As many begin the process of getting acclimated with their classes, six-year University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point men’s assistant basketball coach Kent Dernbach has gotten a jump on getting comfortable in his own new role as interim head coach of the men’s basketball team.
“My experience here as being the assistant coach with coach Semling for six years gave me the best preparation to step in and lead this program temporarily until our staff is back intact,” Dernbach said. “My best preparation for this job was the opportunity that I’ve had for the previous five-plus seasons prior to this year.”
Since filling in for suspended head coach Bob Semling, Dernbach has led the Pointers to a 3-4 record.
Victories include an 18 point win over then 12th ranked UW-Eau Claire. The three losses, including a one-point defeat at River Falls on a last-second shot, have been for a combined twelve points.
The experience of the team has certainly helped make the transition to Dernbach in the wake of the suspension of UWSP’s all-time winning basketball coach a more seamless one.
“We’re fortunate to have four seniors that have been with us now for four years, and an addition of another senior that comes with experience. And they understand what our culture and our program is all about,” Dernbach said. “So what we’re trying to do, each and every day, is become a good practice team and try to be a team that overachieves.”
Dernbach brings experience in a multitude of aspects.
During his playing career at Carthage College, Dernbach helped contribute to two CCIW titles and a 2002 Final Four berth en route to a 46-8 record between 2001-03.
From a mentoring aspect, Dernbach also shined during his time as an assistant coach at Marymount University, particularly with taking two future all-conference players under his wing.
These accolades serve as building blocks in the development of younger players, such as leading scorer Ethan Bublitz and fellow sophomore Drew Frederickson, as well as transfers like Bryce Williams and MJ Delmore, who has averaged nearly 17 points per game on 54 percent shooting since Dernbach’s insertion as interim head coach, ahead of the Jan. 28 game against UW-River Falls.
“We talk heavily of what the tradition and expectation of Pointer basketball is, and there’s a standard of play that we need to be at,” Dernbach said. “Fortunately for us, that’s been able to be passed down from our upperclassmen to underclassmen each year.”
Unfortunately, a national title is not in the cards for the Pointers this season. However, the remaining games will undoubtedly pay dividends in future seasons.
UWSP can still win the regular season Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in a year that has a logjam at second and third place in the conference.
Dernbach praised the team for how the players have been able to handle the rigors of a season that has provided circumstances unique to any other season in Pointers basketball history. Still, there is an emphasis on closing out this season strong, as Dernbach indicated.
“We believe, they believe, I believe, Collectively, we’re a team that can certainly compete,” Dernbach said. “We’ve competed with everybody, but we’re determined to get the results, and that would be a team that is finishing at the top or towards the top of this league. Those goals have not changed.”
Kent Dernbach is proving that he can and will continue to strive to achieve, and then some, as the next man up.