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.