With the impending retirement of legendary women’s basketball Head Coach Brian Giorgis, the attention turns to his successor, Erin Doughty.
While she might not have known it at the time, Doughty has been molded for the role since first stepping onto the campus of Marist College, where she started her career as a freshman on the basketball team.
“She’s always impressed me, I mean, my first day on the job, per se, was her first day here as a freshman. And she’s always impressed me,” Giorgis said.
Starting out as a walk-on, the expectations for her were not as high as they were for recruited players. But with her hard work and dedication, she earned the trust of the coaching staff. Then came her senior season, where the possibility of a coaching career picked up steam.
“Her senior year, when our third assistant left because her mom had cancer, she had to help take care of nine kids,” Giorgis said. “We asked her if she’d be a student coach. The first meeting that I ever had with her, I was like, ‘oh my God, she’s providing more than this, than the second assistant.’ And that’s when she first really started to impress me.”
Leading a meeting as an assistant coach, let alone a first-time student coach, is no small feat. By sharing her insight into the game, she was able to immediately gain the respect she so rightly deserved.
This would eventually lead to an even larger role for Doughty, as she became the head of scouting in addition to being an assistant coach.
“That’s my favorite thing to do is breaking down another team, and figuring out what we can do against them to make us successful,” Doughty said.
It’s no secret that her scouting abilities were of great importance, assisting the Red Foxes to a MAAC record of 35 straight wins against conference opponents between the 2006-2007 season, and the 2008-2009 season. She was also part of a 34-game win streak against MAAC foes between the 2009-2010 season and the 2011-2012 season.
Those win streaks have held strong, as no other MAAC team has eclipsed these unfathomable records. Giorgis, Doughty, and the rest of the Marist program were a force to be reckoned with for over a decade.
This joint success would help the Red Foxes acquire 13 total MAAC regular season championships with a conference-best 11 MAAC championships. Doughty also helped bring the team to new heights; in 2007 Marist became the first MAAC team in history to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Together, they would reach several more NCAA tournaments, including nine straight from 2006-2014. Marist’s most recent appearance came as the No. 15 seed in 2021, where they would match up with No. 2 Louisville. Though they lost the game, their accomplishments held the same impact.
Since then, the results haven’t been what the program is accustomed to, with the team failing to have an above .500 record or post any MAAC Tournament wins in the last two seasons. Near the end of the 2021-22 season, Giorgis announced his retirement following the 2022-2023 season, with Doughty set to take over the head role on Apr. 1, 2023.
The responsibilities are familiar to her and the transition of power will not be a steep climb. Doughty has taken even more responsibility in recent years, as she was given the title of associate head coach.
“She obviously impressed me enough throughout the years, but no more than 2020 when COVID was really heading in and we had to move to all these different places,” Giorgias said. “I mostly coached from the sideline, and she was the person out there and we won the league championship. And I was impressed enough that I took the coach of the year plaque and put her name on it instead of mine.”
That same trophy sits proudly in her office, a testament to how she has adjusted to the primary play-calling duties. Not only has she earned the respect of Giorgis, but the respect of the players under her command.
“They love her. They love her kids, and, you know, everything that she’s done for the program, they know what she’s done,” said Giorgis.
This love and admiration will make for a smooth transition, as Doughty herself had brought in most of the players on the current roster.
“A lot of our roster I’ve recruited, so I’ve known them for a long time now. And I’ve built what I hope are fairly strong relationships. So you know, they’re great,” Doughty said. “They encourage all of us, but they’re always saying like, ‘You’re doing great. We’re so excited for next year.’ They say things like that all the time.”
The combination of earned respect and experience with the program set has set her up for success. She has been with countless successful teams, knowing what it means to be a winner. But when she takes over, she wants to do it her way.
“Hopefully, I’ve gathered enough from him that I know what it takes. But I also kind of like, say, I want to wear my own shoes and walk my own path,” she said. “But obviously, there’s a bar and an expectation that’s been set here that we’re going to continue to strive for. So I see it as a challenge. But I also see it as a major compliment that Marist trusts me to hopefully continue that legacy.”
Giorgis is leaving behind a legacy that not many can potentially strive for. But if there is anyone that could fill that void, it is absolutely her.
As Giorgis said repeatedly, “She’s more than ready.”
Editor’s note: Doughty officially took control of the women’s basketball program on Apr. 1.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Luke Sassa
Photo Credit: Luke Sassa