Busting Brackets

Lebron’s former coach, Keith Dambrot, holds off retirement with Duquesne’s first-round upset of BYU

Keith Dambrot is heading into retirement once his team's season ends, but the Dukes are in no rush to let their coach go.

Duquesne Dukes head coach Keith Dambrot
Duquesne Dukes head coach Keith Dambrot / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

There were plenty of bid-stealers throughout the conference tournament week and the Duquesne Dukes may have been one of the most surprising. The sixth seed in the Atlantic 10 conference went on a run to win the league’s tournament in Keith Dambrot’s final year before retirement. Well, Dambrot’s career will continue at least one game longer after his Dukes knocked off sixth-seeded BYU 71-67 to advance to the Round of 32. 

“They just don’t want me to retire I guess,” Dambrot said to CBS’s AJ Ross on the court postgame. “I’m trying to get to the promised land and they’re making me keep coaching.”

After being awarded the 11th seed in the East Region, Duquesne was off to Omaha Nebraska, and was met by a truckload of shoes courtesy of Lebron James, Dambrot’s former player at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron Ohio. Wearing those shoes, Duquesne senior guard Dae Dae Grant knocked down two free throws to ice the game with four seconds remaining. 

The win was Duquesne’s first since 1969 and first appearance since 1977. Heading into March nobody would have expected that this team would be the one to end that long drought, maybe not even Dambrot. 

“We’ve played really good basketball over the last six weeks, and we just found a little niche, and they’ve been selfless, they believe in each other, and they’re just a good brotherhood.”

That brotherhood just delivered the first upset of the NCAA Tournament. BYU was a team that the committee intentionally under-seeded as a six instead of a five, to avoid a Round of 32 game on Sunday. The Dukes made sure that didn’t matter by sending the Cougars back to Provo.

Next. Grambling State's Cinderella story continues after OT win in First Four. Grambling State's Cinderella story continues after OT win in First Four. dark