Duncan Robinson and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals Friday night. That forced last night’s Game 6.
In the aftermath of Robinson’s 26-point, six-rebound performance in the 111-108 win, NBC Sports writer Tim Layden, who happens to be a Williams College graduate, Tweeted out the following:
“Duncan Robinson had 26 points and 7 threes and somewhere guys from Colby and Middlebury are drinking hazy IPAs and saying, ‘I shut that guy down all night.’”
Looking back on Robinson’s only Williams season, what was pretty clear is that very few players actually shut him down.
“I’ve said it many times that he’s the most talented player that we’ve ever recruited,” then-Williams coach Mike Maker said in a statement announcing Robinson being named the NESCAC Rookie of the Year back in 2014. “He’s very deserving of his postseason honors.”
Robinson led the Ephs in minutes played with 1,110 (a Williams record), points scored (548), 3-pointers made (81 of 179), 3-point percentage (45.3), free-throw percentage (87.8 percent — 79 of 90), blocks (36) and steals (36). He also contributed 208 rebounds and 59 assists.
“Duncan’s performance and production on the court speaks volumes about his talent and the level of trust and confidence that his teammates and coaches have in him,” said Maker. “I believe that he is one of the premier players in the United States regardless of classification. It’s rare to have a star player who is so low maintenance and puts the team in front of himself.”
Robinson was also the D3Hoops.com National Rookie of the Year for the 2013-14 season.
That 2013-14 Williams team advanced to the NCAA Division III championship game. It finished with a 28-5 record, losing three times to arch-rival Amherst, dropping the season opener to Southern Vermont — in a game played at MCLA because the Ephs were hosting the NCAA Division III volleyball tournament, and losing to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the national championship game.
Robinson was No. 2 on this Williams team with a 17.1 point scoring average. He was one of five Ephs who scored in double figures. They were led by center Mike Mayer at 18.5 points per game and Taylor Epley’s 13.5 points per game, while Dan Wohl averaged 12.9 points per game and Hayden Rooke-Ley averaged 10.7 points per game.
When there are five, double-digit scorers on a team, one guy scoring in single figures won’t cost a game.
Robinson did not reach double figures in three games, scoring nine against RPI on Dec. 3, 2013, seven against Trinity on Jan. 10, 2014, and nine against Amherst on Jan. 22. The Ephs went 2-1 in those three games, losing only to the artists formerly known as the Lord Jeffs.
Actually, it would be fair to say that only Dave Hixon’s Amherst team actually shut Robinson down. The Eph freshman had nine points on 4-for-13 shooting from the floor and he was 0 for 5 from 3-point range. Mayer had 27 points and Wohl had 17 in an 82-70 loss at Chandler Gym. That is why Hixon is a Hall-of-Fame coach.
In the game against RPI, Epley shot 8 for 10 from the floor and 6 for 6 from 3-point range for 23 points, while Dan Aronowicz came off the bench to score 22 on 11-of-13 shooting in a 113-88 rout. Robinson was 4 for 7 from the floor, 1 for 2 from outside the arc. Much like the way he plays at Miami, Robinson knows when to defer to hot hands.
The same could be said in the 80-60 win over Trinity. Robinson was 3 of 8 from the floor, but four other Ephs scored in double figures. Epley led the way with 13, Mayer and Ryan Kilcullen had 13 each and Rooke-Ley had 11.
“You can’t shoot the ball if you don’t have the ball,” Miami’s Jimmy Butler said when asked about Robinson’s Friday performance, which included him going 7 for 13 from 3-point range. “I think he was getting lost in trying to get other people open. Then everybody’s going to react to him, probably moreso than they’re going to react to me. A three is worth more than a two. So as long as he’s coming to the ball, shooting the ball when he’s open, when he’s not open, that’s the Duncan Robinson we need.”
When Robinson was at Williams, he didn’t lead the team from outside the arc. Epley shot 193 treys, compared to 179 for Robinson. In fact, only four times in 32 games did he make more than four 3-point shots. He was 7 for 10 in a 69-64 win over Bowdoin, 6 for 12 in an 88-68 win over Hamilton, 5 for 10 in a 75-62 win over Castleton and 5 for 8 in an 83-68 win over Stevens.
“I understand that nothing is guaranteed,” Robinson said back on NBA Finals Media Day. “Throughout my career, there’s one thing I’ve learned is not to expect anything.
“I’m incredibly grateful to be in this situation, humbled by it in many ways.”
Oh, and about the Tim Layden Tweet, nobody at Colby could suggest that. In a 69-62 win in Williamstown, Robinson was 9 for 9 from the floor, 3 for 3 from 3-point range and 6 for 6 from the free throw line for 27 points. That is perfection.