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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Steve Robinson’s transition to Arizona has been perfect

Nathanial Stenchever

During the pregame introductions the University of Arizona mascot Wilber flies the UA flag  on Saturday, Feb. 5 in McKale Center. The Wildcats would lead into the half 29-28.

This past summer, a former longtime assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, Steve Robinson, decided to part ways after Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams announced his retirement. Robinson had spent 18 years working in Chapel Hill under Williams, having tremendous success attending eight final fours and winning three national championships.

The decision Robinson had to make of leaving North Carolina and coming to Tucson, Arizona, was fairly easy for him, he says. Robinson and his wife adjusted to this new lifestyle within the first few days. 

“It’s been fantastic. My kids are back home and I always send them pictures of the mountains and the blue skies,” Robinson said. 

Over the Roy Williams era, North Carolina basketball was known to be a “track meet,” which is a quick pace offense that relies on getting the ball out in transition. 

Here at Arizona, head coach Tommy Lloyd emphasizes a similar style of play, taking advantage of his mobile bigs, prioritizing early offense rather than playing strictly within the half-court. When comparing the two types of the game, Robinson talked about the similarities and differences. 

“[At first,] there was a lot I had to learn. I now have to teach a little differently here [in Arizona]” Robinson said. 

Arizona’s roster consists of many international players. Acording to Robinson, this was an adjustment he had to make as he had not been around a program like Arizona’s in his coaching career. 

“Listening to the banter from the players on our team, they speak their own language sometimes and I just sit back and smile, man I’m learning a lot,” Robinson said.

Robinson discussed how he comes into practice with a smile on his face each and every day, cherishing the diverse opportunities that come with coaching here in Tucson rather than his other experiences. 

Unlike a typical assistant coach, Robinson started the season late, arriving in Tucson in September as he was unsure where his next coaching destination would take him. When asked about arriving late and developing a connection with his players, Robinson lets his experience do the talking. 

 “Well, I just try to coach. I try to be truthful to them and tell them about my experiences and background,” Robinson said. “I’ve been a part of three national championship teams, eight final fours, six Monday nights — I think that speaks for itself. I don’t think I have to come in and try to prove myself.” 

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Robinson also had tons of success in recruiting during his time in North Carolina. Before coming to Arizona, coach Lloyd had picked up many recruits as well through the international market while working as an assistant at Gonzaga University.

“Recruiting is recruiting. You gotta go out and find the guys that fit the way you wanna play, and then you just gotta work to get them excited about the program,” Robinson said. “However, with a new coach, many people sit back and watch to see if he can coach, how he treats his players and his style of play. I think what [Lloyd] has done in terms of our team success is truthful to what [Lloyd] initially said.”

Coach Robinson is confident Arizona basketball will get back to its historic old self.

Follow Aidan Alperstein on Twitter

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