They got so close that Pelphrey even named his daughter, Ann-Marie Grace Donovan, after his one-time coach and longtime mentor.
“Bringing some familiarity back here, someone that knows me, that knows Florida, understands the SEC, understands the program, its importance,” Donovan said. “John knows the league. He knows what I’m going to be looking for and wanting in recruiting and knows the office and all those things.”
Roberts, a 1987 graduate of Queens College in New York City, spent six seasons at St. John’s before he was fired last year. He was 81-101 and never made the NCAA tournament.
Roberts also served as an assistant under Kansas coach Bill Self at four different schools. He was associate head coach at Kansas (2003-04) and an assistant at Illinois (2000-03), Tulsa (1997-2000) and Oral Roberts (1995-97).
“Norm’s a guy that’s been around,” Donovan said. “He’s been at Kansas, he’s been at Illinois, he’s been at St. John’s, been in a lot of different leagues, had to recruit nationally. … The first thing you have to look at is high quality people. He has an impeccable reputation.”
The Gators expect to have a team capable of competing for the Southeastern Conference championship and making another run in the NCAA tournament. Although Donovan lost three starters _ Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin _ he returns everyone else and adds Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario and highly coveted shooting guard Brad Beal, a McDonald’s All-American from St. Louis.
“I don’t know who it’s going to be right now,” Donovan said. “Some of this is happening quickly. I wanted to get two people in place right away that I thought could make a great impact.”
AP Sports Writers Will Graves in Louisville, Ky., and Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.