Pitt basketball notebook: Robinson showing maturity beyond his years
There has been an adjustment period for James Robinson since Big East play began, but the Pitt freshman point guard showed he's cool in the clutch.
Robinson sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:42 remaining and four free throws in the final 29.9 seconds to clinch the Panthers' 69-61 victory over Connecticut on Saturday at Petersen Events Center.
“That's what he does,” senior guard Tray Woodall said. “He's a patient player. He's poised in clutch situations, and this team has trust in him. A lot of teams don't have trust in a freshman like we do with James, but he instilled it in us, and we'll definitely go to that guy and know he'll be ready when the time comes.”
Robinson finished with 12 points on 3 of 6 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers, and the four free throws. He also had two assists, two turnovers and a steal in 27 minutes.
“You can't expect nothing more from a freshman,” Woodall said. “The things he does well definitely don't show up on the stat sheet. He's definitely one of the floor generals here.”
Robinson's 3-pointer came on a pass from Dante Taylor, who spotted him open in the right corner after running a pick-and-roll with Lamar Patterson.
Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie couldn't complain.
“We played our percentages there,” Ollie said. “He's a good player, and he stepped up and hit a shot.”
Ollie spent 13 seasons in the NBA, so he's used to seeing one of the oldest tricks in the playbook. What he wasn't happy about is that when the Panthers ran the play again, Taylor took a pass from Woodall and popped a 15-footer.
“We got beat on a pick-and-roll,” Ollie said. “It's the toughest thing to guard. That's why Malone and Stockton ran it for so long.”
No defending this duo
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon was proud of how the Panthers played defense, even though they repeatedly allowed Huskies guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright to beat them off the dribble and to the basket.
“You're not going to keep them down,” Dixon said. “They're two of the quickest, most explosive guards in the country.”
Boatright was 1 of 7 from the field in the first half but made 6 of 12 shots in the second half. He also had six assists and four steals, including one for a breakaway dunk.
“My shots weren't falling,” Boatright said. “If your shot is not falling, you try to get to the basket. Second half, I was just trying to get to the basket. It was wide open, so I just kept doing it the rest of the game.”
Napier was questionable after injuring his right shoulder against Louisville. The junior guard finished with eight points, 9.1 below his team-best scoring average.
“You can tell he wasn't himself,” Boatright said. “We just need him to get healthy as fast as possible.”
Napier was a game-time decision but played 34 minutes.
“He was out on the court,” Ollie said. “He was 100 percent.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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