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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Obama’s brother-in-law in search of more Pac-10 wins

    Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson reacts during a 62-58 win over USC in Corvallis, Ore., on Jan. 4. Robinson, the brother-in-law to President-elect Barack Obama, and the Beavers snapped their 23-game Pac-10 losing skid with the win over the Trojans.
    Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson reacts during a 62-58 win over USC in Corvallis, Ore., on Jan. 4. Robinson, the brother-in-law to President-elect Barack Obama, and the Beavers snapped their 23-game Pac-10 losing skid with the win over the Trojans.

    Arizona vs. Oregon State

    Craig Robinson stepped in front of six media members in McKale Center on Friday while his team warmed up for practice behind him. After shaking everyone’s hands, he took his cell phone off his hip and tossed it to a team assistant.

    “”Knowing me, this thing will probably ring in the middle of this,”” the Oregon State men’s basketball head coach said.

    Being the brother-in-law of United States president-elect Barack Obama, who will be sworn into office in less than two weeks, Robinson has discovered what it’s like to be constantly sought after.

    “”Initially it was ridiculous because I really wasn’t used to it. But now I’m sort of used to it,”” Robinson said. “”And it’s been great from the stand point that these guys (the players) are getting some exposure that they normally wouldn’t get being a team that was 0-18 in the league last year. I’m excited for them, as well as the program.””

    The Beavers (6-7, 1-2 Pacific 10 Conference) – who take on Arizona (10-5, 1-2) in McKale Center Saturday afternoon at 2 – surely welcome a different form of national exposure after extending their losing streak from last year into this season, capping it at 23 games before beating USC in overtime.

    Robinson got a call from Obama after the USC game, as he does after every big OSU win. After all, “”I’m confident in knowing that his favorite basketball team is the Oregon State Beavers,”” Robinson said.

    But OSU couldn’t collect back-to-back wins; it was pounded by ASU, 69-38, in Tempe on Thursday night.

    “”What we’re trying to do is teach these guys how to win after winning a game, which they have never done before,”” Robinson said. “”Everything’s new for these guys.””

    It’s certainly new for Robinson as well. Since he was a standout player at Princeton -ÿhe was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year -ÿMichelle Robinson was always Craig Robinson’s sister.

    Oh, how the times change.

    “”This is just equal time. Now I get to be Michelle Obama’s brother,”” Robinson said with a smile. “”I know how it was the other way, so I like it this way.””

    But that doesn’t mean he’s fully adapted to the publicity yet. His players have helped break him in, though.

    “”Now these guys are starting to feel more comfortable where they’re laughing and pointing: ‘Oh, there’s your sister on the magazine again.’ We’re in airports all the time and you see my whole family posted on the magazine rack. It’s surreal. It just feels like somebody’s playing a joke on you. It really does.””

    Because of Robinson’s celebrity status, his team will certainly be noticed more this season, but his new status in the Pac-10 won’t make it difficult for UA interim head coach Russ Pennell to coach against, Pennell said.

    “”When you’ve been around basketball as long as the coaches on our staff, you just know what to do,”” Pennell said. “”In fact, the 1-3-1 trap that they run, I ran in high school and in college. I played that, and my dad ran that forever. You know the counters to all that stuff, and you just prepare your team accordingly.””

    What the Beavers have against the Wildcats, however, is that Robinson isn’t new to coaching altogether. He was a successful coach at Brown University before moving to Corvallis, Ore.

    “”I think what Craig Robinson’s doing is really good,”” said Pennell, who first met Robinson in the summer while recruiting. “”He’s coming in, bringing his style in. He’s trying to change the culture there.””

    For the Wildcats, beating Oregon by 15 points on Thursday was only half of what they wanted to accomplish this weekend.

    “”This is a two-part job,”” Pennell said. “”We got job one done, we’ve got job two to go. Honestly, I almost look at Oregon State as the second half. (Thursday) was the first half.

    “”We’ve got a big job, and just because they lost all those games in a row, and then last week beat a good USC team, they’re going to get better.””

    The fast-paced Wildcats will go up against a slower playing Beaver team that enjoys controlling the tempo.

    Whether it will be more difficult for Arizona to slow down or OSU to speed up will be determined, but Robinson has already noticed the Wildcats’ goals and aspirations.

    “”These guys are playing for something,”” Robinson said of Arizona. “”All the news that’s been going on around here, I think they’re trying to prove themselves. And everybody thinks they can prove themselves on us, so that’s what we’ve gotta get win to.””

    And 1

    Oregon State hasn’t beaten the Wildcats in McKale Center since January 1983. Robinson was at Princeton at the time, playing in his final season with the Tigers.

    “”Oh man, you just ruined my day,”” Robinson said to the reporter who enlightened him with the fact. “”It’s only 26 years ago. It reminds me of how old I am and how hard it is to win here. That’s really something.””

    Former UA head coach Lute Olson will be one of 10 honorees inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor during the conference tournament held in Los Angeles in March.

    “”Being a basketball fan and a player, you always looked at Lute Olson’s programs at being right there at the top every single year,”” Robinson said. “”This is my first time here (in McKale Center) and it sure is a treat to be able to be on the court that he coached on for such a long time. The rich tradition, the culture -ÿyou can just feel it when you walk in the door.””

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