Keane reviewed UD Arena during the maintenance process and was impressed with the renovated facility, which got a three-year, $76.2 million upgrade from 2017 to 2019. She joins assistant coaches Bryce Agler and George Washington on the Williams-Jeter team.
“It’s such an incredible opportunity,” Keane said, “and I’m really looking forward to continuing the greatness that’s already been built there. I think there are some great things to come as well.
Keane, a 6-foot-1 forward, won the Big Ten Player of the Year award and became the program’s sixth All-American as a senior in 2011 averaging 16.1 points per game. She has scored 1,553 points in her career and ranks ninth in school history. She then played professional basketball in Croatia, Israel, Turkey, Australia and Slovakia. She had no intention of becoming a coach, but decided to end her playing career after an ankle injury and received a standing offer from her college coach, Suzy Merchant, to return to the state of Michigan if she ever decided to coach.
Two weeks after that ankle injury in 2017, Keane returned to Michigan State to enroll in graduate school and join the staff at Merchant.
“It was just an insane whirlwind, but it was really life changing,” Keane said, “and I just fell in love with the preparation side of (training). You’re still involved, but in a totally different.
Keane spent two seasons at Michigan State, then three seasons as an assistant coach at Long Island University, working under head coach Rene Haynes, another Michigan State graduate. The opportunity to work in Dayton was unexpected.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job,” Keane said. “I think my boss was pushing me to move on because she felt like I was ready, and that’s the best feeling ever. She’s a friend of mine. She was my host during from my visit to Michigan State. It was kind of like my big sister was pushing me out a bit. But I’m super excited to work for Tamika and the staff she put in place.
Williams-Jeter described Keane as an “emerging young star” in college basketball coaching.
“She had a phenomenal career at Michigan State with on-court versatility that comes through in her coaching style,” Williams-Jeter said in a press release. “She brings an ability to train forwards, hybrids and post players because she played that way. She could shoot the 3, and she could punch inside. It will be really advantageous for us to bring in players who are out of position and to have someone in the staff who has done that and is coaching him at a high level. He’s a star and players will love him. She has an extremely high basketball IQ. We are so happy to have him here and to be part of our family in Dayton.
Keane’s hiring was announced on April 28 and she was on the road to recruiting right away. Dayton lost five players to the transfer portal, the latest junior guard Capria Brown, who entered the portal on Monday, according to the website that tracks women’s basketball transfers. The program has added three new players since Williams-Jeter was hired — Maryland is moving Taisiya Kozlova, Nayo Lear, one of two 2022 rookies coming to Dayton, and Ohio State is moving Anyssa Jones — and has opened six scholarships.
Keane said Dayton staff approached the portal the same way as most programs.
“If someone on the portal is available and it makes sense, it’s still something you’re watching,” she said, “but we’re also out there watching kids from the secondary. You have to find that fine balance. Right now, it’s just such a crazy time. There’s so much movement going on. You really have to be diligent in what you’re doing and make sure that you find the right person.
Keane hails from Ajax, Ont., near Toronto, and played for the Canadian senior national team at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2011 and 2013. She plans to recruit from her home country for Dayton.
“There’s a lot of great Canadian talent out there,” Keane said. “I would love to have the opportunity to show them Dayton. Getting them to campus is the most important thing and making sure they have the opportunity to see all that is on offer to them. It’s such a place great. But I think more importantly than that, it’s the people there that make it so special. I would love to have Canadian talent on the roster.