Very few basketball coaches ever make it to an NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four. Even fewer get to the championship game. And even fewer do it four times.
Denison graduate John Robic ’86 is on his way to his fourth national championship game Monday night (April 7) in Dallas. In his fourth trip to the title game, he has coached as a staff member of three different powerhouse programs — Kansas, Memphis and Kentucky.
Currently an assistant for Kentucky head coach John Calipari, Robic will try to help guide the Wildcats to their eighth national championship as they set their sights on the University of Connecticut Huskies.
A native Pittsburgh, Robic earned his B.A. in communication and physical education from Denison in 1986. As a basketball standout for the Big Red, he was honored as an NCAA Division III All-American as a senior and was named to the All-NCAC squad twice. He was one of 10 conference hoop stars to be recognized on the NCAC’s first All-Decade Team in 1994. Robic was inducted into the North Hills High School Hall of Fame in 2004, and Denison honored him with induction into its Varsity D Association Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
Two years ago, Calipari and Robic led Kentucky to the national title by defeating Kansas, the school where Robic had won his first NCAA championship ring as an assistant for Larry Brown and the Jayhawks back in 1988.
When Calipari made the move from Memphis to Kentucky in 2009, he asked Robic to join him, and the two have been coaching together a total of 18 years now, beginning on the staff at UMass in 1989. They helped UK make history when five Wildcats were drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft. Then four more Wildcats were picked in the 2011 NBA Draft. Now with their team of youngsters, including five freshman starters, Calipari and Robic will try to help recreate the magic that brought Kentucky the championship trophy in 2012.
So Monday night, a lot of Denison Big Red fans across the country will be cheering on Robic and his Wildcats, rooting for the boys in blue from Lexington to capture another championship trophy for UK. We’re with you, John. Go Big Red! And go Cats!