Set to start his 14th year at the helm of the Keene State College men’s basketball program, Rob Colbert is hoping that this is the season the Owls finally climb the mountain and capture an elusive Little East championship and make a return trip to the NCAA tournament.
A veteran team, the Owls have come close the past two seasons, losing heartbreaking double-overtime semifinals tournament games in 2011 to Rhode Island College and last season to Eastern Conn. State.
With a few tweakes along the way, Colbert is confident the Owls have what it takes to capture the conference crown. "That’s our goal each and every year," said Colbert, who returns four starters back from last year's 19-8 (10-4 LEC) team. "I think we’ve come precariously close the last two years. The challenge this year is really configuring the puzzle a little bit. It’s going to take us a little time to figure it out, but we’ll be right there at the end."
Under the direction of Colbert, the Owls have enjoyed unprecedented success. During his tenure, Keene State has not only made 10 post-season appearances, and claimed four conference regular season titles, but captured a first-ever LEC championship and trip to the NCAA Elite-Eight in 2004 and advanced to the Sweet-16 in 2007. During this time, KSC has posted a 256-133 overall record and an impressive 130-66 mark in the LEC. In addition, the program has produced two All-Americans and three LEC Players of the Year, 22 All-LEC players, and ten 1,000-point scorers. Last season, Ryan Martin led Division III in free throw percentage (91.8%) fro the second year in a row.
That Keene State has become a top program under Colbert should come as no surprise. The Warwick, R.I., native coached at every level of college competition, including a two-year stint (1995-97) as an Owls' assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, prior to taking over as Keene State's 11th head coach in 1999. Already working as a high school coach as an undergraduate, Colbert was hired as an assistant coach at Bard College (Annandale, N.Y.) after he graduated from Marist College in 1992. He served for two years as the head men's coach at Dutchess Community College (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.), before coming to Keene State in the fall of 1995.
During his initial stint on the KSC staff, Colbert had the opportunity to bring to the campus many of the players who helped the Owls make an immediate impact in the Little East. He then returned to his alma mater to further his coaching experience and came back to KSC two years later as the Keene State's head coach.
Coach Colbert directs the KSC Boys Basketball Camp each summer and the High Intensity Basketball Camp with former Keene High coach Phil Hebert. Colbert and his wife, Michelle, and sons Andrew and Jack reside in Swanzey, N.H.
|Title:||Associate Head Coach|
Kevin Justice begins his 11th overall campaign with the
Keene State men's basketball program and season
as his fifth season serving as associate head coach.
Justice, who also serves as the school's admission counselor for
multicultural recruitment, will once again be involved in all
facets of the program. His responsibilities will also include
post player development, and player relations.
Originally from Boise Idaho, Justice came to Keene State from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., where he was a four-year member of the basketball team.
Who said you can’t go home again? A former Owl captain who served as student assistant coach while completing his degree, Alphonse Michalski returned to Keene State College’s men’s basketball coaching staff as an assistant coach last season.
Michalski, a native of Northampton, Mass., has kept close tabs on the program since graduating in 2005. “Even when I wasn’t there, I still cared about the program and wanted to see it succeed,” said Michalski. “I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the program when I played. Hopefully, I can bring some of that passion back.”
“Alphonse is going to be our utility infielder. We’ll plug him in where we need him,” said Head Coach Rob Colbert. “He’ll do some recruiting, but his main focus will be practice and game coaching.”
A four-year player for the Owls, Michalski (1999-00, 2001-04) was a member of highly successful Keene State basketball team that earned an NCAA tournament berth. A 1,000-point career scorer who is second in assists (490) and fifth in steals (161) on Keene State’s all-time career list, Michalski played on the Owls’ 2003-2004 team that captured the Little East championship and advanced to the elite-eight of the NCAA tournament.
|High School:||Ridgewood and River Day|
|College:||Keene State College|
A link between the Owls days in Division II, Doug Jenkins begins his second season as a member of Rob Colbert’s coaching staff. A dedicated, hard-working player for Keene State from 1993-97, Jenkins has brought those same attributes to the bench.
“Doug is an exceptional practice coach,” said Colbert. “He’s always looking to see his players improve and is incredibly dedicated and serious with the kids.”
Not only does Jenkins give KSC players instruction and insight into the game, but he always provides them with a sense of the program’s history and a link between Division II and III. “I think all the losses I endured as a player makes me really appreciate the program’s current success,” said Jenkins.
Prior to joining the KSC staff, Jenkins spent 10 years serving in a variety of coaching roles at Keene High, where he helped mentor players as the grade, freshman, and junior varsity coach.
A high-scoring off guard with tremendous range, Jenkins averaged 9.2 points during his four-year KSC career. He shot .365% (189-517) from behind the arc, fourth best on KSC’s all-time list. As a junior, he drained nine three-pointers, finishing with a career high 39 points against Bridgeport University.
Following his playing days, Jenkins served as a student assistant on the 1997-98 team that posted the biggest turnaround of any collegiate program in the country, going from 2-22 to 21-9 during the teams’ first season in Division III and the Little East Conference.
A native of Ridgewood, N.J., Jenkins played high school ball at Ridgewood and Saddle River Day School. He was the leading scorer during his final two seasons at River Day.
When he’s not on the court, Jenkins works in the special education department at Keene Middle School.
|High School:||North Andover|
|College:||Keene State College|
A former four-year player for the Owls, Steve Boudreau has been named an assistant coach with the Keene State College men’s basketball team.
Boudreau, who completed his KSC career last year, is looking forward to the opportunity of coaching at his alma mater. “Becoming a coach was always on my radar,” he said. “When Coach (Rob) Colbert called and asked me to join his staff I was really excited.”
“We’re very excited about Steve joining our staff,” said Colbert.
“He’s the only three-year captain I’ve ever had so he not only knows the program but also has the leadership skills you’re looking for at the position. Steve is a great student of the game and an up- and-comer in our business.”
After earning his degree last May, Boudreau spent the summer working with Phil Rowe, a former Keene State Coach now directing the program at Endicott College. “I learned a lot in those couple of months and it helped me get a head start when I got here,” said Boudreau. “I wasn’t coming in blind.”
A native of North Andover, Mass., Boudreau earned three varsity letters playing at North Andover High where he was All-League and Eagle Tribune All-Star in his final two seasons. His senior team was Division II North Sectional finalists.
Noted for his toughness and high basketball IQ, Boudreau started and came off the bench for Keene State, averaging 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds during his career. He scored a career high 16 against SUNY-New Paltz as a sophomore and had back-to-back 11 point games against Little East Conference rival UMass-Dartmouth as a junior.
Boudreau said he was initially concerned about coaching players who were in teammates the past few seasons. “It was a natural concern because a lot of the guys are my friends, but they’ve been really good about it and have really accepted me in a different role.”
Like his playing days, Boudreau will be a utility coach for the Owls, getting involved in all facets of the program.
Boudreau has high hopes for this year’s team. “We have the ability to be really good and compete for the league title and get back to the NCAA tournament,” said Boudreau. “Our goals are high this year but I think they're attainable.”