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Archive for Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Robinson: Return ‘should be interesting’

December 11, 2002

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— The University of Tulsa's $32 million Reynolds Center is not known as "The House that Steve Robinson Built."

However :

"I had some input in the design of the building," current Kansas University assistant and former Tulsa head coach Robinson said of the 8,355-seat building that opened in December of 1998.

"It's the first time I'll have been in the building (for a college game)," he added of tonight's 7 p.m. battle between Kansas and Tulsa. "I do look forward to that. I have great memories of being in Tulsa, a lot of friends still in Tulsa. It should be interesting, shouldn't it?"

Robinson's stay at Tulsa was short but sweet.

He left Roy Williams' first KU staff in 1995, directing the Golden Hurricane to a 46-18 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances in two seasons. He left for Florida State in '97, shortly after signing a contract extension at Tulsa.

Robinson returned to KU after the Seminoles dismissed him following last season.

"I enjoyed being at Tulsa and it was a great opportunity for me. We dug ourselves into the community, but I have no regrets about going to Florida State," Robinson said. "It was necessary because I needed to know some things about Steve Robinson and coaching at that level."

Bill Self replaced Robinson at Tulsa and stayed three years before bolting to Illinois. Self's successor, Buzz Peterson, lasted just one season before heading to Tennessee.

Current TU coach John Phillips, 55, is a native Oklahoman who is expected to bring long-sought stability to the program. He worked at TU for four years as an assistant before being promoted to head coach.

Phillips coached former Jayhawk standouts Kevin Pritchard and Archie Marshall at Tulsa's Edison High.

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Tulsa-KU connection: Williams recruited Jason Parker, a 6-foot-2 junior from out of Tulsa Memorial High.

"I really liked Jason. I saw him play during the summer several times," Williams said. "We got a commitment from DeShawn Stevenson and at the time decided we would stick with DeShawn and not recruit two guards. Now, would I have rather had Jason Parker since DeShawn was never going to show up on campus? I think that's a pretty easy answer."

Stevenson headed to the NBA straight out of high school.

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Series complete: Tonight's game completes a three-year contract between the schools. Tulsa fell to KU, 93-85, last season at Kemper Arena and, 92-69, in December of 2000 at Allen Fieldhouse. It was a 2-for-1 deal.

"It's a tough sell to get one of the top-five programs in America to come here," Phillips said. "Coach Williams was nice enough when we begged him and begged him. After about three years he finally agreed to play a game. It's tremendous for our program.

"We aspire to be Kansas, 99.9 percent of programs in America want to be like Kansas. It's not just the wins. We're talking about the character of their fans, the understanding of the game, the realization that it's a family deal where all students on campus care. The community obviously cares. There's a character that exists in the program that is all class."

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This 'n' that: The Jayhawks chartered a bus and drove to Tulsa on Tuesday night, dining in Coffeyville. They are to return on a charter after tonight's contest. : Not only is tonight's game sold out, but also 200 standing room only tickets will be sold at the door. : Reno media sources say Kansas has signed a 2-for-1 deal to play Nevada-Reno. The Jayhawks will play one game in Reno, Nev., for incoming KU recruit David Padgett of Reno.

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