After Rhode Island’s 81-56 win over Dayton on Friday clinched the Atlantic 10 regular season championship for the program – its first ever outright title – A-10 analyst and Yurview contributor Chris DiSano chatted with Stanford Robinson.
The Landover, Maryland native is averaging 9.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2 assists per game for the program, but that tells only half the story. The versatile 6-4 Robinson is often hailed by coach Dan Hurley as URI’s MVP this season, adjusting game-to-game to do whatever is required and – according to DiSano – a front runner for A-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Here’s what the senior had to say:
Chris DiSano: You and your teammates just made history, capturing the 2018 A-10 regular season title. There’s a lot of ball to be played yet, but what are your thoughts as you reflect on this milestone and the season-to-date?
Stanford Robinson: It feels great. Thank the Lord. Last year we won the A-10 Tournament with our backs against the wall. Last year, we were a good team but I don’t feel like we exceeded expectations. This year, everyone expected us to be good and we have been mature about it and even exceeded what many believed. And we’re not done yet. It always feels great to be a champion and this feeling is amazing… sometimes you’re just lost for words.
CD: You transferred here from Indiana, met up with these guys and are enjoying a great run. How have you bonded with your teammates?
SR: What’s crazy is that each senior I’ve crossed paths with at some point when I was younger. I’ve known E.C. [Matthews] since we were 16 and one day he asked me “Hey, what if one day we went to school together?” He was just saying it then… and it’s crazy we’ve ended up together. Andre [Berry], we crossed paths at the Hoop Group Tournament. Jarvis [Garrett], we met up during AAU. I played against Jared’s [Terrell] team. So it’s unbelievable to cross paths with people when you’re younger, then all end up in the same place making history together.
CD: You carry and demonstrate tremendous pride on defense. What are your thoughts about the season you’re having on that side of the ball?
SR: I think it’s been growing up, playing against older people and getting the mentality that I’m not going to let my man score. That’s the one on one battle. But then, it’s paying attention and grasping defensive concepts like cutting the court in half, weak side, and more. So you put all that together with the God-given talent that I have and you feel like you’re creating a masterpiece.
CD: Let’s drill down deeper. One particular challenge you’ve answered is frequently being asked to check guys you’re giving up 4-5″ against. What’s your approach?
SR: I have to thank coach Tom Crean at Indiana as well [under whom Robinson played]. My sophomore year he played me at the four-spot some as well. I was learning then that tall players don’t like you to get low on them. They don’t like to be bumped at the knees and things like that, so staying low is my approach to it.
CD: I spoke with E.C. a couple weeks back and asked him a similar question, so I’ll serve it up now for you… in what specific area, if any, do you feel you’ve grown the most here at URI?
SR: I don’t think it’s a specific area, but more about developing an understanding of who I am and how to use my talent to work for this team. Coach Hurley definitely instilled in me “how to be you”, and be great.
CD: Your versatility allows you to adapt frequently and do what’s asked, whether scoring, facilitating, hitting the glass, taking charges, etc. When did embracing the role of chameleon click for you?
SR: I’m a team guy first so I’ve always had that mentality, so it was keeping confidence. Coach Hurley tells me every day that I’m a rare player, and not a lot of people do the things I do because these days everybody just wants to score. I think it clicked as the season went on last year, we reached the NCAA Tournament, and I saw how it turned around for me and us. It’s good karma. Doing the little things brings you good karma on the offensive end — so shout-out to Coach Hurley.
CD: What are your thoughts on the campus environment and support shown the team since you’ve arrived… and this year in particular?
SR: One thing about this campus and the fan base is they’re supportive whether you’re trash or 2018 Champions, they’re going to love you and treat you the same way. Knowing that you have that support system behind you, you want to be great for yourself and them. They’ve treated us the same way since day one.
CD: Coach Hurley has often held you out publicly as the MVP of the team this season. What does that mean to you?
SR: It means he has your back and he’s here for you. It would be easy to leave me out of it and pump JT and EC who are two tremendous players. A lot of people who do what I do don’t really get credit for that, so for him to see that and push it out there nationally… it makes you feel so valuable, more than even you thought you would be.
CD: What would being named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year mean to you?
SR: It was definitely a goal this year when I found out I’d be starting. I wanted the 6thMan of the Year Award but, as a starter, the Defensive POY would be amazing. If I could get that, hopefully it would put me in line to be considered for National Defensive POY and help my career at the end of the day.
CD: The focus now is Saint Joseph’s and then Davidson, but if we look forward for just a moment… the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship is in Washington, D.C., close to where you grew up. You’ll be the hunted there. What are your thoughts?
SR: Me and Jeff [Dowtin] talk about it all the time. This gives us motivation because we’re back home and you gotta perform back home. You gotta perform back home (laughs). This is a test. As everybody can see we’re ranked in the country nationally and everyone’s talking about us. We’re going to be hunted in the NCAAs too. We’re not the underdogs anymore. It will be nice to see how we respond. Especially after coming off this regular season championship. Will we sit back or keep pushing? It’s a test and will help us a lot.
CD: Okay, back to the present… You’ve got senior night next on Tuesday, the last time you’ll play before the Ryan Center crowd. How are you feeling about that evening?
SR: It will be a special night. I don’t know if it will hit me right then and there because of my history of having a couple of moves. It won’t hit me until it’s all over. But it will be special. My parents will come, a couple cousins, friends, whoever calls and makes it here. Whoever comes… they can show up [laughs].