Robinson Making A Move

Jamie Dixon has been hesitant to play many freshmen during his tenure as the Pitt men's basketball coach, but Nasir Robinson's recent play is forcing Dixon to give him more minutes.

Nasir Robinson, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound first-year player from Chester, Pa. High School, has played in 16 of 19 games for No. 3 Pittsburgh (18-1 overall, 6-1 in the Big East). However, his total playing time has dwindled since Conference play began earlier this month.

But that could change beginning with the Panthers game against Villanova Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.

"He's a guy who brings energy, and he maybe should have played some more in other games,'' Dixon said. "He's played pretty well. He's good against a zone, as I've said before, because he has an ability to catch the ball. He's versatile and has a good understanding of the game and what we're trying to do.

"He plays with a lot of passion. He's getting better as a shooter, but that's not what we need from him right now. He's working hard. His body's changed since he's been here. He's lost about 15 pounds, and he's a great kid. He's worked very hard, and I know the guys from Chester are proud of him.''

Robinson has played both forward spots for Pitt, but appears to be settling into the four position and did pretty well there while senior Tyrell Biggs was limited due to a knee injury at West Virginia Sunday. Robinson hit both shots, including a driving lay-up that began in the backcourt, and pulled down two rebounds in seven minutes. He also had one basket, a rebound and an assist in five minutes against Syracuse.

"It's OK, because I just come out and do what I need to do for the team,'' Robinson said. "I don't try to do anything extra, maybe something I can't really do, and I try to stick with the rhythm of the game.''

While some freshmen might be a little intimidated, Robinson is used to playing in front of large crowds from his time at Chester.

"We had some big crowds at Chester, so that helped me when I came here,'' Robinson said. "I can go out and not be nervous and be comfortable. Some people might not like to play in that atmosphere, but I'm used to it. And I'm very comfortable with it.

"(And) it's definitely going to be packed (against Villanova), a real nice crowd, so we just have to come out like we do in every other game and we'll be all right. We just need to play our game, and we'll come out with a win.''

Even though Robinson isn't as big as some power forwards in the Big East, he has been picking up as much as possible from seniors Sam Young and Biggs.

"In practice, I learn a lot from Sam,'' Robinson said. "He tells me what I need to do in certain situations and where to go on certain plays. I also watch what he does during a game. I've been playing mostly at the four. There are guys who are a little bit taller, but I still do all right with rebounding.

"I try to beat them with my quickness and outsmart them a little bit. ... I'm working on driving and passing off to DeJuan inside or Tyrell. (And) I match up with Tyrell every day in practice. He's strong and smart, so I learn a lot from him, too. So, it's great for me to have those two guys around this year.''

And with the way Robinson is progressing, the student eventually will become the teacher.

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