Dernbach named interim head coach at UW-La Crosse
By John Kemmeter
Almond native Kent Dernbach, who was the associate head coach for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) men’s basketball team, was named the interim head coach for the UW-La Crosse (UWL) men’s basketball Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Dernbach served as the interim head coach for the Pointers last season after UWSP suspended head coach Bob Semling for the final 13 games due to NCAA allegations regarding practicing out of season, and he guided the team to an 8-5 record.
Ken Koelbl was the head coach of the UWL men’s basketball team for the last 14 seasons, but resigned Sept. 14 to pursue a full-time position in the admissions office at UWL.
“I would like to thank coach (Bob) Semling, the current and former team members, their families and the outstanding community for allowing me to be a part of this first-class basketball program,” said Dernbach. “The memories that my wife and I have had will remain vivid for the remainder of our lives.”
A former Almond-Bancroft High School standout, Dernbach played college basketball at NCAA Division III Carthage College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sport management and psychology in 2004, and completed his master’s degree in physical activity and educational services from The Ohio State University in 2006.
He spent two seasons each working for the men’s basketball programs at George Mason University and Marymount University, before he was the director of basketball operations at Northern Illinois University for three seasons, and then joined the Pointers’ staff as the top assistant for Semling prior to the 2011-12 season.
During his six seasons on the coaching staff at UWSP, the Pointers reached the NCAA Division III Tournament four times, and won the 2015 NCAA Division III National Championship.
Before taking over as the head coach at UWL prior to the 2003-04 season, Koelbl was the top assistant at UWSP under former head coach Jack Bennett.
Koelbl went 201-161 in 14 seasons as the head coach at UWL and was named the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Coach (WIAC) of the Year in 2015-16 after the team won its first Conference Title since 1965, while the team finished 14-13 last season.
In Dernbach’s first game as UWSP interim head coach last season, the Pointers won 76-58 on the road over UWL Jan. 7.
In Dernbach’s final game as the interim coach for UWSP, the Pointers won 88-78 at home over UWL in the regular season finale Feb. 18.
“Being able to work under one of the best coaches in the country, regardless of level, the last six years has given me the ability to take on this opportunity at UWL,” said Dernbach of Semling. “Growing up and following the WIAC, I realize how special this league is and the quality of players and coaches that exists in this conference.
“I am extremely excited to take the next step in my coaching career at such a great institution as UW-La Crosse,” he said.