March 12, 2008

Robinson Departs Just Prior to Ivy Play

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After losing three consecutive games, the men’s basketball team’s momentum picked up after an overtime win against Quinnipiac, a competitive loss to Duke and wins over Alvernia and NJIT. Junior Jeff Foote was finally getting into a groove after being forced to sit out the first semester due to NCAA transfer regulations. All these events gave the Red momentum going into Ivy League play.
Preparing to live up to its preseason prediction as Ivy League champs, the team held a practice leading up to its home contest against Columbia. The players, however, were not prepared for the departure of one its top performers, junior Collin Robinson. Robinson, who was third on the team in scoring, second in assists and minutes played, informed assistant coach Zach Spiker that he was leaving the team 13 games into the season.
“I remember the practice and seeing coach Spiker on the phone,” Foote said. “His facial expression changed so dramatically, you could see that Collin left the team. It was real confusing for everybody and everybody didn’t understand why he left.”
Robinson functioned as one of the team’s primary ball handlers and was able to score in a variety of ways for the Red. After transferring from USC, Robinson averaged 10.6 points and 4.4 assists.
“It stunned a lot of people,” Foote said. “I, for one, was really sad because Collin and I had a half year practicing together because we couldn’t play. We worked out a lot together, and we had pretty solid chemistry. It was sad, but he felt like it was better for him.”
With conference play quickly approaching, it was up to head coach Steve Donahue to keeps his team’s morale high.
“It is all of our responsibilities to win games [despite the loss of Robinson]” said men’s head coach Steve Donahue. “It’s not what happens, it is how you react to it.”
“Collin was such a big part, he made our team better,” Foote said. “When he left we just started to play better basketball and it was coming together. If we would have let it eat us up, it would have put our season down the drain.”
Despite losing Robinson, the Red swept its conference schedule for the first time in school history. Much credit can be given to junior guard Adam Gore who became more aggressive upon Robinson’s departure. Junior Jason Battle and sophomore Geoff Reeves also did their parts in replacing the former sixth man. Battle, who gave majority of his ball handling duties to Robinson earlier in the year, has re-emerged as one of the team’s ball handlers and Reeves has proven to be a scoring threat as Robinson was, albeit in different ways.
However, the biggest difference has come from the frontline. Going most of the year unnoticed, the Red’s frontcourt has proven to be one of the better groupings of big men in the Ivy League, if not the best.
“I feel like our post players have improved the most over the season,” Battle said. “They always had a defensive presence, but their scoring and aggression has improved.”
The Red led the Ivy League in rebounding margin, and each one of its primary bigs have led the team in scoring in at least one game this season.