The Keene State College Men’s Basketball team will have a new leader for the 2015-2016 season and he looks to bring his winning ways to the court.

Ryan Cain will take over as Interim Head Coach of the program and will bring a “winning tradition to Keene,” Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Interim Director of Athletics Kemal Atkins, said.

Atkins said while having a conversation with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Head Coach Chris Bartley, he learned of Cain’s basketball success.

“The team they had only one 20 plus win season. Since he has been there as a player and coach it has been twelve consecutive 20 plus win seasons,” Atkins said.

During his four years as a player and eight as an assistant coach at WPI Cain accomplished a number of achievements. According to the WPI Sports Information webpage he is the school’s leading scorer with 1,813 career points. In addition, Cain made three NCAA tournament appearances as a player and won four New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season titles. Also, Cain won two NEWMAC tournaments as a player and won the league’s player of the year twice.

During his tenure as an assistant coach he helped lead WPI to six NCAA tournament appearances

File Photo / Tim Smith

File Photo / Tim Smith

including three consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2015. Cain said he believes his success at WPI will help him here at Keene State. “I think it will help me immensely. I was able to play for a guy that I think is one of the best coaches [Chris Bartley] in the country and then coach aside him the last eight years,” Cain said.

Sports Information Director and Chair of the Search Committee Abe Osheyack said Cain coming from a winning tradition helped Cain during the interview process.

“We have a winning tradition at Keene State particularly this year. We are bringing back a huge core of a championship team. To have somebody in a position who was familiar with a winning culture and excellence was important. I think winning is something that you learn how to do,” Osheyack said.

Cain said he believes it is critical connecting with others.

“It is probably one of the most important things. Obviously number one would be connecting the players and then shortly after that would be connecting with everybody on campus. I think it is important for the players and the community to hopefully transition and support our program moving forward,” Cain said.

Atkins said he has high hopes for the team this season. “I think the expectations are extremely high, we are returning a strong team,” Atkins said. The Owls in their last season won the Little East Tournament and were defeated by Johns Hopkins in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Cain said his goal for the season is for the team to reach its potential. “I don’t believe in setting win loss goals. I think the expectation would be to try to reach our potential,” Cain said.

In addition, Cain is not feeling any extra pressure of last year’s NCAA tournament appearance. “I think you start with a new slate every single year. You lose guys and bring guys on. The success or failure of a previous year doesn’t really impact that following year and it’s tough to project based on last year’s results. I think we are excited that we have a lot of guys returning for sure. We are bringing in some good players, as well I don’t think the NCAA tournament puts any more or less pressure on the team for that following season,” Cain said.

Cain has enjoyed his time on campus so far. “It’s been wonderful. The people have been phenomenal. The more I’m around the school, the more I learn about the school, the more impressed with the school I am,” Cain said.

The season will begin on October 15, with tryouts and then games beginning in November.

Cain calls the time between now and then a process.

“It’s a process I don’t want to look past these six weeks. I think these six weeks are very important for me to connect with the players and the community,” Cain said. Cain also needs to work on filling his coaching staff, as Doug Jenkins will return as an assistant coach in a voluntary role. “I’d love to say as soon as possible but we are not going to rush to make that decision. We want go get good people in here but hopefully in the near future we can put together a full staff,” Cain said.

Atkins said, Cain’s best quality is his personality. “We had a connection almost immediately. What I’ve seen since he’s been here he’s connected very well with people. That was probably the most important value as I believe coming in as a coach in this role he would need to be able to connect with the student athletes in particular quickly,” Atkins said.

According to Atkins, with Cain being the interim head coach he is allowed to apply for the permanent position.

“Being the interim head coach does not disqualify him from being considered for the permanent position. We won’t look towards a search until the spring,” Atkins said.

Cain is taking over the program that former Head Coach Rob Colbert led for 16 years. His contract was terminated on June 19, 2015. A message was left by The Equinox with Kelly Ricaurte, Keene State College Media Relations Manager, but referred The Equinox to Osheyack.

Osheyack said, “The termination of Rob Colbert is a private, personnel matter.”

Brian can be reached at

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