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Pitt notebook: Pitt's Robinson familiar with Florida's Donovan

| Friday, March 21, 2014, 8:57 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pitt point guard James Robinson works against Colorado's Jaron Hopkins during the second half of their NCAA second round game Thursday, March 20, 2014, at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida's Billy Donovan and Pitt's Jamie Dixon never have coached against one another, but James Robinson has played for both.

The Pitt sophomore point guard played for Donovan on the USA Basketball 18- and 19-under teams that won gold medals in the FIBA world championships each of the past two summers.

“They're really intense. Both want everything to be as close to perfect as they can,” Robinson said. “I remember playing for Coach Donovan, even though we were beating a team really bad, he still wanted us to execute and play sound. That's the same things that Coach Dixon wants.”

The difference, Robinson said, is in their sideline methods.

“Coach Dixon will yell straight onto the court or stomp his foot to get our attention. Coach Donovan whistles. That's how he gets his players. It's going to be a lot of fun going up against him,” said Robinson, who also was a teammate of Florida guard Michael Frazier II.

“(Donovan) expects his point guards to run the team, really, be the leaders on the court, make plays when it's there. I think I have a pretty good feel, watching their games and playing for him the last two summers.”

Donovan was complimentary of Robinson's play at the point, calling him a “winner” and crediting his “great IQ for the game.”

“I love James,” Donovan said. “Really had a lot do with our team the last two summers winning gold medals.”

NBA intrigues Donovan

Donovan, who has 448 career victories at Florida, is tied with former LSU coach Dale Brown for second-most wins by a coach in the SEC (behind Kentucky's Adolph Rupp).

But Donovan, who accepted the Orlando Magic coaching job in June 2007 only to return to Florida days later, avoided calling himself a college basketball lifer.

“I've always said this: To me, the NBA part of it is, it's all basketball. I got into coaching because of the basketball piece of it, and there is an intrigue as it relates to that,” Donovan said. “One of the things that I think I've learned, when you try to project where your future is, where you're going to be, and you don't know because I don't have a crystal ball. All I can say is I am happy here at Florida. I love being here.”

Not intimidated

Pitt redshirt junior shooting guard Cameron Wright made waves when he took umbrage at a reporter who asked if he was intimidated by the prospect of playing the nation's No. 1 team in Florida.

Pitt wasted no time in tweeting a photo of Wright with his quote: “The University of Pittsburgh is never intimidated by anyone. Not in academics. Not in basketball. Not in football. Not in anything.”

“It's trending (on Twitter), so it's a remarkable feeling to see the love and appreciation coming from our support system within the Zoo, the staff and students,” Wright said.

“If we were scared to play against anybody, we shouldn't be in this tournament. That's definitely not the case. You can't look at an opponent and be fearful or you've already lost.”

It's the second time in a week Wright has become the poster boy for Pitt athletics. The business-marketing major, who will graduate this summer, was the recipient of the ACC's Skip Prosser Award for top-scholar athlete in the basketball conference.

“I didn't know how huge the award was,” Wright said. “My mom (Cheryl), she was astonished and extremely happy for me. To see my mother as proud as she was, that made my day, made my year.”

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

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