There are many important components which play a vital role in the success of Kentucky basketball: The players, the head coach, University support, the Athletic Director, the fan base, and an often overlooked, yet integral part of that success ... the assistant coaches.
With John Calipari recently naming his assistants (and a probable Director of Basketball Operations), I thought it important to introduce the men responsible for recruiting, in-game coaching, position coaching, individual instruction, along with a plethora of other obligations for the 2009-2010 Kentucky Wildcats:
Age -- 45
Marital Status -- Married, with three daughters.
Robic attended North Hills High School in Pittsburgh, PA.
He originally attended Walsh College in Canton, Ohio ('82-'84), but transferred to Denison University in Granville, Ohio ('84-'86) after his sophomore year. He was a two-year captain of the basketball team at Denison, and a Division III All-America his senior year. He left Denison as the sixth leading scorer in school history -- He earned his B.A. in Speech Communication and Physical Education in 1986.
1986-1988 -- He was a graduate assistant at Kansas under head coach Larry Brown (this is also where he met Calipari). Of course Kansas won the National Championship in 1988 behind the incredible play of Danny Manning.
1988-1999 -- Robic worked under Calipari, and Bruiser Flint at UMass. When Bill Bayno left the UMass staff to take the head coaching job at UNLV in 1995, Robic was promoted to associate head coach; a capacity he served in until he left the school in 1999.
1999-2005 -- Robic was the head coach at Youngstown State University. During his time at YSU, he led the school's transition from the Mid-Continent Conference to the Horizon League. During his tenure at YSU 16 of the 18 student-athletes who exhausted their eligibility either earned, or were on target to earn their degree. Robic's record in his six years was 58-113.
2005-2009 -- He was an assistant to Calipari at Memphis.
Age - 36
Marital Status - Married, with a son and daughter.
Antigua attended St. Raymond's High School ('88-'91) in the Bronx, NY. His senior year he was named All-New York City, as well as a Parade and McDonald's All-America. He left St. Raymond's as the second all-time leading scorer in school history.
Scary, but interesting item: Antigua was shot in the head, near his left eye, in a 1988 Halloween incident. The doctors deemed it too risky to attempt to retrieve the bullet, so it remained in his head until the mid-90's (more on that below). He was back on the court playing two weeks later.
He played his AAU ball with the famed New York Gauchos.
He attended Pittsburgh ('91-'95), where he played under Paul Evans. In the 6'7" forward's four year career he averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Antigua finished his college career with 117 made three-pointers (38.6%). Antigua was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team in 1992. He was also a two-year captain at Pitt, and in 1994 was named the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association Most Courageous Athlete. Antigua graduated from Pitt in 1995 with a B. A. in Social Sciences.
The Dominican Republic born Antigua played for the D.R. National team in '94-'95, and '97-'98. He also played in the Puerto Rico Superior Basketball League for eight years (in the summer).
In December of 1995, Antigua became the first non-black to play for the Harlem Globetrotters in 52 years. He performed in 48 countries around the world.
Playing for the Globetrotters is where he picked up his nickname, "Hurricane," because of his "dazzling moves and quickness."
While playing in Puerto Rico, not long after joining the 'Trotters, Antigua began experiencing severe head aches. It was soon discovered that the bullet in his head had moved into his ear canal. Surgeons removed the slug, and he has suffered no symptoms related to the shooting since.
In 2001 Antigua was named one of the nations Top-100 Most Influential Hispanic Americans by Hispanic Business Magazine.
He left the Globetrotters in February of 2002.
2002-2003 -- Antigua was an assistant basketball coach at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pennsylvania.
2003-2008 -- He joined Jamie Dixon's Pittsburgh staff in the summer of '03 as the Director of Basketball Operations. In June of '06 he was named an assistant coach, a position he served in until his departure in 2008.
2008-2009 -- He was hired by Calipari to be an assistant coach at Memphis in 2008.
Age -- 42
Marital status -- Single
Strickland originally attended Truman High School in New York City, but transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia for his senior year.
Coming out of high school he was considered to be one of the top-10 recruits in the nation.
He also played his AAU ball with the famed New York Gauchos.
Strickland matriculated to DePaul University ('85-'88) to play for coach Joey Meyer.
He was a two-time All-America selection at DePaul, where he averaged 16.6 points, 6.4 assists (2.9 turnovers), 3.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game for his career. The 6'3" guard shot 53.4% from the field for his career, and in his senior season he recorded 202 assists to only 81 turnovers.
Strickland was the first round draft pick of the New York Knicks in the 1988 NBA draft (19th overall).
He played 17 seasons in the Association for a variety of teams: The Knicks ('88-'90), Trail Blazers ('92-'96, '01), Bullets/Wizards ('96-'01), Heat ('01-'02), Timberwolves ('02-'03), Magic ('03-'04), Raptors ('04) and Rockets ('05).
In his illustrious NBA career Strickland played in 1,094 games, scoring 14,463 points (13.2 ppg) and dishing out 7,987 assists (7.3 apg). He also recorded 1,616 steals (1.3 spg).
His best year in the NBA was the '97-'98 season when he averaged 17.8 points per game, and led the league with 10.5 assists per game. That year he also became only the 25th player in NBA history to score 10,000 points and dish out 5,000 assists.
For a complete statistical look at Strickland's NBA career, go here.
2006-2009 -- Strickland joined Calipari's staff at Memphis as the Director of Student-Athlete Development/Manager (replacing Milt Wagner). In 2008 he became the Director of Basketball Operations while taking classes to complete his Bachelor's Degree.
*Calipari is at the moment unsure if Strickland will be an assistant coach on the staff here at UK, or the Director of Basketball Operations. If Calipari decides to name him the D.O.B.O. (a high probability) then another assistant will most likely be hired.
Some of the responsibilities of the Director of Basketball Operations -- Arranging official visits, and team travel, along with monitoring academic progress.
There has been lots of speculation on who that fourth hire may be, including three former 'Cats: Scott Padgett, who has openly lobbied for the position and will surely get serious consideration, Tony Delk, and Kyle Macy (former Morehead State head coach).
A Sea of Blue will be live-streaming the Wazoosports Kentucky Derby Festival Classic basketball game, Saturday night at 7:00 EST.
Probable future 'Cat Daniel Orton, along with Kentucky Mr. Basketball and UK signee Jon Hood, will be performing. UK target Nolan Dennis, and a host of future high-major players will also be displaying their skills. It should be a great game.
If you can't attend be sure to "tune-in" to A Sea of Blue; courtesy of Wazoosports.com.
Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!