John Calipari calls his coaching staff a "family," and he welcomed back a member of his family to Memphis when John Robic joined the staff in the summer of 2005. Robic, whose first association with Calipari came when their paths briefly crossed at Kansas in the mid-1980s, joined the Memphis staff after serving as head coach at Youngstown State.
And it seems as if the Calipari-Robic duo is a proven combination for thrilling basketball seasons. Similar to those magical years he assisted in at UMass in the 1990s, Robic, in three seasons at Memphis (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08), has helped lead the Tigers to the program's most storied era in school history.
The last three years, the Tigers won an NCAA record-tying 104 games (104-10 record), advanced to the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Elite Eights and 2008 NCAA title game and swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament crowns. Memphis had win streaks of 26 games in 2007-08 and 25 games in 2006-07, and the Tigers spent each week of the last three years in the national polls -- one of only two schools in the nation to do so (UCLA is the other).
Last season, Robic was a part of the Tigers' "Dream Season," which lasted through the NCAA championship game. Memphis set an NCAA record for victories with 38 wins (38-2 mark) and held down the No. 1 spot in both national polls for a school-record, five-straight weeks during the season. The Tigers won a school-record, 26-straight games, and swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles.
The Tigers won 30 games for a third-straight year, becoming the second school in NCAA Division I history to accomplish the feat. Kentucky was the first to do so from 1947-49 and 1996-98. UCLA joined the elite group later in 2007-08.
Memphis repeated C-USA history that it set in 2006-07, going undefeated in league play (16-0 record) and winning the conference tournament championship. The Tigers finished the year ranked No. 2 in both polls, the highest final ranking in school history.
In 2006-07, Robic helped guide Memphis to another record-setting campaign. The Tigers won 33 games for a second-straight season (33-4 record) and captured their second-consecutive Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. Memphis advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for a second-straight year (2006, 2007), marking the first time in school history that happened.
The 2006-07 Tigers also pulled a first in Conference USA history. Memphis posted a perfect 16-0 regular season mark and captured the league's postseason tournament. The Tigers received a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and finished in the top 10 in both national polls (No. 5/AP; No. 7/ESPN-USA Today).
In the Tigers' 2005-06 remarkable season, Memphis posted a 33-4 record and won the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. The sweep of the conference regular season and tournament crowns was accomplished for the first time since 1984-85. The 2005-06 Memphis squad earned the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1992. The Tigers finished the season ranked in the top 10 of both national polls (No. 4/AP; No. 6/ESPN-USA Today).
Prior to 2005-06, Robic directed the Youngstown State program from 1999-2005, and during his time there, he and his staff faced a huge challenge as the Penguins moved from the Mid-Continent Conference (Mid-Con) to the Horizon League, one of the nation's premier basketball conferences that includes Butler (2003, 2007 NCAA Sweet 16) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2005 NCAA Sweet 16).
Robic's Penguins best finish in the Horizon League was a sixth-place showing in the 2002-03 campaign, the program's second year in its new conference.
Prior to its move to the Horizon League, Youngstown State put together a tremendous year in the Mid-Con in 2000-01, Robic's second year at the helm. The Penguins posted a 19-11 overall mark and an 11-5 Mid-Con record. The 19 overall wins were the second-most in 16 seasons, and the 11 league victories tied the school record for most conference wins.
Before taking over at Youngstown State, Robic served as an assistant for 11 years at UMass for both Calipari and Bruiser Flint, helping the Minutemen rise from one of the country's worst programs to one of the nation's elite.
Robic played an integral role in building the Minutemen into a national power. After a 10-18 mark his first season on staff, Robic helped lead the Minutemen to nine-consecutive winning campaigns.
From 1990-96, the Minutemen averaged 26 wins per year, and had six-straight 20-win seasons, including two 30-victory campaigns. In that seven-year span, UMass won five-straight Atlantic 10 Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Minutemen earned five-straight NCAA Tournament bids and advanced past the first round all five years. UMass made the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 1992, Elite Eight in 1995 and Final Four in 1996. It was UMass' first-ever appearance on college basketball's largest stage. Prior to the NCAA Tournament run, the Minutemen played in consecutive NITs in 1990 and 1991, advancing to the final four in 1991.
After Calipari moved on to the NBA, Robic remained at UMass and was elevated to the associate head coach post under Flint from 1997-99. UMass went 54-41 in those three seasons, and made postseason appearances in 1997 (NCAA) and 1998 (NIT).
During his tenure at UMass, the Minutemen posted a 247-111 overall record (.690 winning percentage) and earned nine postseason tournament bids (seven NCAA, two NIT). While at UMass, Robic coached UTEP head coach Tony Barbee and UMass head coach Derek Kellogg.
Prior to joining Calipari at UMass, Robic served as a graduate assistant on Larry Brown's staff at Kansas for two years (1986-87, 1987-88). While in Lawrence, he was a member of the coaching staff that led the Jayhawks to a 52-22 two-year mark and consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The 1986-87 squad advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16, and the 1987-88 team, dubbed "Danny Manning and The Miracles," won the NCAA championship behind the spectacular performance of the Jayhawk All-American.
A graduate of North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pa., Robic attended Walsh College in Canton, Ohio, before transferring to Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where he earned his B.A. in Speech Communication and Physical Education in 1986.
At Denison, Robic garnered Division III All-America accolades as a senior and was a two-time all-conference performer. He was one of 10 former players to be named to the 10th Anniversary All-Decade Team in the league in 1994. In the fall of 2006, he was inducted into the Denison Athletic Hall of Fame. Robic was inducted into the North Hills High School Hall of Fame in 2004.
Robic and his wife, Heidi, have three daughters, Hayley, Alli and Sophie.