In a moment that I never saw coming, Akron Zips basketball coach Keith Dambrot has reportedly accepted an offer to become the head coach at Duquesne.
Dambrot has been the head coach at Akron since 2004, posting a 305-138 during his tenure. He led the Zips to three MAC (Mid-American Conference) tournament victories along with three NCAA tournament appearances (2009, 2011, 2013). He was recognized as the MAC head coach of the year three times (2013, 2016, 2017).
He’s even produced some assistants who later became head coaches in Divison I basketball. Jeff Boals who is now the head coach at Stony Brook and Shaka Smart who is the head coach at Texas.
It’s a curious decision by Dambrot to leave a program he’s won at least 19 games every season he’s been head coach to a program that’s won at least 19 games twice in a season since 1980 and hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1977
I understand the ties to the program considering his father was there in the 1950s when they were one of the top teams in the country but he had something special in Akron not just with the Zips program.
After making some controversial statements at Central Michigan in the early 1990s, Dambrot was “blackballed” from college coaching for sometime.
He became the head coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 1998 and got the dynasty rolling for the Fighting Irish. Dambrot posted a 69-10 record in three seasons and two state championships led by a player named Lebron James. He also coached Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce who later went on to play for Dambrot at Akron.
He then left St. Vincent-St Mary in 2001 to take an assistant job at the University of Akron. Then becoming the head coach in 2004, he’s had nothing but success as I’ve mentioned above.
He’s going to the Atlantic-10 conference which has teams like Dayton, Xavier, St. Joseph’s, VCU, and Davidson. Teams that have made some deep runs in the NCAA tournament. I think he wants to prove that he can get teams to 25+ win seasons like he did at Akron but also get the opportunity to show what he can do in the tournament when given the opportunity.
He always had to win the MAC tournament to get to the Big Dance, that’s not the case with a team like Duquesne because they play a tough enough schedule to be a possible “At-Large” team in the tournament. Problem is he’s going to have rebuild that whole program from the ground up and it might not show right away.
Dambrot has been always been a good recruiter and got the best out of what he brings in. I’m sure he’ll have success because he’s that good of a coach. And if he does, it could land him an even bigger coaching gig with an even better basketball program.