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Tuesday April 12, 2011Donovan Adds Former Head Coaches Pelphrey and Roberts To Coaching Staff

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan didn’t have to research the two newest members of his staff for long.

Donovan has already hired one of them previously and the other has deep New York roots like Donovan.

Donovan announced  Tuesday that he has hired former Gators assistant John Pelphrey, who spent six seasons on Donovan’s staff at Florida from 1996-2002, and Norm Roberts, who most recently served as head coach at St. John’s for six seasons.

In what has been an offseason of transition for Donovan, Pelphrey and Roberts provide experience and stability.

The addition of Pelphrey and Roberts gives Donovan a pair of experienced head coaches he can lean on the way he did former associate head coach Larry Shyatt, who left earlier this month to become head coach at Wyoming, and Rob Lanier, who is leaving as well to accept a position on the staff at the University of Texas. After leaving Florida after the 2001-02 season, Pelphrey became a head coach for the first time at South Alabama.

“Having John back will be a great addition to our program,’’ Donovan said. “Obviously, he has a level of familiarity with me and with the University of Florida makes this a great fit. John’s a great coach, he’s a great friend and has a love for Florida, and we’re excited to bring him back.”

In five seasons, Pelphrey led the Jaguars to an 80-67 record and back-to-back 20-win seasons his final two years, including a first-round NCAA matchup with Donovan’s Gators in 2006. Florida won and went on to capture the first of consecutive national championships.

Pelphrey took over at Arkansas in 2007 and in four seasons, he led the Razorbacks to a 69-60 record and one trip to the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas finished 18-13 in his final season.

This is the third time Donovan and Pelphrey have worked together. Donovan hired Pelphrey on his first coaching staff at Marshall in 1994, and after two seasons, Pelphrey came to Gainesville when Donovan took over the Gators in 1996. The Gators were 124-65 during Pelphrey’s six seasons at UF and advanced to the 2000 national championship game against Michigan State.

He and Donovan have remained close throughout the years, their special bond highlighted in a CBS feature shown during the Final Four that also involved Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, a former Donovan assistant at Marshall and Florida as well.

Meanwhile, Roberts is a native of Queens, New York. A teammate of former NBA player Anthony Mason in high school, Roberts got his first head-coaching job at Division II Queens College in 1991. Roberts later served on Bill Self’s staff at four different stops: Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas. He was the associate head coach at Kansas during the 2003-04 season when the Jayhawks reached the Elite Eight.

“Being from New York, I’ve known Norm for a long time,’’ Donovan said. “He’s an outstanding coach, he’s a great recruiter, has high character and integrity and I’m thrilled to have him on our staff here at Florida.”

Roberts took over St. John’s prior to the 2004-05 season and posted a 64-85 record in six seasons, reaching the NIT in 2010, his final season with the Red Storm.

Pelphrey and Roberts fill two voids in the coaching staff. Richard Pitino will also be departing to accept another position, leaving one final vacancy for Donovan to fill.


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