Dernbach returns to Stevens Point

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Photo by Caleb Williams,

UW-Stevens Point athletics has named Kent Dernbach as head men’s basketball coach.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the future direction of the men’s basketball program,” said UWSP athletic director Brad Duckworth. “Coach Dernbach has been a proven winner and his ties and history at UW-Stevens Point are unparalleled. We are all very excited to welcome Kent and his family back into the Pointer family.”

Dernbach returns to UWSP where he was associate head coach from 2011 to 2017. He won eight games as interim head coach in the 2016-17 season before taking the reins at UW-La Crosse for the last six seasons.

He replaces Bob Semling, who was cut loose on March 1. Under Semling, UW-Stevens Point won two national championships, six WIAC regular season titles and six WIAC tournament championships. Semling finished with a record of 332-139, a winning percentage of .705.

Dernbach’s eight games as interim head coach were in place of Semling, who was suspended for the remainder of the 2016-17 season after the athletic department was informed that UWSP’s illegal practices were considered a major violation.

At UWL, Dernbach put the Eagles back on the national map. His team was ranked in the Top 25 in each of the last five seasons. He posted a 99-46 record, which included the best five-year span in the program’s history in more than 70 years. In 2019-20 and again in 2021-22, he won 21 games, tied for the single season school record. He is the all-time win percentage leader at UW-La Crosse.

In 2020-21, Dernbach was named WIAC Coach of the Year, just the fourth time a UWL coach was bestowed the honor. That year, his Eagles ranked 13th in the final poll, the highest final ranking in program history.

He coached 16 All-WIAC selections while at UWL and five members of the WIAC All-Defensive team. Under Dernbach’s tutelage, UWL’s JJ Paider was named 2022-23 Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Co-Newcomer of the Year.

During his time at UWSP, Dernbach won the national championship in 2015, the fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Pointers won the WIAC regular season during his tenure in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

“Mandi and I look forward to bringing our family back to the program, university and community that has meant so much in our lives,” said Dernbach.

Prior to his first stint at UWSP, Dernbach was the director of basketball operations at Northern Illinois University for three years and spent the previous two seasons at George Mason. During Dernbach’s time at George Mason, the Colonials posted back-to-back 20-win seasons, captured the Colonial Athletic Association championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. GMU’s 2009 recruiting class was tabbed the No. 1 ranked non-BCS class in the nation, and its existing players helped build an APR score that was rated among the top 10 percent in the NCAA Division I ranks.

Prior to his tenure at George Mason, Dernbach served a two-year stint as an assistant coach at Marymount, where he was the primary recruiter and helped mentor two all-conference players and two league rookies of the year.

Dernbach was a two-year letterwinner (2001-03) at Carthage. The Red Men compiled a 46-8 record with two CCIW championships and a berth in the 2002 NCAA Division III Final Four during Dernbach’s career.

Following his playing career, he became an assistant coach at North Central High School in Paddock Lake, Wis. He occupied the same role at Whetstone High School in Columbus, Ohio, during the 2004-05 season.

The Almond, Wisconsin, native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports management and psychology from Carthage in 2004 and completed his master’s degree in physical activity and educational services from Ohio State in 2006.

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