Kent State men’s basketball head coach Senderoff got start with UAlbany’s Sauers

Coach on sidelines

Kent State men’s basketball head coach Rob Senderoff watches pracitce for the NCAA tournament on Thursday at MVP Arena.

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ALBANY — Kent State men’s basketball head coach Rob Senderoff has been in coaching for over 20 years, and has been the head coach of the Golden Flashes for over a decade.

It just so happens that his coaching career began in the same city that he will coach his second career NCAA tournament game in.

Senderoff, a native of Spring Valley in Rockland County, attended UAlbany and got his first coaching job under legendary Great Danes head coach Doc Sauers while he was still a student at the school in the early 1990s.

“I think like a lot of people, whatever profession you get into, at some point, there’s a spark that gives you an opportunity,” Senderoff said Thursday at MVP Arena. “And for me, my first opportunity was as a student at SUNY Albany. … Doc Sauers allowed me the opportunity. I wasn’t a good enough player to play on the team, but he allowed me the opportunity to be around the team and help, similar to what a student manager does at a lot of different schools. That gave me the opportunity to start coaching.”

That role at UAlbany landed him a graduate assistant position at Miami (Ohio) in 1995, followed by stops as an assistant coach at Fordham, Yale, Towson and outside of a brief stop as an assistant coach at Indiana, his team’s opponent on Friday, from 2006-08, he has been at Kent State since 2002. He has been the program’s head coach since 2011, and has guided them to a second NCAA tournament since he took over.

All four members of Senderoff’s staff have Kent State ties in some capacity, three of them having played there, along with basketball administrator Jim Christian, a former Boston College head coach who got his first head coaching job at Kent State. That is something that has allowed the program to have success as well as a love for the program, similar to the love that Sauers had for the UAlbany program.

“That’s what makes Kent State unique,” Senderoff said. “That’s what makes Kent State special. And to me, it’s part of what makes Kent State different from a lot of other programs across the country is that the family atmosphere that a lot of people talk about, we can show you that we have it.”

That’s something that he took away from learning from Sauers and transferred it to running his own program today.

“You just remember how focused he was as a coach,” Senderoff said. “Times have changed, but good coaches are good coaches and he won over 700 games at the Division III level. He’s one of the best to have ever done it. It’s cool for me to be able to talk about Coach Sauers. People may not know who he is because Albany was a Division III school at the time.

“In this region, people know who he is, but that’s really cool. For those reasons, this has been fantastic.”

Senderoff would have been happy taking his Golden Flashes anywhere to play in this tournament, but to be able to do it in the city where he got his start just makes it that much sweeter.

“It’s great to be back to Albany,” Senderoff said. “But I’ve said it a couple times, who we play or where we play, it didn’t matter who we were playing against. I was just going to be ecstatic and excited to see our name pop up on the board. … I guess it’s a little cherry on top the fact that we’re here in Albany.”

Categories: College Sports, Sports, Sports, UAlbany

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