Norm Roberts Rejoins Kansas Men's Basketball Staff
April 9, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Norm Roberts has rejoined the Kansas men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach, KU head coach Bill Self announced Monday.
Roberts, who replaces Danny Manning who was named head coach at Tulsa in late March, comes to Kansas after serving the 2011-12 season as an assistant coach at the University of Florida, where the Gators were 26-11 and advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Roberts is no stranger to Kansas and Self. He spent nine seasons on Self’s staffs at KU in 2003-04 as associate head coach, three years at Illinois (2000-03), including serving as associate head coach in 2002-03; three seasons at Tulsa (1997-2000); and two years at Oral Roberts (1995-97). Additionally, his son, Niko, is a sophomore guard on the KU team.
“I’m excited to see Norm come back,” Self said. “He’s always been a Kansas guy having worked Kansas basketball camps in the 1980’s for Coach (Larry) Brown. He and his family loved it here. As good as he was when he left, now he’s got six years of head coaching experience under his belt in addition to all the recruiting experience. I think he’s going to be a huge asset to our program. It also gives him an opportunity to have his entire family together as Niko will continue to be a walk-on on our basketball team.”
“I’m extremely excited having the chance to go back to such a great program as Kansas,” Roberts said. “I thought when I was there, I wasn’t there long enough to really enjoy the Jayhawk nation and everything. Having a chance to go back will be great and the opportunity to work with Joe (Dooley) and Kurtis (Townsend) and the rest of the staff will be great as well.”
“It’s going to be even more special because my son is there,” Roberts said. “He’s made his own way. He’s part of the program. Something important to me is that Niko was okay with me coming back. Obviously my wife (Pascale) is close with Cindy (Self) and our families are very close. This is a great opportunity for me and my family.”
“This wasn’t an easy decision,” Roberts added. “(Florida head coach) Billy Donovan has been really, really good to me. I would consider him one of the top five coaches in America and I learned a tremendous amount being here with Billy and his staff. Leaving here I feel I’m a better coach and a better person to have worked at Florida.”
“Norm Roberts did a great job on our staff the past year here at Florida,” Donovan said. “I have a lot of respect for the Kansas program and Bill Self, and I know this is a great opportunity for Norm and his family to all be together.”
Prior to Florida, Roberts spent six seasons as the head coach at St. John’s in New York, where in 2004 the Queens, N.Y., native took over the Red Storm.
In his first season, the Red Storm showed that despite coming off several losing seasons they could compete at a high level with a pair of top-25 victories over No. 17 North Carolina State and No. 21 Pittsburgh while claiming the championship at the 2004 Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s also defeated long-time rival Georgetown that year.
In Roberts’ second season in 2005-06, St. John’s improved its overall and conference record and claimed the Holiday Festival championship for a second consecutive year. The team also scored its first top-10 win under Roberts, defeating No. 9 Pittsburgh, 55-50, on Jan. 21 just four days after another top-25 win against No. 17/15 Louisville, 68-56.
In 2008-09, St. John’s scored its biggest victory of Roberts’ tenure, knocking off No. 7 Notre Dame, and added a pair of wins over Georgetown, including a first-round matchup in the Big East Tournament. In his final season with the program, Roberts led St. John’s past UConn in the Big East Tournament and earned a postseason berth in the NIT.
A 1987 graduate of Queens College with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, Roberts is the school’s third all-time leading scorer with 1,719 points. He also is the career leader in steals (253) and is second in assists (460), and had his number (15) retired by his alma mater in 1993.
Roberts’ first job out of college was under legendary high school coach Jack Curran at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, where he spent three years as the head freshman coach and an assistant on the varsity squad. While at Archbishop Molloy, he had the opportunity to coach many noted New York players, including all-time New Jersey Nets assist leader Kenny Anderson.
He and his wife Pascale have two sons, Nicholas (Niko) and Justin.