NCAA Tournament: Time Is Now For Pittsburgh Basketball's James Robinson

By Gregory Philson

The Pittsburgh Panthers know what to expect from senior guard Lamar Patterson and senior forward Talib Zanna, but if coach Jamie Dixon‘s team has any shot of making a surprising run in the 2014 NCAA tournament, someone else will need to pick up his game.

Many of considered sophomore guard James Robinson a major disappointment this season for Pittsburgh after not improving much from his freshman year. Robinson increased his scoring by only two points per game while getting more playing time in a much more important role. Robinson also did not shot well during the season and averaged just 3.9 assists per game in an offense that promotes passing.

Robinson does have the talent to stand out which was evident when he scored 19 points against North Carolina in the ACC tournament. However, he could not validate that performance the next day against Virginia and scored just seven points. That has been a season-long problem for Robinson and if the Panthers are to beat Colorado and possibly pull off some upsets in the tournament, he will need to be more consistent.

Only once the entire season did Robinson have back-to-back games of at least 10 points. He also had four games where he scored no more than two points. This kind of inconsistency is a major problem for a player who seems to be able to get by many players off the dribble and anticipate passes on defense well enough to start fast breaks.

Robinson does not need to be the leading scorer for Pittsburgh by any means, but he needs to be a player that puts up points, assists and steals in bunches. He has the speed and quickness to be a streaky player that can turn a deficit into a five-point lead in the blink of an eye.

If Pittsburgh makes a run in the tournament, it would not be surprising to see Robinson have crooked numbers filling up the box score.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on GoogleRead more here.

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