Robert Staak

Robert Staak

ROBERT STAAK --- 1990 Inductee --- Head Basketball Coach (1979-85) and Athletic Director (1979-84).

The man behind the turnaround. That was Bob Staak. He took a struggling basketball program back to respectability.

Staak compiled an 88-86 record (.506) in six seasons as the Musketeer Head Coach. He worked to rebuild, compiling a 28-54 (.341) record in his first three years and a 60-32 (.652) record in his final three years. And he left a strong base for head coach Pete Gillen. Gillen complimented Staak several times during the record 25-5 season of 1985-86, particularly after a couple close wins. "Bob deserves a lot of the credit. He taught them how to win."

Staak began the rebuilding project by landing a blue chipper as his first recruit, high school All-American guard Anthony Hicks, prior to the 1979-80 season. In all, Staak brought in seven members of the XU 1,000-Point Club, including Byron Larkin, Anthony Hicks, Jeff Jenkins, Dexter Bailey, Richie Harris, Victor Fleming, and Stan Kimbrough. Staak coached Gary Massa, another 1,000-Point Club member, for two years.

There's no doubt that Staak had a knack for recognizing and bringing in talent. He also knew how to make a team win, bringing defense back into the vocabulary of XU basketball followers. The winning began in 1981, as XU compiled an 8-3 MCC record to capture its first league title ever. Staak was named MCC Coach of the Year.

The injury bug took its toll on Staak's troops in 1982, as XU fell to 8-20. But XU bounced back the next year with its winningest season since 1948. XU went 22-8, winning its first MCC Tournament Championship and grabbing its first NCAA berth since 1961. It was also XU's first non-conference post-season action since 1963.

Xavier equalled the 22-victory total a year later in one of the most exciting seasons in Musketeer history. XU compiled an 18-10 regular season record, including the 1983 Miller High Life Tournament Championship.

The Musketeers blasted St. Louis (72-60) and Loyola (80-69) in the 1984 MCC Tournament before losing a heartbreaker in the championship game, 68-66 to Oral Roberts. XU hoped its 20-11 mark could get it a post-season tourney bid. It did, back to the NIT for the first time since the 1958 Championship.

Xavier fans rocked Cincinnati Gardens for two NIT games, a 60-57 first round overtime victory over Ohio State and a 58-57 thriller over Nebraska in the second round. XU then packed its bags for Ann Arbor, Michigan for a quarterfinal matchup with UM. Eventual champion Michigan won, 63-62, but Xavier opened the eyes of the nation to its rising program.

Xavier, which moved its home to the Cincinnati Gardens after three home contests at Schmidt in the 1983-84 season, recorded a perfect 12-0 season in its new home.

As a fitting tribute to a great season, the entire senior class of 1984 was drafted in the NBA Draft: Victor Fleming (second round), Jeff Jenkins (fourth), John Shimko (ninth), and Dexter Bailey (tenth). Fleming was the 26th player chosen overall, the fifth highest pick in XU history.

Staak rebuilt the Musketeers again for the 1984-85 season, guiding the youngsters to a 16-13 record. It proved to be Staak's final year at XU before taking the head coaching position at Wake Forest.

There are a number of things that Bob Staak will be remembered for: the rebuilding of the program, the return to the NCAA, and the NIT Quarterfinalists. He also, as Athletic Director and Head Coach, led the Musketeers into conference play in all men's sports in 1979. He moved the women into the North Star Conference in 1983 with the help of Jeff Fogelson and Laurie Massa.

There are many other memorable notes about Bob Staak's stay. Many XU fans remember that he is the one that stopped the UC domination of college basketball in Cincinnati. He took over a program that had lost eight straight games to the Bearcats. Before leaving, he compiled a 4-2 (.667) mark against XU's crosstown rivals.

The win total increased. The fan support increased. Xavier basketball turned the corner during Staak's six-year stay.