January 27, 2014
by Larry Leeds, Madison Daily Leader Sports Editor - Jan. 24
MADISON, S.D. - Dakota State University men's basketball head coach Gary Garner reached a milestone on Jan. 18 when the Trojans beat the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Garner picked up the 450th win of his collegiate career.
"I never thought about hitting 450. I take one game at a time," he said.
Garner has been coaching for 42 years, but during those 42 years, he has served as an assistant coach and was head coach at a junior college for nine years. His wins at the junior college level do not count in the 450 wins.
This is Garner's fifth year at DSU and he currently has a 78-65 record at DSU.
When Garner came to DSU, the program was down a little and with good recruits he started to build the program back up.
"We are continuing to build the program each year," he said.
While growing up, Garner always had a passion for basketball and played at the University of Missouri, where he was a captain for the Tigers. The coaching itch hit him when he was a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri.
He said he enjoys molding kids into a team.
"There has been a lot of change during my coaching tenure," he said, "but fundamentals still win games."
According to Garner, the players today are more talented. The rule changes with the 3-point shot and the shot clock have had a big impact on the game, he said.
Even though there have been changes to the game, Garner's philosophy hasn't wavered.
"It all starts on the defensive end for my teams and taking care of the basketball," he said.
Before coming to DSU, Garner was an assistant coach for the Iowa Energy, a team with the NBA Development League, for two seasons (2007-08 and 2008-09). He served as head basketball coach at Southeast Missouri State University from 1997-2006. From 1991-97, he led the men's team at Fort Hays State University (Kan.). His 1995-96 team won the NCAA Division II Tournament, capping a perfect 34-0 season. The same year, Garner was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Garner also served stints as head coach at Drake University and Missouri Southern University. He has been an assistant at the University of Missouri and Tulsa University.
His undefeated Fort Hays State team is a still a special team for him, as are the NCAA Division I tournament team at Southeast Missouri and the Drake team that qualified for the NIT.