Robinson started his third straight game and was supposed to be a focal point with Florida’s top two scorers, Dorian Finney-Smith (suspension) and Michael Frazier (high ankle sprain), out against Vanderbilt.
The coaching staff’s frustrations with Robinson were obvious early in the game. Billy Donovan called a timeout and subbed him out of the game just two minutes into it. After checking back in a few minutes later, Robinson was pulled after only two and a half minutes later. He excited at the 11:16 mark in the first half and wouldn’t return for the remainder of the half.
Even at the start of the second half, Chris Chiozza started instead of Robinson, who didn’t get back into the game until the 14:56 mark in the second half.
“My focus wasn’t right,” Devin Robinson said. I was focused on the right thing and didn’t come out with the energy I was supposed to. I made some mistakes, wasn’t listening. It was little stuff and he was teaching me a lesson.”
The lesson worked. Even while the team was working out at halftime, assistant coach John Pelphrey spent multiple minutes talking to Robinson, telling him to forget what happened and that he needed to respond.
And the freshman did. After just two points in six minutes in the first half, Robinson had 10 points and six rebounds during 15 minutes of action in the second half.
“It was hard at first,” Robinson said. “He was tough with me. He said a couple words that probably hurt my feelings, but I didn’t put my head down. I just went out there and took it as a challenge. He was challenging me, and it worked out well.”
The challenge from Donovan was about consistency. He has seen what Robinson can do what he plays aggressive and attacks, but when he is passive and doesn’t play as the aggressor, he struggles to make an impact and even hurts the team.
“I challenged him and his focus,” Donovan said. “It’s the freshman part of it. If you take the last three games, he’s phenomenal against Ole Miss, really struggles against A&M, struggles in the first half (on Wednesday) then comes back in the second half and plays great. As a coach, that’s the hardest thing. Devin needs to grow in that area as a player when it comes to being a consistent guy, a consistent player where you know what you’re getting from him.”
Florida trailed by one point when Kasey Hill attacked the rim and found a cutting Robinson for the go-ahead dunk with 2.1 seconds remaining, helping Florida to its 50-47 win over Vanderbilt. Robinson was going to the rim for an offensive rebound but ended up being in the perfect spot.
“Right place, right time,” he said with a grin.
FRAZIER’S RETURN UNCERTAIN: Donovan remains uncertain when Frazier will return to action. The junior was out of a boot on Wednesday night, the first game he has attended without the boot on since the injury occurred.
Donovan cautioned that he isn’t completely sure, but he does not expect Frazier to return before March. Even when he is ready to return, Donovan isn’t sure what physical shape he’ll be in.
Because Michael has been a phenomenal shooter, he has been our leading scorer, I think you can’t underestimate that this guy is going to go three weeks without being able to practice or shoot a basketball. To throw him back and expect him to be where he was before he got hurt, I think it would be really difficult to put that on him. I don’t have a high expectation for him when he comes back because he hasn’t practiced since the Kentucky game. He hasn’t shot. All he’s trying to do is get himself healthy.