FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Two spots have been filled on the Arkansas basketball coaching staff as Oronde Taliaferro and Rob Flaska have decided to join head coach Stan Heath with the Razorbacks, it was announced on Friday.
Taliaferro has coached and played under Heath. He was an assistant last season at Kent State University and helped guide the Golden Flashes to a 30-6 record, a berth in the Elite Eight and within one win of the Final Four, and the Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championships as Kent led the MAC in scoring defense (64.0 ppg), scoring margin (+11.9 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.418), rebounding margin (+5.0) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.24) while also ranking second in three-point field goal percentage defense (.326) and turnover margin (+2.78).
Heath, who was named Arkansas’ head coach on March 28 following one season as head coach at KSU and five years as an assistant under Tom Izzo at Michigan State, also coached Taliaferro at Wayne State University in Detroit.
“Oronde did a great job with us at Kent State,” Heath says. “His coaching and recruiting abilities impacted our team. We share a lot of history together. He’s a former player that I coached as well as someone I’ve watched grow into a terrific coach.”
Taliaferro completed his first season at Kent after five years as the boys varsity head coach at Detroit Central High School where his teams posted a combined record of 101-25. During the 1998 season, he guided Central to a 23-4 record and the Class A state championship in earning Detroit News & Free Press “Dream Team” Coach of the Year honors.
A two-time Public School League Coach of the Year, he also coached Central to the state semifinals in his first season (1997) while the 2001 squad went 20-4 for his second 20-win season in five years.
“I’m excited about being here and look at it as a challenge,” Taliaferro says. “Stan is a super person and coach, and I think Arkansas can return to its status as a national power.”
As a player, he led Wayne State to three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference titles, three NCAA Division II Sweet 16 appearances and a combined record of 71-20. He helped the Tarters reach the Final Four in 1993 and set a school record for victories in 1994 (25-5).
Heath originally recruited Taliaferro to Albion (Mich.) College, where he was an assistant in 1990 and 1991. Taliaferro played at Albion as a freshman before transferring to Wayne State.
Taliaferro prepped at Detroit Mumford High School where he was an honorable mention all-city selection as a senior after helping his team reach the city playoffs for the first time in 24 years. His coach at Mumford was the late Jim Boyce, the former Eastern Michigan University coach who recruited Heath to EMU in the mid-1980s.
Flaska is a former head coach who joins Heath’s staff following four years as an assistant under Billy Tubbs at TCU where the Horned Frogs went 21-11 in 1999, 18-14 in 2000, 20-10 in 2001 and 16-14 in 2002.
Flaska, who earned a master’s in business administration from Indiana State in 1984 and a bachelor’s in business administration from Michigan Tech University in 1982, helped put together recruiting classes at TCU, which were ranked best in the Western Athletic Conference in 1999 and 2000 by Basketball News, Basketball Times, Street & Smith’s, Sporting News and Dick Vitale’s, while the ’99 class was rated 13th-best and the 2001 class 34th-best in the nation by Hoop Scoop.
“I’m excited to have Rob join our program,” Heath says. “His experience as a head coach and his junior college background along with his ties in Texas and his background in Michigan will certainly be an asset to our program.”
Before going to TCU, he was the head coach for three seasons at Florida Community College in Jacksonville, Fla., with records of 18-14 in 1996, 23-10 in 1997 and 23-7 in ’98. His teams were nationally ranked in ’97 and ’98 with the ’97 club reaching the Region XIII finals and finishing second in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Mid-Florida Conference. While at FCC, Flaska had 10 players sign scholarships with Division I schools.
“Working at Arkansas and being in the SEC is exciting, but most of all, I’m excited about working with Stan Heath,” Flaska says. “I’ve known him for a long time and he is a super, super person. Coming to Arkansas is one thing, but working with a guy like Stan makes it even better.”
Flaska, who played at Michigan Tech and set school career records for steals and assists, began his coaching career as an assistant at Indiana State in 1983 and 1984, and as an assistant at Detroit Mercy in 1985 and ’86. He was the head coach at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., from 1987-91 with his clubs going 13-14, 25-9, 26-8, 28-6 and 29-7 with NJCAA Division I Michigan Eastern Conference championships and Michigan Community College Final Four appearances in 1989, ’90 and ’91. Mott won the state title in 1990, and was the Region XII champion and a national finalist in 1991. Flaska was voted conference Coach of the Year in ’89, ’90 and ’91, and Region XII Coach of the Year in ’91.
Flaska, who prepped at Glen Lake High in Maple City, Mich., and helped his team win the 1977 state title and earned all-state honors in 1978, also worked as an assistant at Texas-Pan American in 1992 and at Trinity Valley CC in 1994 and ’95 before going to Florida Community College in 1996.
Heath has one more opening on his staff but may not fill that spot until after the current recruiting period ends on April 30.