Senderoff named permanent men’s basketball head coach


Photo courtesy of Matthew Vern Bliss.

Rachel Jones

Rob Senderoff’s contract

Former coach Geno Ford’s Kent State contract

After former head coach Geno Ford blindsided the men’s basketball team when he agreed to coach at Bradley University, the seniors assembled their teammates together to ensure a better upcoming season.

The players marched into Joel Nielsen’s office April 4 and made a case with the director of athletics at Kent State that interim head coach Rob Senderoff should hold the position permanently.

“We just wanted to voice our opinion,” said junior guard Carlton Guyton. “He’s been around us and knows us personally, so we want to keep those relationships.”

Whether that display swayed Nielsen’s decision or not, he officially declared Senderoff as the head coach Thursday at 3:30 p.m. during a press conference in the M.A.C. Center.

“(Senderoff’s) seven years with the program have been some of our best years,” Nielsen said. “He separated himself (from the other candidates) with his knowledge, his recruiting records, his commitment and his plans for the future.”

Senderoff said those plans include continuing the team’s current levels of toughness, selflessness and emotion on the court.

But what really made him stand out from the six to 12 other candidates for the position was the list of players he has recruited over the years.

“There’s a lot of points, a lot of rebounds and a lot of assists on that list,” Nielsen explained. “That list (also) includes a Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, (junior forward Justin) Greene.”

Although Senderoff wasn’t much of a basketball player himself, he proved he knows how to step outside of eastern Ohio to find the top picks for the team.

But if he were good at basketball, perhaps he wouldn’t be the head coach right now.

“This became a dream of mine when I was 19 or 20 and was cut from the JV team at a Division III school, and I knew I wasn’t good at basketball,” Senderoff said. “These guys can attest to that.”

Motioning to the laughing players, Senderoff quickly added, “I can still shoot free throws better than some of them,” erupting more laughter and clearly displaying the close relationship he has with the players.

“We’re tight because he’s been the assistant coach, so we can talk to him more personally,” Guyton explained.

Looking ahead to next season, Guyton said it would also benefit the team in terms of wins if Senderoff served as head coach.

“We don’t want to change anything because we’ve been winning,” Guyton said. “We’re basically coming back with the same team, so we’ll either start the season the same way or better.”

For Senderoff, the goal is to build on current pillars and get better.

He said after the team missed out on the NCAA Tournament by two points this season, he wants the team to remain “two points better” next year.

And since he appreciates all of the support the players have given him during the 10-day search for a new head coach, Senderoff plans to give back to the team by getting the most out of the players and giving the seniors a chance to reach their full potentials.

“Our kids come here for one reason and one reason only: to win championships and get rings on their fingers,” Senderoff said. “I want to make sure that happens.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected]