St. John's Fires Norm Roberts

This was all about winning

By Bruce Beck
|  Friday, Mar 19, 2010  |  Updated 6:42 PM EDT
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It's Not Just How You Play The Game, Winning Still Counts

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NEW YORK - MARCH 07: Head coach Norm Roberts of the St. Johns Red Storm looks on against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first round of the Big East Championship at Madison Square Garden On March 7, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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It's Not Just How You Play The Game, Winning Still Counts

After restoring integrity to St. John's, Norm Roberts is dismissed with an overall record of 81-101.
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Add Norm Roberts to the list of local college basketball coaching casualties. St. John's "parted ways" with the 45-year-old Queens native today after he failed to lead them back to prominence during 6 seasons at the one-time powerhouse.

Bobby Gonzalez was fired as Seton Hall's head basketball coach on Wednesday.

But this divorce is much different. It is not about ethics. It is not about lack of control. It is not about lack of respect. Those were things that felled Gonzalez after a turbulent tenure in South Orange, N.J.

This was about winning. Roberts was 81-101 at St. John's and just 32 and 70 against Big East competition. And Wednesday night, the Red Storm lost their first round NIT game to Memphis at the buzzer. It was only their second post-season appearance during Roberts' reign -- and none of those were trips to the NCAA Tournament.

But Roberts did do what he was brought in to do -- clean up a scandal ridden program. He succeeded Kevin Clark, who served as the school's interim coach after Mike Jarvis was axed during the 2003-2004 campaign.

During Jarvis' era the team was involved in a series of incidents which including allegations of assault by a player -- and a  highly-publicized sex scandal in a Pittsburgh hotel room with a stripper. Plus there were revelations that someone from the basketball staff had paid a player, center Abe Keita, money during his career.

Roberts made these sordid details a bad memory. He conducted himself with class throughout. He was extremely well liked by his players, rival coaches and the media.

But after six years, the university decided it needs to start winning again and needed a "new voice" to get them back to the Lou Carnesecca, Chris Mullin, Walter Berry, Mark Jackson glory days.

That will not be an easy task. Nor will be the one that starts today -- finding the right coach to change the losing culture and restore the Red Storm to glory.

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