| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Robinson impressing Dixon with development

ACC Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt's James Robinson pulls down a second-half rebound in front of South Florida's Toarlyn Fitzpatrick on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at Petersen Events Center.

By the numbers

The statistics of Pitt freshman guard James Robinson (left):

Points per game 5.8

Assists/turnover 3.2

Foul shooting 49-62 (79 percent)

Minutes per game 26.6

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 11:36 p.m.

James Robinson was in ninth grade when Pitt coach Jamie Dixon started recruiting him.

With that type of constant influence, it's no wonder Robinson, a freshman guard, is excelling in three of the four basketball basics that his coach covets the most:

Pass properly. Protect the ball. Play tight defense.

Rebounds also are high on the coach's list, but considering Robinson is the second-shortest player on the team at 6-foot-3, Dixon gladly will accept his 2.2 per game.

“He's done a lot of good things,” Dixon said after Robinson put the clamps on South Florida guard Anthony Collins in a 64-44 Pitt victory Wednesday. “Ball movement, he's knocking down free throws. I know he's going to be a good shooter for us. We just got to get him taking that right shot at the right time.”

Robinson leads the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio (10 332, 3.2), but defense is what he does best.

Before shutting down Collins, Robinson held Syracuse's Brandon Triche and St. John's D'Angelo Harrison to a combined 5 of 26 from the floor. Add Collins' 2 for 8, and the trio shot 20.6 percent (7 for 34) in three Pitt victories.

Robinson hasn't been perfect, struggling against Marquette's Vander Blue (13 of 20, 29 points in two games) and Providence's Bryce Cotton (9 of 16, 24). But when Robinson shuts down the opponent's best guard, Pitt usually wins.

“The defending part of it, he's picked it up to a high level early in the freshman year,” Dixon said. “That's rare. He has good size, good athletic ability and smarts. He takes pride in what he is doing defensively.”

Last year, when Robinson was at DeMatha Catholic (Md.) High School, Collins scored 22 points in a 56-47 victory against Pitt. With Robinson trailing him Wednesday, Collins had only six points — and no field goals until the final 3:46 of the game.

Robinson said he didn't watch much video of last year's game, but he followed his teammates' advice.

“They told me he was going to force the issue a little bit, he's going to dribble low and he's quick,” Robinson said. “So, I just tried to give him space, just stay in front of him. I knew I had my guys on the help side, so I knew I could be a little bit aggressive.”

After 29 games, Robinson is displaying an understanding of the game, even if Dixon's demands occasionally confuse him.

“He's still figuring things out,” Dixon said. “He doesn't quite understand what I'm saying at times and that's normal for a freshman, for a lot of guys.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pitt

  1. Preseason honors piling up for former Pitt tackle Bisnowaty
  2. Panthers freshmen give back, visit Mel Blount Youth Home
  3. Akron defensive lineman Hargrove commits to Pitt
  4. Pitt’s Blair faces court date on DUI charge