The Keith Dambrot File
Collegiate Head Coaching Record Year-By-Year:
|1985-86||Tiffin||24-9||• 24 wins was single season school record|
|Tiffin Totals:||40-23||(.635 - two seasons)|
|1989-90||Ashland||22-8||• Won school’s first-ever league and regional titles|
|Ashland Totals:||48-13||(.787 - two seasons)|
|1991-92||Central Michigan||8-18||• 1992 recruiting class ranked 15th nationally|
|CMU Totals:||20-34||(.370 - two seasons)|
|2004-05||Akron||19-10||• UA's most wins since 1988-89|
|2005-06||Akron||23-10||• NIT Second Round|
|2006-07||Akron||26-7||• MAC East Division Champions
|2007-08||Akron||24-11||• NIT Second Round
|2008-09||Akron||23-13||• NCAA Tournament First Round
|2009-10||Akron||24-11||• College Basketball Invitational
|2010-11||Akron||23-13||• NCAA Tournament Second Round
|2011-12||Akron||22-12||• NIT First Round|
|2012-13||Akron||26-7||• NCAA Tournament Second Round; First national ranking|
|2013-14||Akron||21-13||• CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament
|2014-15||Akron||21-14||• 10th-straight 21+ win season|
|Akron Totals:||252-121||(.676 - 11 seasons)
|Career Totals:||360-191||(.652 - 17 seasons)
High School Head Coaching Record Year-By-Year:
69-10 in three seasons (at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary HS)
• Two Ohio state high school titles
|1998-99||16-9||• Regional Runner-Up|
|1999-2000||27-0||• State Champions|
|2000-01||26-1||• State Champions|
|TOTALS:||69-10||(.873 – three seasons)|
Birthdate: Oct. 26, 1958
Education: 1982 – B.S. degree from Akron; 1984 – M.B.A degree from Akron
Collegiate Playing Career: 1979-82 – Baseball (Akron)
High School: Firestone High School (Akron)
Family: Married to Donna Dambrot; Children - Alysse and Rob
Keith Dambrot's motivation for success is different than most head coaches at the Division I level. His commitment has seen the Akron basketball program grow into one of the top mid-majors in the nation. This drive doesn't stem from thoughts of career stepping stones, but from his allegiance to his hometown and alma mater.
Dambrot became the 21st head coach of Akron men's basketball on March 10, 2004. On Sept. 23, 2013, he signed a one-year contract extension to be head coach of the Zips through the 2022-23 season.
Dambrot wasted no time putting his stamp on the program and has led Akron to the postseason in eight of the last 10 seasons – participating in the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2011 and 2013, the National Invitation Tournament in 2006, 2008 and 2012, the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) in 2010 and the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament in 2014.
His success ranks the Zips with some of the top programs in the nation. Akron is one of only five teams in the country to win at least 21 games in each of the past 10 seasons, joining the likes of Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas and Ohio State. In fact, Akron has won at least 19 games in each of Dambrot’s 11 seasons, making the Zips one of 11 programs to do so since the start of the 2004-05 campaign (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, VCU and Wisconsin).
UA leads the Mid-American Conference in overall wins since the start of the 2004-05 season (252) and is tied for 30th nationally in overall wins during that stretch.
Dambrot is one of just eight coaches to own an active streak of 10 or more consecutive seasons of 20-plus wins at the same school, and shares the sixth-longest streak of consecutive 20-win seasons with Steve Fisher (San Diego State) and Dave Rose (BYU).
Dambrot has led Akron to the MAC Tournament semifinals in 10-straight years, including seven title game appearances in the last nine seasons. The Zips’ run of consecutive semifinal appearances is tied for the longest streak in MAC history.
In his 11 seasons in charge of the program, Akron has amassed a 252-121 (.676) overall record, including a 128-56 mark in MAC play and a 147-23 tally in home games (78-14 in MAC play at home).
In 17 seasons as a collegiate head coach, he owns a 360-190 (.655) overall record. Dambrot enters the 2015-16 season in sixth place in MAC history with a .637 win percentage while coaching in the league (272-155 overall; 252-121 Akron), fourth in overall wins (272), fourth in conference wins (138) and sixth in league games winning percentage (.637, 138-80).
In 2013, Dambrot was named the MAC Coach of the Year and the Red Auerbach Coach of the year, as well as a finalist for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award (national COY) and the Hugh Durham Award, which recognizes the nation's top mid-major coach.
Mentoring a total of 31 All-MAC honorees, 13 MAC All-Tournament team selections, four MAC Sixth Man of the Year honors, four MAC Defensive Players of the Year, three MAC tournament MVPs and one MAC player of the year award has highlighted his time at UA.
Also during his watch, 11 players have been added to the school's 1,000-point scorers list, he coached the all-time blocked shots leader for Akron and the MAC (Zeke Marshall, 368), Akron's all-time assists leader (Dru Joyce, 503), all-time winningest player (Chris McKnight, 97 victories over a four-season span) and all-time games played leaders (Steve McNees and Nikola Cvetinovic, 141).
In 2010, Dambrot was inducted into the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, and at The University of Akron as both a student-athlete and head coach.
The University has increased its footprint on the national level under Dambrot. On the heels of the nation's-best 19-game winning streak during the 2012-13 campaign, the Zips earned the No. 24 ranking in the Feb. 25 USA TODAY Coaches Poll, the first national ranking in program history. UA also received a program-best 43 votes in the AP Poll that week.
The Zips have gained the attention of the national pollsters on five separate occasions prior to 2013, including the Nov. 9, 2012, and Nov. 12, 2007, AP Polls, and the 2003-04 preseason, Nov. 18, 2003, 1985-86 final coaches polls. Additionally, UA has closed out six of the last eight campaigns ranked in the final CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.
Akron continues to play in a number of nationally televised games and has finished inside the RPI Top-100 in three of the last four seasons, including a program-best 48th in 2012-13. The program has not been afraid to compete against teams from the ACC, Big East, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, A-10, MWC, MVC and WAC. In 2014-15, Akron posted 2-2 record against Power Five Conference opponents, marking the first time in program history that Akron has posted at least two wins over Power Five Conference members in the same season and the fourth-straight campaign with at least one win over a Power Five Conference opponent.
With Dambrot in charge, the program tallied its first-ever victories over schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference (at Florida State in the 2008 NIT) and Southeastern Conference (versus Mississippi State during the 2005-06 regular season at the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico).
THE DAMBROT ERA HIGHLIGHTS
After guiding the Zips to a 19-10 record in the 2004-05 season, the program finished the 2005-06 campaign with a 23-10 mark, which at the time was the most wins in the program's Division I era, and also notched the school's first D-I postseason victory – an 80-73 overtime win at Temple in the opening round of the NIT. UA also posted a 13-0 mark at Rhodes Arena that year, and extended its win streak at home to 18 games, which ranked as the third-longest nationally at the time.
In 2006-07, Dambrot led Akron to a school-record tying 26-7 mark (1971-72 team went 26-5) and its first MAC East Division title since 1998. Additionally, the program made its first-ever appearance in the MAC tournament championship game, falling 53-52 on a 3-point buzzer-beater. The Zips ran their win streak at home to 21 games, with a 73-71 loss to top-25 ranked Nevada blemishing what was the fourth-best streak nationally at the time. UA ended the campaign 13-1 at Rhodes Arena.
Senior forward Romeo Travis capped off his career by being selected as an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press – the first Zips cager to do so since 1989. Travis was also honored as the MAC Player of the Year, the first in the history of the UA program, and was named to the all-league first team, MAC All-Tournament Team and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 10 Second Team for the second-straight season.
In 2007-08, Dambrot and the Zips provided their fan base with another year filled with excitement and milestones, ending the season with a 24-11 record and an 11-5 finish in league play. UA again advanced to the MAC tournament title game. For the second time in three seasons, the Zips made their way to the second round of the NIT – this time knocking off Florida State 65-60 in OT in the opening round. That was the program's first-ever victory over a school from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Zips lost 68-63 to eventual NIT runner-up Massachusetts in the second round.
Dambrot's 2008-09 squad went 23-13 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first-ever MAC Tournament championship against Buffalo. The Zips earned a No. 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament and fell to Gonzaga in the first round, 77-64, after leading with just over nine minutes to play. Competing in 36 overall games, it was the longest season in program history.
During the 2009-10 season, Dambrot's squad went 24-11 and made its fourth-straight appearance in the MAC Title Game. The Zips made their third-consecutive postseason appearance and fourth in five years, playing in the College Basketball Invitational game for the first time.
The 2010-11 season saw many ups and downs, but the result was the same as the 2008-09 season. The Zips, 12-10 at one point in the season, won eight-straight games and 12 of their last 15 to win the MAC title for the second time in three seasons and advance to the program's third NCAA Tournament. With a 23-13 record, Akron faced Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as the No. 15 seed. The Zips fell 69-56 to the Fighting Irish.
The 2011-12 campaign was a season of firsts as the Zips won their first MAC regular season title and became the first league team to play in six-straight conference tournament title games. Akron advanced to its third NIT under Dambrot after falling in the MAC Title Game by a single point. Dambrot also became the first Akron coach to be named to the NABC all-district list, earning co-district coach of the year honors.
In addition to the program's first national ranking and a program-best finish in the RPI standings during the 2012-13 campaign, Dambrot's Zips tied the program record with 26 wins (26-7), posted the nation's longest winning streak (19-straight) and the best start to league play in MAC history (13-0), won its second-straight MAC regular season title, posted a 19-point win over Ohio in the MAC title game and earned a program-best No. 12 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
The 2013-14 campaign saw the Zips win 21 games for a ninth-straight season and advance to postseason play for a seventh-consecutive year. Akron finished the season inside top RPI Top-100 for a third-consecutive campaign and advanced to the MAC Tournament semifinals for a ninth-straight year.
The 2014-15 season saw the Zips overcome several injuries to post their 10th-straight 21-win season and making in the program’s 10th-straight MAC Tournament semifinal appearance.
CAREER COACHING EXPERIENCE
Dambrot received his M.B.A from Akron in 1984 while serving as a graduate assistant under former men's basketball coach Bob Rupert.
After two years as a graduate assistant, he moved up to a full-time role with the Zips for one season, before taking the head coaching job at Tiffin. In his second season there (1985-86), he led the Dragons to the most single-season wins in school history (24).
In 1986, he made his first venture into the MAC, starting a three-year run as an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan and worked alongside then head coach Ben Braun (who served as head coach at California and is now at Rice). In 1988, the Hurons won their first-ever MAC championship and made their first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Dambrot returned to northeast Ohio in 1989 as head coach at Ashland, where, in two years, he led the Eagles to a 48-13 overall mark, two final national rankings and their first-ever conference and regional championships.
In 1991, he returned to the MAC and took on his first Division I head coaching role at Central Michigan. His 1992 recruiting class was ranked 15th in the nation by Hoop Scoop Magazine and he led the Chippewas to a 20-34 record in his two seasons.
THE DAMBROT COACHING TREE
A key part to Keith Dambrot's success has come from the knowledge and expertise of his coaching staff. The Akron coaching staff is one of the only staffs in the country comprised completely of former players, both from Akron and his previous coaching stops. Dambrot's current staff features three former players from Akron, including Zips' assistant coaches Terry Weigand (1985-86), Rick McFadden (2003-05) and Director of Basketball Operations Steve McNees (2008-11), as well as assistant coach Charles Thomas (1987-89), who played for Dambrot at Eastern Michigan.
Former assistant coaches under Dambrot have also had success after leaving Akron, including the appointments of Lamont Paris (2004-present) and Jeff Boals (2006-present) to positions with Big 10 programs Wisconsin and Ohio State respectively.
Shaka Smart, a Dambrot assistant from 2003-06, made stops at Clemson (2006-08) and Florida (2008-09) before taking his first head coach position at VCU in 2009. Smart went on to lead VCU to the 2011 Final Four and was named head coach at Texas on April 3.
THE AKRON CONNECTION
An Akron native, Dambrot spent his formative years roaming the UA campus and attending basketball games in the program's old gymnasium, Memorial Hall.
This is also the community that educated him. Four years at nearby Firestone High School provided the foundation for a bachelor's and master's degree from the University.
Dambrot's late mother, Faye, was a trend-setting professor at the University, teaching in the psychology department from 1966-89, and being instrumental in forming the women's studies program. Calling her a heralded member of the faculty and community is an understatement.
In recent years, Dambrot became known as the man responsible for bringing the modest Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School boy's basketball team into the national spotlight. As head coach of the Fighting Irish, his teams won a pair of state championships in 2000 and 2001. A key component to those squads was three-time NBA MVP LeBron James (his freshman and sophomore seasons).
Dambrot helped develop James. At the age of 13, the future NBA MVP and All-Star participated in $1 clinics Dambrot conducted at the local Jewish Community Center.
James is another example of someone who takes his connection to the Akron community to heart, and is a regular at games in UA's Rhodes Arena and off-season team workouts.
It's building off of experiences like that motivates this head coach, who has worked as hard as any in the nation since assuming his post.
The University's decision makers seem keyed into Dambrot's unique situation, one that seems to provide good perspective of this geographic region along with a sound formula for success.
Dambrot began his assistant coaching tenure at UA in June 2001 following three seasons at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High. In that time he led the school to a 69-10 record, including a 27-0 mark in 1999-2000. In his final two seasons at the school, the Irish were state champions and garnered national rankings by USA Today.
A former three-year starter, team captain and team MVP for the Zips' baseball team (played third base), Dambrot graduated from the University with a bachelor's of science degree in management in 1982.
In his time on the UA baseball diamond, Dambrot set the school's all-time record for getting hit by a pitch, coming in the line of fire 28 times (that record has since been surpassed).
Dambrot's blood is rich with basketball tradition. His late uncle, Irwin Dambrot, played for the 1950 City College of New York (CCNY) squad, which is the only school to win both the NCAA Tournament and NIT in the same season. Irwin was the MVP of the NCAA Tournament that season and the No. 1 draft pick (selected seventh overall) by the New York Knicks that same year.
Dambrot's father, Sid, starred at Duquesne during the 1952, '53 and '54 seasons. The Dukes competed in the NCAA Tournament and the NIT in '52, and the NIT in the '53 and '54 campaigns.
Dambrot resides in Fairlawn with his wife, Donna, and two children, Alysse and Rob. Rob followed in his father's footsteps when he began his Akron career as a student-athlete with the men's soccer program in 2013. Alysse also followed in her father's footsteps and received her undergraduate degree from Akron.