The 2017-2018 season marks the third year for Todd Eisner as the head coach of the Winona State University men’s basketball program and his 20th overall as a head coach at the college level. Eisner has amassed an overall record of 444-195 in 19 seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level, including a 27-29 mark leading the Warriors since the 2015-2016 campaign.
Last season provided many challenges for the Warrior program as significant injuries to key returning players Kyle Bauman, Corey Jeffs and Charlie Koontz impacted the team’s depth on the frontline throughout the season. WSU finished the 2016-2017 schedule with an overall record of 11-16 (8-14 NSIC). Senior Riley Bambenek was named Second Team All-NSIC for the second time in his career after averaging 15.6 points per game to lead the Warriors. Bambenek, Bauman and fellow senior Isaiah Gray all finished their respective careers at WSU with over 1,000 career points scored.
Sophomores Tommy Gathje and Connor Flack provided optimism for the future as both showed marked improvement in their second season on the hardwood for the Warriors. Gathje took over the starting post position when Bauman missed time with his ankle injury and was a productive scoring option in the paint and around the arc. The 6’8” forward (Bloomington Jefferson H.S.) averaged 11.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game in NSIC contests, while shooting 56% from the floor overall and 38% from the three-point line. Flack, a 6’5” forward from Lakeville North H.S., averaged 8.2 points per game in league play, knocking down 47% of his shots, including 37% from behind the arc.
In 2016-16, Eisner’s first season leading the WSU men’s basketball program, the Warriors finished 16-13 overall and tied for fourth in the NSIC with a 13-9 mark. Kyle Bauman was named Second Team All-NSIC after a productive junior season where he averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds per game. The Warriors led the NSIC in every major defensive statistic, including Defensive Points Per Game Allowed, Defensive Field Goal Percentage and Defensive 3-point Field Goal Percentage.
Eisner came to Winona State University in August 2015 from Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska, where he turned around the MU program in four seasons. Prior to his arrival in Fremont, Midland had won a combined total of 13 games in the previous two years. In his first season, the program had an overall record of 19-12 and finished fourth in the competitive 11-team Great Plains Athletic Conference.
Over the next three seasons, the program continued to make marked improvement. The 2012-2013 season was historic as Midland won 20 games for the first time in school history, finishing 21-13 overall and advancing to the Elite Eight of the NAIA Division II National Tournament. More records were broken the following season as Eisner led Midland to the NAIA II National Championship Game, as MU finished the season with an overall record of 30-6. In his final campaign, Midland won the GPAC Tournament, qualified for the national tournament for the third consecutive year, and finished the 2014-2015 season with a 26-8 record.
Prior to Midland University, Eisner was a head coach at three other NAIA institutions over 13 seasons. He led Benedictine (KS) College for one season in 2010-2011, recording a 16-16 overall record and fourth-place finish in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
For an eight-year period from 2000-2008, Eisner was the lead man at Bellevue (NE) University. Again, taking over a program that had struggled in winning only eight games the season before he arrived, Eisner guided the Bruins to a 23-11 overall record and a conference championship in his first season.
Overall Eisner’s Bellevue teams won 226 games in those eight seasons, winning six conference championships, making it to the national tournament seven times and playing in the NAIA Division II National Championship Game in 2004 and 2008.
Eisner’s first head coaching job was at Viterbo University in LaCrosse from 1995-1999. During his time he led the V-Hawks to a conference championship in 1998 and also a conference tournament championship in 1999, which secured a bid in the NAIA II National Tournament that year. The V-Hawks won their first two games in the tournament to advance to the Elite Eight.
Eisner is the only coach in NAIA II history to take three different programs to the Elite Eight of the national tournament and the only coach to take two different programs to the national championship game, doing so with Bellevue and Midland. For his efforts at Midland University during the national runner-up season in 2014, Eisner was named the Rawlings NAIA II National Coach of the Year.
He also has been an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level for six seasons over two different time periods. After completing his college playing career, Eisner stayed at his alma mater, Creighton University, and was an assistant coach from 1991-1994. The following season, he was an assistant coach for one year at Eastern Illinois University. Eisner returned to Creighton as an assistant coach from 2008-2010 to work for current University of Oregon head coach Dana Altman. During this time the Bluejays tied for the Missouri Valley Conference championship in 2009 and played that year in the NIT.
A Chilton, Wisconsin native, Eisner played for his father, Jim, in high school, leading the team to a WIAA Class B state championship in 1986. He went on to play at Creighton University from 1986-1991 and helped the program to Missouri Valley Conference titles in 1989 and 1991, playing in the NCAA Tournament both years.
Eisner led the MVC in 3-point field goal percentage in 1989 and was named captain of the team prior to his junior year. He graduated with a double major in business management and finance, then completed his master’s degree in sport management from the United States Sports Academy in 2007.
Eisner has recently been honored for some of his accomplishments in the game of basketball. The Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association recognized his high school career, inducting him into their Hall of Fame in 2014. This fall he will be inducted into the Chilton High School Athletics Hall of Fame and the Bellevue University Athletics Hall of Fame in recognition of his coaching tenure with the Bruins.
Eisner is married to Andrea, also a Creighton graduate, who is an elementary principal in the Winona Area Public Schools district. They reside in Winona.