Coming off one of the greatest seasons in program history, Keith Richard begins his sixth year at the helm of his alma mater. Richard’s historic turnaround in 2014-15 came in his very first season without any APR sanctions in-which he inherited when he took over.
The reigning Sun Belt Conference and Louisiana Coach of the Year has completely rebuilt the program both on and off the court. He coached the Warhawks to 24 wins last season, the third-most in school history, and also posted the third-largest turnaround in the nation from the year before.
Richard guided the team to the championship series of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last year which included a game in the month of April, the first-ever for ULM or any team from the Sun Belt Conference. He coached a pair of All-Conference student-athletes including Tylor Ongwae who became the first ever First-Team All-SBC selection from ULM.
Additionally, Richard doubled ULM’s overall and conference win totals for the second year in a row. The Warhawks finished the regular season in a tie for second-place in the SBC standings after being picked sixth preseason in 2014-15 and dead-last in 2013-14.
Defensively, Richard’s squad was one of three teams in the country to not allow 75 points in a single game all year. ULM held the opposition to under 60 points 17 times including half of its league games after ranking top-10 in the country in three-point field goal percentage defense (.297) and top-15 in field goal percentage defense (.388).
Over the course of Richard’s first four years, ULM was sanctioned with penalties of scholarship reductions, practice limitations, postseason ban and loss of non-conference games due to previous poor academic scores prior to his arrival. Last year, the NCAA lifted all sanctions against the program after its outstanding academic improvement.
The Warhawks won the SBC team academic award for the third consecutive year in 2014-15. They once again posted the conference’s best cumulative grade-point average to earn the award.
ULM also earned back-to-back Team Academic Excellence Awards from the National Association of Basketball Coaches. In 2012-13, ULM was one of only 21 NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs to be honored for achieving a team cumulative GPA above 3.0. In 2013-14, the Warhawks were the only team in the Sun Belt Conference to earn the award and the only Division I institution in the state of Louisiana after tallying a perfect 1,000 APR score.
Richard is still in the process of restoring the program’s rich tradition of success which he was a part of previously as a coach and a player, and has taken tremendous strides both on and off the court.
Richard returned to his alma mater to become ULM’s seventh men’s basketball head coach on April 22, 2010. He became the second ULM men’s basketball coach - joining Mike Vining - to have also been a student-athlete and an assistant coach for the program. He was with the Warhawks in both capacities for six of the program’s seven NCAA Tournament appearances in the 1980s and early 1990s.
A proven winner, Richard has been a part of all five of ULM’s winningest seasons in program history as either a coach or player. He was an assistant coach in 1992-93 when the program won 27 games, and also in 1990-91 when ULM won 25 games. Both years resulted in NCAA Tournament berths.
As a student-athlete at ULM, Richard bridged the transition from Lenny Fant to Benny Hollis to Vining. He played on Fant’s final team, played two seasons for Hollis and then completed his playing career on Vining’s first team. ULM won three Trans-America Athletic Conference championships during his four years and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1982, the school’s first-ever appearance, and the NIT in 1979. He twice led the team in assists and was team captain in 1980-81 and 1981-82.
Following his playing career, Richard spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at ULM (1984-86) as his alma mater won the Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles in 1985, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament.a
Richard moved on to Marshall University for three years from 1986-89, helping the Thundering Herd win two Southern Conference crowns and a Southern Conference tournament title. Marshall participated in the 1987 NCAA Tournament and the 1988 NIT while Richard was on staff.
He returned to ULM for the 1989-90 season, spending five seasons as an assistant coach. In those five years, ULM won four Southland Conference regular season championships, four Southland Conference tournaments and made four appearances in the NCAA Tournament (1990, 1991, 1993, 1994). He departed in 1994 to join the staff at Louisiana Tech.
In his first season at Louisiana Tech, Richard helped the Bulldogs to the second biggest turnaround in the nation as they won 14 games after winning just two in the season prior to his arrival.
The following year Richard was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach, spending three seasons in that capacity. He helped the Bulldogs reach the championship game of the Sun Belt Tournament in 1997, the school’s first appearance in five seasons.
Richard became the head coach at Louisiana Tech prior to the 1998-99 season, guiding the Bulldogs for nine seasons. In his time at the helm of Louisiana Tech, Richard compiled a record of 150-117, the third-most wins in school history. In nine seasons, Richard had 11 players named all-conference, including three-time NCAA rebounding champion Paul Millsap, who went on to be drafted by the Utah Jazz. This season, Millsap will begin his ninth season in the NBA and the second with Atlanta Hawks.
During Richard’s tenure at Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs went on the road and won money games against the likes of Auburn, Baylor, Memphis (coached by John Calipari) and Texas Tech (coached by Bob Knight).
In his first season as head coach, Louisiana Tech won the Sun Belt regular season championship. Richard was named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year and two players, Lonnie Cooper and Craig Jackson, earned all-conference accolades.
The next year, Richard guided Louisiana Tech to a 21-win season, the school’s first of three 20-plus win seasons under Richard. Gerrod Henderson and Jackson earned All-Sun Belt honors that year, with Henderson named the Sun Belt’s Most Valuable Player.
In 2001-02, Louisiana Tech moved from the Sun Belt into the Western Athletic Conference, where Richard immediately turned the Bulldogs into a contender for the conference crown, posting a 22-10 overall record and 14-4 in conference play. Led by Henderon, who earned All-WAC honors, Richard’s Bulldogs earned a berth in the NIT, where they defeated Louisiana-Lafayette and Vanderbilt before falling to Villanova.
Richard took the Bulldogs to the postseason again during the 2005-06 season as Louisiana Tech won 20 games and earned a trip to the NIT. That year, Millsap was named as an All-WAC performer for the third consective season while also leading the nation in rebounding for the third-straight season.
In nine years as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, Richard’s teams posted a conference record of 90-60, going 32-14 in three seasons in Sun Belt and 58-46 in six years in the WAC. At ULM, Richard returns to the Sun Belt where he entered as the league’s 10th winningest coach in conference games, with a .696 winning percentage.
Prior to returning to guide his alma mater, Richard spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at LSU, where he helped the Tigers win the 2008-09 SEC regular season championship and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to eventual national champion North Carolina.
Richard and his wife Holly have three children: sons Luke and Lance, and daughter Lexie. He earned a bachelor’s degree from ULM in 1982 and a master’s degree from ULM in 1986.
Richard’s Coaching Career:
2010-pr. – ULM (Head Coach)
2008-10 – LSU (Assistant Coach)
1998-07 – Louisiana Tech (Head Coach)
1995-98 – Louisiana Tech (Assistant Coach)
1989-94 – ULM (Assistant Coach)
1986-89 – Marshall (Assistant Coach)
1984-86 – ULM (Graduate Assistant Coach)