OFFICIAL: Keith Dambrot Named Head Basketball Coach at Duquesne

Photo Courtesy Duquesne Athletics

Keith Dambrot, who built Akron into one of the most successful – and most respected – programs in the Mid-American Conference over the past 13 seasons, has been named head men’s basketball coach at Duquesne University, Director of Athletics Dave Harper announced today.

Dambrot, who led the Zips to 10 postseason appearances, is the 17th head coach in the 101-year history of Duquesne basketball.

“From the moment we started this search, it was always about finding the right person and coach to lead our men’s basketball program,” said Harper. “Keith’s combination of experience, leadership, and success is almost unmatched. We are blessed to have Keith leading our program. Beginning today, we will roll up our sleeves and purposefully work each day to ensure Duquesne is a highly valued member of the Atlantic 10 and target competing at the top of the conference in men’s basketball.”

“I am pleased to welcome Keith, Donna and the Dambrot family to our Bluff,” said Duquesne University President Ken Gormley. “Just as Keith’s father, Sid, helped make the Duquesne name synonymous with college basketball in the 1950s, we look forward to Keith energizing our program as we embark on a new era of Duquesne basketball.”

Akron, under Dambrot’s guidance, is one of only four schools – along with Duke, Gonzaga and Kansas – to win 21 or more games in each of the past 12 seasons.

“I am truly honored and blessed to be the head coach at Duquesne University,” said Dambrot. “Today marks a new day for Duquesne basketball. We are here to build a program that our campus and community will embrace. We need to unite together. Everyone from our administration, faculty and staff, alums, students, and the Pittsburgh community will play a role in our success. I look forward to all the great things ahead for Duquesne.”

Dambrot, whose father Sid played for Duquesne from 1952-54, posted a school record 305 wins at Akron. The three-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year, went 155-65 in regular-season conference play and 27-10 in 13 MAC Tournament appearances – highlighted by tournament championships and NCAA tournament bids in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

The 58-year-old Dambrot brings a 413-209 overall record in 19 seasons as a head coach to the Bluff.

In his 13 seasons at Akron, Dambrot’s Zips finished no worse than third 12 times in regular season play. His teams averaged 23.5 wins in annually contending for the MAC title.

The Akron native took over at his alma mater prior to the 2004-05 season and immediately put his stamp on the program by leading the Zips to a 19-10 record. The 19 wins were the program’s most since 1989.

In year two, UA posted 23 wins and in 2006-07 Dambrot began a stretch of seven-straight MAC Tournament championship game appearances.

In 2015-16, Akron set the MAC record for the longest streak of consecutive semifinal appearances in MAC Tournament history at 11. The Zips made it 12 in a row in 2016-17, on the way to a program-best 27 wins (27-9).

Dambrot, who was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2013, 2016 and 2017, coached a total of 18 Akron players who earned first, second or third team All-MAC honors.

Dambrot coached the MAC’s all-time leading shot blocker, Pittsburgh native Zeke Marshall (368 blocks), Akron’s all-time assists leader Dru Joyce (503), UA’s all-time winningest player Chris McKnight (97 victories over a four-season span) and Akron’s all-time games played leaders in Steve McNees and Nikola Cvetinovic (141).

Nationally, Dambrot brought attention to the Akron program with a Division I-best 19-game winning streak in 2012-13. The Zips earned the No. 24 ranking in the Feb. 25 USA Today Coaches Poll that season, marking the first national ranking in program history.

In 2014-15, Akron posted a 2-2 record against Power Five conference opponents, marking the first time in program history that Akron had at least two wins over Power Five members (Southern California and South Carolina) in the same season.

Dambrot led Akron to its first-ever victories over schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference (at Florida State in the 2008 NIT) and Southeastern Conference (vs. Mississippi State in 2005-06).

Dambrot got his start in coaching at Akron, where he spent two years as a graduate assistant and one season as a full-time assistant before taking the head coaching job at Tiffin. In his second season (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 where he worked under head coach Ben Braun. 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 where he spent two seasons. His 1992 recruiting class was ranked 15th in the nation by Hoop Scoop Magazine.

In his 19 years as a head coach, Dambrot has seen a number of his former assistants enjoy success at the Division I level, including Wisconsin associate head coach Lamont Paris and Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals.

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, who went on to lead VCU to the 2011 Final Four, was named head coach at Texas in April of 2015.

Prior to beginning his assistant coaching tenure at Akron in 2001, Dambrot compiled a 69-10 record in three seasons as head coach at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. In his final two seasons, the Irish – led by freshman then sophomore LeBron James – were state champions and earned national rankings from USA Today.

Dambrot played a role in the development of James who, at the age of 13, participated in $1 clinics Dambrot conducted at the local Jewish Community Center.

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.

A native of Akron, Dambrot graduated from UA with a degree in management in 1982, and added a master’s in business administration from his alma mater in 1984.

He was a three-year starter, captain and team MVP as a third baseman for the Akron baseball team as an undergrad. A testament to his grit, Dambrot finished his career as the school record holder for hit by pitches (28).

Although he played baseball in college, basketball played a major role in Dambrot’s early years.

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.

Keith’s father, Sid, was part of Duquesne teams that finished ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 in 1952 (No. 4), 1953 (No. 9) and 1954 (No. 5). The 1954 team, which went 26-3, made it to No. 1 in the AP poll for two weeks in February of 1954.

The Dukes played in both the NCAA tournament and NIT in `52 and the NIT in both `53 and `54.

Dambrot and his wife, Donna, have two children, daughter Alysse and son Rob.

Alysse earned her undergraduate degree as well as an MBA from Akron. Rob is currently a junior on the Pitt soccer team.

Professionally, Dambrot is a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee and was named the committee chairman in August 2015.

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