Nov. 7, 2000
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — –
You’ve started dinner at your house, and about halfway through, you notice you forgot the rice and a few other things. So you dash off to the store.
Somehow in your haste, your bag gets mixed up with somebody else’s. So you get home with two cans of beets, some sliced pineapple and walnut slices to go with your roast beef dinner. Too late. You make do.
In a strange sort of way, that’s what Florida State basketball coach Steve Robinson has had to do with his FSU basketball team over the past three seasons.
True, some of his difficulties have stemmed from the fact that he and his former staff did not do a very good job of getting out of the house and taking advantage of the specials at the various stores, so to speak. That’s one reason why that staff is now his former staff.
But some of those woes can’t be traced to him. There were some serious off-the-court issues to deal with, issues that took time, will and effort. If he was caught a little short in other areas, maybe that’s an acceptable growing pain in light of the future of his program. Maybe.
We’ll have to see what that future brings.
It was interesting the other night, when Robinson started talking about his basketball team after the Garnet and Gold Game, that he couldn’t help but reveal his heart.
The back-and-forth game itself was interesting mostly for the way his team, for the first time in recent memory, took the ball to the basket almost every time down the floor. That was the biggest change.
It wasn’t just an assortment of guys standing around the perimeter, wistfully dreaming of open jump shots and finding a center who could actually compete with the league’s giants.
So as he began to talk, Robinson’s enthusiasm — his fire — came through. Once somebody asked him if this was more his kind of team, his response came so quickly that it almost sounded like it was a relief to answer.
“Yes. No question in my mind,” Robinson said. “An unselfish team that will play hard. Balanced. I’ll probably coach better with a group like that than a very one-dimensional group.”
Interesting. His team is picked to finish somewhere among the plankton along the ocean floor of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Robinson is jacked up. Is that just preseason talk or is it the first sign that he’s doing his own shopping from here on out?
Over the past three seasons, one of the things that didn’t add up was a demanding coach like Robinson settling for such crappy defense. It didn’t take much negotiating to find an open shot anywhere you wanted it. That’d be like run-at-all-cost Woody Hayes allowing his quarterback to throw a pass whenever he felt like it.
As stubborn as Robinson may be — he’s among the ACC leaders in that category — maybe he knew that those players simply were never going to play the game the way he preferred.
Maybe the way that he hauled Corey Louis out of his final FSU game in a pulse-quickening overtime after a couple of ill-advised shots was a signpost. We saw it. His teams never did.
So now he’s cleared the deck. He has his players and nobody else’s. For a team that seems to be missing a lot of ingredients, he seems awfully eager to get into the kitchen.
By JOHN NOGOWSKI