The Keith Dambrot File
Collegiate Head Coaching
Year School Record Notable
1985-86 Tiffin 24-9 • 24 wins was single season school record
Tiffin Totals 40-23 (.635 - two seasons)
22-8 • Won
school’s first-ever league and regional titles
1990-91 Ashland 26-5
Ashland Totals 48-13 (.787 - two seasons)
1991-92 Central Michigan
• 1992 recruiting class ranked 15th nationally
1992-93 Central Michigan 12-16
CMU Totals 20-34 (.370 - two seasons)
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
Akron Totals 184-87 (.679 - eight seasons)
Career Totals 292-157 (.650 - 14 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
Year Record Notable
1998-99 16-9 • Regional Runner-Up
1999-00 27-0 • State Champions
2000-01 26-1 • State Champions
Totals 69-10 (.873)
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 July 20, 2012, he signed a new 10-year contract to be head coach of the Zips through the 2021-22 season.
Dambrot wasted no time putting his stamp on the program and has led Akron to the postseason in five-straight and six of the last seven seasons – participating in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2011, the National Invitation Tournament in 2006, 2008 and 2012, and the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) in 2010.
His success ranks the Zips with some of the top programs in the nation. Akron is one of only seven teams in the country to win at least 22 games in each of the past six seasons, joining the likes of Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Utah State. UA leads the Mid-American Conference in overall wins since the start of the 2004-05 season (184) and is the only team in the league, and one of 17 nationally, to post at least 20 wins in each of the past seven seasons.
Dambrot's streak of seven-straight 20-win seasons is tied for the 10th-longest stretch by an active coach to do so all with the same program and is tied for the 13th-longest run in the nation among active coaches overall.
The Zips have won at least 22 games in each of the last seven seasons – a feat unmatched in program history. Dambrot has led Akron to the MAC Tournament title game in each of the last six years the longest streak in league history and the second-longest active run in the nation.
In his eight seasons in charge of the program, Akron has amassed a 184-87 (.679) overall record, including a 93-39 mark in MAC play and a 104-17 tally in home games (57-9 in MAC play). Akron's 184 victories are tied for 31st-best nationally during the past eight seasons.
In 13 seasons as a collegiate head coach he owns a 292-157 (.650) overall record. Dambrot enters the season in the top-10 in MAC history in overall winning percentage as a league coach (fifth, .628), tied for fifth in overall wins as a MAC coach (204), sixth in MAC winning percentage (.620) and seventh in MAC wins (103).
Named the 2009 Best Mid-Major Coach by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, Dambrot's time at UA has been highlighted by mentoring a total of 23 All-MAC honorees, 11 MAC All-Tournament team selections, three Sixth Man of the Year honors, three Defensive Players of the Year, two tournament MVPs and one player of the year award. Also during his watch, eight players have been added to the school's 1,000-point scorer's list and he coached Akron's all-time assists leader (Dru Joyce, 503), all-time blocked shots leader (Zeke Marshall, 246), all-time winningest player (Chris McKnight, 97 victories over a four-season span) and the 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. He was also a finalist for the Red Auerbach Coach of the Year Award, which is awarded by the Jewish Coaches Association.
INCREASED NATIONAL EXPOSURE
The University has increased its footprint on the national level under Dambrot. Throughout his tenure, the Zips have gained the attention of the national pollsters, receiving votes in the Associated Press poll on three separate occasions in 2007-08, after closing out the 2006-07 campaign on the "others receiving votes" listing in the final AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Additionally, UA has closed out five of the last seven campaigns ranked in the final CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 – finishing on the "others receiving votes" listing in 2011-12 and 2009-10, 25th in 2008-09, 21st in 2007-08, 10th in 2006-07 and 23rd in 2005-06. UA has peaked as high as No. 5 in the mid-major poll, doing so in the Jan. 28, 2008, edition.
Also under Dambrot, Akron has played in a number of nationally televised games and has been recognized by numerous national publications. The program has also not been afraid to compete against teams from the ACC, Big East, SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, A-10, MWC, MVC and WAC.
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, YEAR-BY-YEAR
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 also 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, surpassing the 35 contests during the 2007-08 campaign.
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. Akron's 35 games marked the third-straight year the Zips appeared in 35 or more contests.
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. Just like the 2008-09 campaign, UA had to win four games in five days at the MAC Tournament, capped off by a 66-65 overtime thriller over archrival Kent State.
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. Four Zips garnered league honors, including Marshall (Second-Team All-MAC, Defensive Player of the Year), Alex Abreu (Second-Team All-MAC), Nikola Cvetinovic (Third-Team All-MAC) and Quincy Diggs (Sixth Man of the Year). Dambrot also became the first Akron coach to be named to the NABC all-district list, earning co-district coach of the year honors.
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. Comprised primarily of former players, both from Akron and his previous coaching stops, Dambrot's current staff includes five former players, including Zips' assistant coaches Terry Weigand (Tiffin, 1985-86), Rick McFadden (Akron, 2003-05) and Charles Thomas (Eastern Michigan, 1987-89), as well as graduate managers Matt Futch (Akron, 2003-06) and Steve McNees (Akron, 2008-11).
Former assistant coaches under Dambrot have also had success after leaving Akron, including the appointments of Lamont Paris (2004-10) and Jeff Boals (2006-09) 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 and posting a 27-9 record during the 2009-10 campaign. Smart went on to lead VCU to the 2011 Final Four with a 28-12 record.
AN AKRON NATIVE
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.
"We have high expectations for every aspect of our institution, including intercollegiate athletics," University President Dr. Luis M. Proenza said. "Much like the University, Keith Dambrot has a long history with and extensive connections in northeast Ohio."
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. Alysse has followed in her father's footsteps and is pursuing an undergraduate degree at UA.