Entering his 24th year directing the Keene State women's basketball program, Keith Boucher is looking forward to the challenge of rebuilding the Owls into a team that will contend for the Little East Conference championship and return to post-season play.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and either will be the Owls. Losing four starters from last season's 19-10 team that advanced to the semifinal round of the LEC tournament and reached the finals of the ECAC New England Chmpionship, Boucher understands he must practice patience as he set about the task of rebuilding Keene State into contenders for the conference crown.
"Obviously,there a big learning curve with a young team," said Boucher. "But in some respects it’s invigorating because the team has a lot of youthful exuberance as they make the adjustment to the college game."
Closing in on his 350th career win (340-280, .548 pct.), Boucher has led the Owls to post-season berths five out of the past seven seasons, including an ECAC championship in 2010 and an NCAA Tournament at-large berth in 2006-07.
Under Boucher’s direction, the Owls had their most their most successful season in Division III and the Little East Conference in 2007 with a program best second place LEC finish and first ever NCAA Division III NCAA tournament berth, advancing to the second-round.
Adjustments are nothing new for Boucher, who has seen the team's success fluctuate with each season. He inherited a NECC championship squad in 1989-90 that posted a 23-7 record and became KSC's first-ever women's basketball NCAA Tournament team. The Owls returned to post-season play a few years later, when they reached the ECAC Championship game in 1992-93.
Since moving to Division III and the LEC in 1997, the Owls have made six trips to the ECAC tournament, capturing the crown in 2010. They earned their first-ever LEC championship berth in 2004-05, and culminated their 10-year Division III tenure with its 2007 NCAA tournament berth.
A graduate of Plymouth State, where he played football and baseball, Boucher went on to receive his master's degree in physical education from Norwich University. The Lebanon, N.H., native began his coaching career as the boys' basketball coach at Timberlane High School and softball coach at Hanover High School, before returning to Norwich as assistant men's basketball coach. After serving in a trial basis for a year, he was officially named the Owls eighth coach in the fall of 1990.
Boucher wants his athletes to succeed at Keene State. "I tell all my kids when they come into my program that I want them to be good at three things; first and most importantly, to be a good person, second to be a good student, and third to be a good basketball player."
Always putting a competitive team on the floor, Boucher has gained a solid reputation for his meticulous preparation, and for getting his players to perform at their highest level. He will use the same positive approach as he incorporates a young group a players into a successful team this season.
|Title:||Associate Head Coach|
Margaitis begins his sixth season as a member of the Keene State women's basketball coaching staff, fourth as the Associate Head Coach of the Owls.
Originally from Litchfield, Connecticut, Margaitis came to KSC
after serving as the head girls' basketball coach at Fall Mountain
Regional High School (FMRHS) in 2007. "I saw his team playing
during our Christmas tournament and was impressed with the job Ryan
did," said Boucher. "I thought he was a good communicator and got
the most out of the team's talent."
Margaitis proved to be a valuable addition to the staff last season, getting involved in every facet of the program and making a smooth adjustment into the college coaching ranks.
A 1,000-point career scorer at Wamago High in Litchfield, Margaitis played a season at Springfield College. He began his coaching career in Connecticut, before spending a year with Coach Phil Hebert at Keene High then moving on to FMRHS.
|Hometown:||South Sutton, N.H.|
|College:||New England College|
Rob Bennett begins his first season as an assistant coach with the Keene State College women’s basketball team.
Bennett brings extensive experience coaching at the high school and AAU level to his new position with the Owls.
Bennett, who has coached at Kearsarge (N.H.) Regional High School the past 16 years, the last four years as the girls’ varsity basketball coach, is excited about moving onto the college ranks. “Coaching at the college level is something that I always dreamed about doing,” said Bennett, who also serves as the assistant principal at Kearsarge. “To come to a school like Keene State and learn from a coach like Keith Boucher is a great opportunity. I can’t believe what I’ve already learned from him in the first few days of practice”
Bennett came highly recommended by Marty Brown, the former athletic director at Kearsage and a longtime friend of KSC Head Coach Keith Boucher. “Marty thought he’d be great for our program,” said Boucher. “Rob knows the game and I’m looking forward to him being on the staff.”
Growing up in Andover, N.H., Bennett was a three-sport athlete at Merrimack Valley and Franklin High School. Bennett, who earned his bachelors and master’s degrees from New England College, started his coaching career at Franklin High where he served as the head boys’ coach and as an assistant with the girls’ program.
He moved on Kearsarge, first working at the middle school and later moving up to the high school. Working alongside Coach Brown, the 1999 Cougars were state Division II runners-up.
Bennett has coached multiple sports at Kearsarge High, taking over as the girls’ varsity coach in 2008. Under Bennett, the Cougars qualified for four consecutive Division II tournaments, including last season when his overachieving team reached the finals.
He has also been highly successful coaching the school’s baseball team, which qualified for the State Division II playoffs six years in a row.
Bennett has also coached AAU basketball for 15 years.
Bennett lives in South Sutton, N.H. with his wife Koreen and daughters Courtney and Olivia.
Beginning his first season on the Keene State women’s basketball staff, Marc Taney is fulfilling a long-held aspiration by becoming a college coach. “I’m recreating myself at age 40,” said Taney, a former high school coach who recently returned to school at Little East rival Western Conn. State. “My life-long passion is basketball. When I asked myself what I really want to do for the next 25 years, it was to become a college basketball coach. So I threw my oars back in the water to see if I could get back into coaching.”
It didn’t take long for Taney to accept Head Coach Keith Boucher’s offer to join the Owl coaching staff. “I’ve known Keith for about 25 years,” said Taney. “When he asked me to join him at Keene State, it took me about two minutes to consider it – my decision was pretty much made.”
Taney’s connection to Boucher and his family dates back to his days playing basketball at Lebanon (N.H.) High for Boucher’s father in law, Lang Metcalf. “Lang was like a father to me,” said Taney. “He and his son Billy took me under their wings and got me to see basketball not just from player’s point of view, but also from a coach’s perspective. When you’re 17 years old and hanging out on the court with Chip, Lang, and Keith, you’re getting quite a basketball education.”
Although his Lebanon team never won a state title, they did come close. His junior team went undefeated before losing in the finals, and his senior squad made it to the state semifinals.
Taney began his coaching career at Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. After spending several seasons moving up the coaching ladder at the school, as well as running a AAU program, Taney took a coaching sabbatical.
Rededicating himself to the coaching profession, Taney will devote most of his efforts on recruiting for the Owls. “We’re excited that we got somebody who can really focus on the Connecticut kids,” said Boucher. “I know he’s looking forward to helping the program.”
Making the transition from player to coach, Nikki Cote will serve as an Owls assistant while completing her degree in nutrition this year. A former MVP and conference All-Star at E.O. Smith (Conn.) High School, Cote played two seasons at rival Eastern Conn. before joining the Owls.
Taking over as the team’s top point guard last year, the Ashford, Conn., native had a stellar senior season, averaging 4.6 points and 2.1 assists. “Looking back, I wish we had her for four years,” said Boucher. “She’s one of those kids who loves the game. Nikki played with a lot of intensity. She’s got an infectious enthusiasm that rubs off on everybody.”
As far as Cote is concerned, the scenario couldn’t work out any better. “It’s the best thing that could happen: I can still be involved with the team and learn a lot because I want to coach in the future.”
Despite being a coach, Cote said she won’t curb her enthusiasm for the team. “I think it’s something we need, because we don’t have anyone that’s going to bring that out,” she said. “So I’m hoping I can show a lot of excitement and passion and get everyone going.”