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Robinson excited as Pitt prepares for Georgetown

Kevin Gorman
| Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 6:46 p.m.
Pitt's James Robinson tries to dribble past Mount St. Mary's  Josh Xatellanos in the second half Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)
Pitt's James Robinson tries to dribble past Mount St. Mary's Josh Xatellanos in the second half Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

If James Robinson was looking forward to the second stop on his first Big East road trip, it's because the Verizon Center feels like home to the Pitt freshman.

Robinson is excited about playing for the Panthers (12-3, 0-2 Big East) against No. 19 Georgetown (10-2, 0-1) at 9 p.m. Tuesday at the site where he and Hoyas sophomore forward Mikael Hopkins led DeMatha Catholic to three city championships.

“Obviously, that arena is great, and Georgetown is a good team,” Robinson said. “It was my first time playing on an NBA court. You want to have fun, take in the whole experience, but at the same time play as well as you can. It'll be fun to go back there and basically play against my brother.”

Robinson finished his high school career as the winningest player in the history of DeMatha's storied program, with 120 victories. That success has made Pitt's 0-2 start in Big East play hard to swallow, especially when the 6-foot-3, 200-pound point guard has averaged 5.5 points and 3.5 assists in the first two games. He has shot 20 percent (3 of 12) from the field and is 0 for 3 on 3-pointers.

“Each game is a new learning experience for me,” he said. “I'm trying to take each of my mistakes from the previous game and correct them before the upcoming game.”

Pitt assistant coach Brandin Knight, who started for the Panthers as a freshman in 1999-2000, said Robinson's contributions aren't always reflected by numbers.

Knight would like to see Robinson play more aggressive offensively, noting his shooting percentage is low because he often takes difficult shots as the shot clock is winding down.

What Knight likes is that Robinson has yet to be rattled by full-court pressure, and that his 4.64 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks among the nation's top 10.

“Sometimes, people can miss your value when it doesn't show on the stats yet,” Knight said. “Whether it be a lot of points, assists or numbers, the fact is the kid just knows where everybody is supposed to be on the floor, knows when to get the ‘hockey assists.'

“The kid's a winner. He's won at every level, at all of the highest levels. Hopefully, it's going to translate in the next couple of weeks and we'll get this thing turned around.”

Where Georgetown pursued 6-foot-9 point guard Kyle Anderson, who chose UCLA instead, Robinson said he's “happy” with his decision to pick Pitt.

Knight said he believes Robinson would love nothing more than to beat the Hoyas, especially on the same floor where he won three city championships.

“He won't say it outwardly, but I think every kid wants to be loved by his hometown or hometown school,” said Knight, who wasn't heavily recruited by Seton Hall despite playing at Seton Hall Prep. “James will treat it like it's an ordinary game, but I think it will really mean a lot to him for us to get that win, especially down there.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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