When freshman Stanford Robinson entered Tuesday afternoon’s loss to the Illini at the 11:19 mark, he quickly turned the ball over with a travel. His stint lasted less than two minutes, as was subbed out at the 9:36 mark.
But Robinson would see more time as the game went along. Tom Crean called upon the Maryland native to cover the Illini’s best player, Rayvonte Rice. In 22 possessions matched up against him, Robinson held Rice to just 1-of-6 shooting, though Rice did also make two free throws off a Robinson foul. Twice Robinson stayed with Rice all the way to the hoop and Noah Vonleh assisted with a block on the backline behind him. That second block came on the Illini’s last possession in regulation with the game tied. Robinson also did a nice job of recognizing ball screens and working his way around and through them to keep a body in front of Rice.
Both Dan Dakich on the call and Crean after the game praised Robinson’s defense.
“The key with people like Rice is you got to keep your chest in front of them because they want angles and they overpower you and they’re going to put a lot of pressure on the whistle every time they catch it,” Crean said after the game. “Stan is strong enough to deal with that forearm push-off that he uses. Stan did a pretty good job of trying to keep him in front of him the whole way. Stan’s a tough guy. Last seven games, he’s got our highest plus-minus. He’s been moving up the ladder for us and we’re very confident in him moving forward.”
If Crean trust Robinson’s defensive this much going forward, it might lighten the load for Will Sheehey on that side of the ball, leaving him to focus more on scoring and being an on-court coach instead of marking the opposing team’s best player.
As the above supercut of Robinson on both sides of the ball shows, his jumper and free throw shooting have a ways to go. But Robinson’s ability to use his bounce to get into the lane off the perimeter — though not always successful on Tuesday — gives Indiana another creator on offense who can break down the defense and either get to the line or dish to an open teammate.
If Robinson continues to gain favor with Crean and the staff, it’s also possible he could supplant either Troy Williams or Jeremy Hollowell in the starting lineup at some point in the Big Ten season. Either way, he seems poised to be a solid rotation player in the new year.