolliver, Eric Henderson, and Brad Joens all being selected to the NSIC all-conference team.

“Coach Mac is a great, great, human being, a couple of the things that he instilled in us as players was our work ethic and how to treat people the right way,” Jon Dolliver, Wayne State graduate class of 2000 and basketball player under Greg McDermott, said. I would not say we were the most talented team out there but every time we stepped on the floor, we were the best coached.”

“Coach McDermott cared genuinely about his players,” Dolliver said. I am not as young as I used to be, and he is still the first person to text me happy birthday every year and that just speaks about the kind of person he is.”

Outside of basketball McDermott enjoyed his time in Wayne. “In the off season I played a lot of golf at Wayne Country Club,” McDermott said. “Wayne was pretty small so even after games we went to the Max, players would stay up in the front us coaches would stay in the back. I did everything that everyone else does, go to the Max swing by the White Dog, but the golf course is where I spent most of my time.”

McDermott was inducted into the Wayne State athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 7, 2006. “Any time you receive an honor like that it is very humbling, but I’ve been in this coaching business long enough to realize that you are only as good as the guys that play for you and the coaches that are with you and I was lucky enough to have a great coaching staff when I was there and great players,” McDermott said.

Since his time at WSC, McDermott was a Head Coach at North Dakota State, his alma mater Northern Iowa, Iowa State, and is currently the Head Coach at Creighton University. He led Creighton to back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference championships all while coaching his son Doug to became one of the top 10 scorers in college basketball history. Creighton then transitioned to the Big East conference where he led the Jays to a regular season conference title in 2020 and a Sweet Sixteen berth in the 2021 season.

Photo of the 1999-2000 Wayne State Basketball team. Photo from the Wayne State College athletics website. (Wayne State College athletics website)