|Organization:||University of Rhode Island|
A fascinating, multidimensional man who made an indelible mark as a college athlete, coach and chemistry professor, Frank William Keaney is best remembered as the creator of the fast break in basketball, which he devised in the 1930s while at the University of Rhode Island. Keaney came to Kingston, R.I., in 1920 as a chemistry professor and one-man athletic staff who coached football, basketball, baseball, track and cross country.
By the late 1930s, Keaney had become one of the nation's best known and most innovative basketball coaches. His teams, made up primarily of Rhode Islanders, were high scoring and also wildly popular with their "firehouse" style of wide open play centered around the fast break. Keaney's Rhode Island State team peaked in 1946 after falling to Kentucky by one point in the National Invitational Tournament finals, then recognized as the national championship, at Madison Square Garden.
Between 1920 and 1948 Keaney's Rams won 401 games while losing 124. Taking into account his wins in football and baseball, Keaney's overall record jumps to 707 wins, 322 losses and 14 ties.
Keaney later served as athletics director at URI and had the school's new gymnasium named in his honor - Keaney Gym - in 1953. Keaney was inducted into the second-ever class of the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1960. He was also a member of the inaugural class of the University of Rhode Island Athletics Hall of Fame in 1959 and is a member of the Helms and New England Basketball Halls of Fame.