Saturday, October 23, 2010

Former assistant Roberts returns for KU clinic

Norm Roberts, former head coach at St. John's and assistant coach at KU visits with Danny Manning at Bill Self's Basketball Camp in June. Roberts shared some X’s and O’s insight with several hundred high school, junior-college and small-college coaches immediately following KU’s two-hour basketball practice.

Norm Roberts, former head coach at St. John's and assistant coach at KU visits with Danny Manning at Bill Self's Basketball Camp in June. Roberts shared some X’s and O’s insight with several hundred high school, junior-college and small-college coaches immediately following KU’s two-hour basketball practice.


Bill Self turned to one of his best buddies to serve as featured speaker at Friday’s Kansas University Basketball Coaches Clinic in Allen Fieldhouse.

Norm Roberts, head coach at St. John’s the past six seasons after working on Self’s staffs at KU, Illinois, Tulsa and Oral Roberts, shared some X’s and O’s insight with several hundred high school, junior-college and small-college coaches immediately following KU’s two-hour basketball practice.

“Norm is as good as there is,” Self said of the 45-year-old Roberts, who went 81-101 in his six seasons at the Big East school.

“There’s nobody better from a recruiting standpoint. (He’s a) basketball junkie, a very good coach who does it the right way, is highly ethical. I think he’ll get an opportunity (to return to coaching) soon.”

Roberts will work the 2010-11 season as studio analyst for Sports New York TV Network, which covers Big East basketball.

“I hope so,” Roberts said of returning to head coaching in 2011-12. “This will be a great opportunity to do something new.

“I thought our teams got better every year (at St. John’s), and the guys played with great intensity and toughness. The people there were really good to me, and obviously the people here and coach (Self) have been great to me.”

Roberts — who is father of KU freshman walk-on combo guard Niko Roberts — was in his element at Friday’s practice.

“Just sitting here today, talking with Mr. Morningstar (Roger, former KU player), I’m saying to myself, ‘What do you miss?’ This is what I miss, the teaching in practice,” Roberts said. “That stuff is what gets you going as a coach. It’s what you love the most. I miss it a ton.”

In coming weeks, he’ll attend practices at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Commonwealth, Georgia and Georgia Tech.

“It’s an opportunity to see people do different things, what they emphasize, how they run practices. It can only make you better,” Roberts said.

He likes what he saw Friday in KU’s team.

“Extremely athletic. I think they will have a great ability to score. I think they can be one of coach Self’s best defensive teams because of their lateral quickness and length,” Roberts said.

“When you have the (Morris) twins out there who can really move their feet on ball screens ... (Jeff) Withey will add a lot to the team’s shot-blocking ability. Thomas Robinson is physical. Then on the perimeter with (Josh) Selby, Tyshawn (Taylor) and Elijah (Johnson) ... they are so quick. They can play small with Mario Little. They have a lot of options, and having two great shooters in Brady (Morningstar) and (Tyrel) Reed. Tyshawn and Selby will be able to get those guys shots.”

Roberts said he’d follow the Jayhawks’ fortunes closely as they try to win their seventh straight Big 12 title.

“It is always a huge deal to win championships. Coach has done it repeatedly,” Roberts said. “One thing he does a great job of ... when one year is over, he immediately moves onto the next year. He loves what they’ve accomplished here. He knows the next step is to try to win another one and continue to get those (college) graduates. He doesn’t get caught up in the past.”

Of his former boss, Roberts said ... “Bill is awesome. He’s been a great mentor to me. He still mentors me now as he’s done with coach Jankovich (Tim, Illinois State) and numerous guys like Scott Sutton at Oral Roberts, Barry Hinson (KU director of basketball operations, former Missouri State coach), all the people he’s worked with. He gives you a great vehicle to work. He wants you to do things you know and bring things to the table every day. Not a lot of guys let you do that like he does. I thank him for that.”

As far as his own flesh and blood ... 5-11 guard Niko Roberts, Norm said: “He’s still growing. He’s got to get stronger, but this is a great opportunity. To wake up every day and be a Jayhawk is awesome,” Norm said.

Tharpe on campus: Naadir Tharpe, a 6-foot senior point guard from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., who committed to KU last week, is on his official recruiting visit to KU. He watched Friday’s practice with junior center Markieff Morris, who on Thursday had hernia surgery and will be out seven to 10 days.

Tharpe averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 assists a game last year for 35-5 national prep champion Brewster.’s No. 91 rated player chose KU over Oklahoma, Minnesota, UCLA, St. John’s, North Carolina State and others.

“Basically life has been really exciting for me since I made my decision to attend Kansas,” Tharpe told earlier this week. “I’m just blessed. I’m focused on winning the league and also winning another national championship. We’re coming together really well. We don’t start practice until Nov. 1, but we’ve been going hard, conditioning-wise. Everybody wants the same thing.”

Tharpe has been compared to former KU point Aaron Miles, who practiced with the Jayhawks on Friday — a couple of days after getting cut by the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Tharpe last year fed the ball to the likes of Brewster players Will Barton (20.8 ppg), C.J. Fair (14.0), Maurice Walker (12.5), Melvin Ejim (11.1) and Austin Carroll (10.1). Brewster has a 57-17 record with Tharpe as the starting point guard.

McLemore update: Ben McLemore, a 6-5 guard from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., did not visit Missouri on Saturday as previously reported. He was to take the ACT test Saturday and visit Missouri next weekend.


REHawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Ben, best of good luck with your ACT test. Light up the stat sheets this year on your way to a major Div I college program. The Jayhawk Nation really hopes to see you in a Kansas uniform!

hawk316 9 years, 4 months ago

Ben, I know you must do what's best for your future, but rest assured...we really want you here! From all appearances, KU seems like a great fit for you. Best wishes to you as you make this important life decision.

jaybate 9 years, 4 months ago

"Hurry, Hurry, Step Right Up: Get Your Day Old Equal Signs Here"

“Marcus may be as good a guard as we’ve got,” Self said of the 6-9, 235-pounder, who will play in both the frontcourt and backcourt this season. “We can go big if we want and play Marcus on the perimeter.” = Tyshawn, Selby and Little can't pot the triceratop and Marcus can.

"Offensively, those guys (Little and Releford) are really good on the post. You can put Marcus at the 3, then post a guard. I think we’ll get to the point we’re actually decent doing that.”--Bill Self = Tyshawn, Selby, Little and Releford can't pot the triceratop and Marcus can.

"What I see a lot is posting him (Little) and playing Marcus on the perimeter so you get Marcus’ big man away from the basket and allow him (Little) to post a guard.”--Bill Self = Little can't pot the triceratop and Marcus can.

"[Releford] can slide. He’s long. He’s strong. He’s smart. There’s no reason why he can’t be a really good defender.”--Bill Self = Releford can't pot the triceratop.

“[TRob] is a beast. Unfortunately, he fouls the heck out of everybody. His game is still in fast forward. He has to slow down. He works hard. Thomas should be one of the most improved players in our league.”--Bill Self = He has the body I dream about having. I have a man crush on him, but as his D1 coach, I can't talk about it. He's going to become a credible big man this season and a great one next year...unfortunately we need him to be great this year and he's not ready.

"[Brady's] really been good. He’s had a good offseason. I think he’ll have a big senior year.”--Bill Self = Since I crapped out on recruiting long athletic guys that can both shoot, defend and protect on the perimeter, he's playing again.

“[Tyshawn's] worked very hard to make this a special year for himself.”--Bill Self = He's going to be a very good and consistent player, but he can't pot the triceratop.

" I just hope that whatever penalties are leveled, if any, it’ll be things that give him [Josh Selby] a chance to still enjoy his freshman year.”--Bill Self = The kid's in deep diddledy dooo dooo with the NCAA. The play all along was to get him for the second semester, or maybe all of next. He's that good.

“Royce is very good with the ball, and he is a typical freshman in that I have him totally screwed up. He doesn’t know if he’s coming or going. Most freshmen are like that. He’ll get it because he’s a bright kid. He’s a guy who can help us. For him to beat out Brady or Tyrel (Reed) or Elijah (Johnson) he’s going to have to play very well but he’s capable of doing that.”--Bill Self = If Selby plays, redshirt. If Selby doesn't play, no redshirt.

hawk316 9 years, 4 months ago

This was a fun read. Thank you, Gary! I especially enjoyed reading about Roberts' take on this year's team. Like...

“Extremely athletic. I think they will have a great ability to score. I think they can be one of coach Self’s best defensive teams because of their lateral quickness and length,” Roberts said.

I love this! As we know, great defense creates an awesome advantage. It will bring you victories in those games where your offense is sub-par which happens to every team during the course of a season. The '08 team had Mario and Russell who consistently caused havoc defensively, and that seemed to work out ok.

hawk316 9 years, 4 months ago

I also appreciated Roberts' comments about Bill Self. I know they're great buds, but this was truly high praise. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, we are so blessed to have this man as our basketball coach.

I do recall, however, that there were some dissenting voices during Self's first year or two at KU. For some reason, he wasn't measuring up in the eyes of some KU fans. Hmmm, I wonder if that has any relevance with respect to our current football program?

REHawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Hey, Naadir! Welcome to Lawrence. Congratulations on committing to the greatest basketball site in the history of the game. Here's hoping you have another terrific year before joining the 2011 Jayhawks. We look forward to reading about you lots in the future.

jaybate 9 years, 4 months ago

"Basketball Noir: Notes on the Appearances of the Norm Situation:"

Norm appears a good man caught up in a bad situation.

Perhaps the situation needs a metaphor to make some slight sense of it. One metaphor might be: Norm is like an honest vice cop, like Frank Serpico, caught on a corrupt vice squad. Norm has refused to take the bribes from the organized crime outfit in The Naked city that runs the pimps and their girls and all the vice and pays off the cops on vice.

Entirely metaphorically speaking (who knows what the actual truth is), in this film noir like drama, what the script might call the AAU and shoe pimps have apparently smeared Norm's rep as someone who wouldn't play ball, like the other cops on the take, who wouldn't look the other way and give them their cut for letting their "girls" work.

So continuing speaking entirely in metaphor: they wouldn't let Norm's school he was policiing and protecting and serving have any of their hottest girls.

So: St. John's went a little below .500 with what few girls the organization didn't control in The Naked City. St. John's apparently got tired of being a little below .500, because of all the underworld conflict. St. John's hired Norm precisely because he was supposed to be able to win "the right way." He couldn't.

But in the third act, the imaginary AAU and shoe pimps, as reputed by some, made it clear that they weren't ever going to let their girls work at St. John's until Norm was run from the force. They apparently got him excrement-canned.

In the denouement, maybe a lot of schools are afraid to hire him, because they are afraid the basketball recruiting underworld will deny him all their girls again, too.

Again, Norm seems a good man--a Serpico--albeit it without the brooding, intensely rightegous streak. And without the marital problems, too. But then Norm wasn't shot in the face by a perp with backup failing him, as Serpico reputedly was.

jaybate 9 years, 4 months ago

Alas, Frank Serpico called it quits on a police career, when he got shot in the face around the time of ratting out the corruption in NYPD. He reputedly moved to Switzerland and Holland to heal and try to start his life again. He eventually returned to America. But though he reputedly won the NYPD's highest medal for duty, Serpico never became a cop again. He wrote books and lectured and advised on police work and on ethics in law enforcement. But the brotherhood in blue and Frank Serpico apparently never let bygones be bygones and Serpico never enforced the law again.

It is somewhat unclear if Frank Serpico truly wanted to return to a police force.

Norm is clear he wants tor return to coaching, though he's at the mike this season.

Self seems to be doing his part to help rebuild Norm's professional cred.

But its a tough job in The Naked City of college basketball, because the metaphorical AAU and shoe pimps imagined in the fictional script previously reputedly control so many top athletes. Recruiting blue chips is tough enough without having the AAU and shoe pimps actively trying to deny you blue chips, or so the reputing goes.

I believe, normally, Self probably would have hired Norm back in an instant, because they are close and because Norm has always been reputed to be a terrific recruiter and straight shooter.

But at least in the metaphorical script referred to above, the AAU and shoe pimps appear to have made Norm too hot even for Self to hire and so risk the recruiting blow back initially.

Life is tough in The Naked City.

Here's hoping Norm Roberts can get back to doing what he does best; that university Presidents and Chancellors and coaches don't knuckle under the way so many other leaders in other fields in The Naked City that is America have knuckled under in recent years--to the shadowy cancers that grow upon our fair, but troubled nation in so many realms.

Rock Chalk Norm Roberts and Rock Chalk Bill Self for trying to help Norm to whatever extent he can.

Phog Allen called out the gamblers "back East" and stood up to them a long time ago. KU still perhaps pays the price for it daily in the asymmetric national media coverage that it receives from an industry uncomfortably intertwined with conflict of interests among the gaming industry, sports TV and sport. To this Jayhawk, it remains a price worth paying.

Corruption in sport ebbs and flows. It seems an incoming and rising tide presently. But one day we will get it back under more control.

But if Norm is the coach and man he appears, what a tragedy if a basketball professional like Norm Roberts goes down in this current flood of noir-ish, basketball sewage.

(Note: All of the above is opining and speculation.)

GoNkrzy 9 years, 4 months ago

Edith, or excuse me...(Jaybate)..stifle...!!!! Me thinks your aluminum foil hat is slipping.

GoNkrzy 9 years, 4 months ago

Edith, or excuse me...(Jaybate)..stifle...!!!! Me thinks your aluminum foil hat is slipping.

jaybate 9 years, 4 months ago

Hey, Mel, or excuse me...(GoNkrzy)...kiss my grits! Me thinks ur bed pan is overflowing. :-)

murph 9 years, 3 months ago

Good call, GoNkrzy... Except methinks Jaybate lost his tinfoil hat entirely at just the wrong time. Now whatever sense he may have had is thoroughly fried. Wish he'd take your advice and stifle already.... That would be SO nice...

REHawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Bill Self is a standup guy who reaches out to the folks who helped him to the throne. Did I read somehere that Bill did not have many really close friends? Hard to believe; because his surface personna absolutely reeks of friendliness and warm personal charm. And the fellow coaches, even competitors, in his world seem to stay in close touch and to express immediate admiration for his personal and coaching style. Has been fascinating to watch him embrace a hearty welcoming relationship with Div. I coaching newcomer Frank Martin. The little lady who has inherited the position of the chancellorship is mighty fortunate to have such an established and steady well-met ambassador to the university and Jayhawk sports program.

Michael Pannacciulli 9 years, 4 months ago

WHEN WILL SELBY BE CLEARED ALREADY!? This must be killing him, it's driving me nutty!

bayjate 9 years, 4 months ago

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bayjate 9 years, 4 months ago

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jaybate 9 years, 4 months ago

I like it. You don't do much, but you're trying to get better at it. :-)

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