By Craig Meyer/DFP Staff
Seemingly, from the moment he stepped foot on the Boston University campus, things have not exactly gone according to plan for Travis Robinson.
With the two separate broken nose injuries restricting the kind of playing time and chance for development that fellow freshmen D.J. Irving and Dom Morris enjoyed, Robinson, once the highest-rated player in a banner seven-player 2010 recruiting class, seemed to be behind the proverbial curve.
But even in a brief career where so many breaks and opportunities have gone the wrong way, on Wednesday night against the University of Delaware, everything – quite literally – went right for Robinson.
Capitalizing on an increase in playing time he has gotten the past several games, the sophomore guard went off for a career-high 16 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting performance from the field in the Terriers’ 73-67 win over the Blue Hens.
“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Robinson said with a grin after the game. “I’ve been working on my jump shot all summer and coming into the season, we knew they were going to focus a lot on DP [senior guard Darryl Partin], so it was going to leave a lot of people open. I guess I just had the hot hand.”
Robinson’s perfect day from the field, which included a 4-for-4 mark from beyond 3-point range, has, for now, served as a step in the right direction for a player laden with breakout potential, one who is finally seeing things fall into place in his second collegiate season.
Rated as an 89 (out of 100) by ESPN.com’s recruiting service coming out of Friends’ Central High School outside Philadelphia, Robinson was kept largely to the sideline his freshman season, averaging 1.1 points and 1.2 rebounds per game even as other freshmen and newcomers excelled.
With a clean (and welcome) bill of health and a new offensive system under new head coach Joe Jones, Robinson’s role was expected to expand, especially with the graduation of star forward John Holland.
The adjustments and heightened responsibility were tough for Robinson at first, but much like his teammates, he responded to the changes he faced.
“We changed the style of play somewhat early on and everyone was trying to feel their way,” Jones said. “I think Travis was struggling to kind of find himself and it wasn’t his fault [because] he was trying to get a feel for what we wanted from him.
“Over time, he’s just kept doing the right things, listening to the things that we’re asking the guys to do and trying to do those things.”
After playing sparingly in the Terriers’ first three games of the season, Robinson was inserted in the starting lineup against Cleveland State University Nov. 26 and has been there since, averaging 19 minutes and five points per game in BU’s three games leading up to the Delaware matchup.
If those three games were a push in the right direction for Robinson, Wednesday’s game was nothing short of his coming out party from the opening tip.
Just five minutes into the game, Robinson’s day got started with two converted 3-pointers, the latter of which gave BU a 15-14 lead with 14:56 remaining in the first half.
Even with the pair of 3-pointers, though, the best was yet to come.
Coming out of a timeout, Robinson held the ball at the top of the key and quickly blew past a Delaware defender to get into the lane, where he rose and sent the crowd of 553 at Case Gymnasium to its feet as he threw down an electrifying two-handed slam.
For spectators and teammates alike, it was a seminal moment, albeit not an entirely unexpected one.
“It wasn’t a surprise at all, he used to do that all the time in high school,” said sophomore point guard D.J. Irving. “He shows it here and there, he just has the confidence now to show his talent.”
After scoring the Terriers’ first five points of the second half, Robinson got the ball and an open look beyond the arc with his team down two points and with under seven minutes remaining in the game.
Without hesitation, Robinson pulled up and buried the shot, giving BU the lead for good at 59-58 with 6:34 left and capping off a day that, aside from five fouls, was near flawless.
“Give him credit – the kid stepped up and that’s what the game of college basketball is about, guys stepping up and making big plays,” said Delaware head coach Monté Ross. “He made all the big plays tonight, he was perfect.”
For a player who has struggled to stay healthy and has felt the physical and mental effects of said injuries (one need not look further than the protective mask Robinson still wears), Robinson’s breakout performance was a relief for coaches and teammates.
“I’m so proud and happy for him – he’s a guy that you pull for, you pull for a kid like him,” Jones said.
With his career day now behind him, Robinson will look to build on the promise he and his perfect shooting night displayed at Case Gym as the Terriers will head four miles down the Green Line to take on Boston College Saturday.
Even with such a stellar performance fresh in his memory, Robinson, very much so in line with the team’s “tapping the stone” attitude from former head coach Patrick Chambers, doesn’t see things changing going forward – that is, except for trying to extend the Terriers’ three-game win streak.
“It will definitely help my confidence, but nothing changes,” Robinson said. “It’s still the same game-plan -- just doing whatever it takes for us to be successful.”