The up-and-down career of Florida sophomore forward Devin Robinson continues to take different turns.
The 6-foot-8 Robinson lost his starting job to Justin Leon when SEC play began, and the Chesterfield, Va., native has struggled of late, going 1 of 10 shooting off the bench over his last two games.
But Robinson could get another chance to start Saturday against No. 9 West Virginia, with Leon doubtful for the game with a head injury.
When asked how Robinson has embraced his bench role, Florida coach Mike White said. “All guys want to start. All guys want to play 35 minutes. Even when I give Dorian (Finney-Smith) 35 minutes, he wants 40. It’s just the nature of being human.
“I think Devin, I’m not sure that he’s accepting of it. Has he had a good attitude? Yeah, he’s had a good attitude. He’s a really good guy. I don’t necessarily want guys to be overly accepting of their roles. I want guys competing. I want Devin today to show me why I should play him 30 minutes. That doesn’t just go for Devin. That goes for our entire roster. But he’s had a good attitude. He’s worked. This is going to be a very physical game, so he’s going to have to play with more physicality to be effective in this game.”
Robinson looked terrific off the bench in UF’s SEC opener against Georgia, scoring 13 points in the first half before leaving the game with a chest injury that landed him in the hospital. At 195 pounds, Robinson has gotten stronger, but perhaps still not strong enough to deal with the weekly grind of SEC play. Robinson has made a concerted effort to crash the boards more, averaging 6.1 rebounds per game after averaging 2.8 rebounds last season. NBA scouts are still high on Robinson’s leaping ability and skills, and several asked questions about him before the start of Tuesday night’s game against Vanderbilt.
Robinson has settled for 3-pointers (60 attempts, 30 percent from 3-point range) rather than driving to the basket at times, another aspect of his offensive game that needs to develop. But whether starting or coming off the bench, Robinson will need to answer the bell for the Gators to have a shot to knock off the ninth-ranked team in the country.
— Florida center John Egbunu was asked about his foul trouble on Friday. Egbunu is averaging 3.3 fouls at home and 4.3 fouls on the road. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound center has fouled out of four games this season, and the Gators are 0-4 when Egbunu fouls out. “I’ve just got to do a better job showing officials my hands, keeping my hands up,” Egbunu said. “You know just continuing to learn, pick and choose when I go and contest shots and when I just wall off and things like that.” Added White: “Since September. It’s been a tough issue with him all year. For whatever reason on the road, he’s had more foul trouble. That probably goes for opposition’s bigs as well. I feel like he’s better with making those decisions, playing more solid than he was a few months ago. But still, it’s still not gonna be night in and night out he’s playing perfectly with those decisions. He’s still a young player at this level. But he’s gotta continue to grow and play smart. We need him on the floor. We need him to rebound. We need him to defend at a high level, but very intelligently by showing the official his hands and getting out of wrestling matches, with extending the arms and all those things, illegal screens, some of those tick-tack fouls that he picks up. We’d like for his fouls to be a bit more productive for us.”
— Freshman guard KeVaughn Allen got on an impressive flurry late against Vanderbilt, scoring 11 points on the final 32 seconds on three straight 3-pointers and a two-point basket. But it was too little, too late, as the Gators lost 60-59. Allen ended up logging 30 minutes, but sat some stretches during the second half because White had point guard Chris Chiozza and Kasey Hill both in the game at the same time to get stops on defense. “KeVaughn is still of course a freshman and he’s learning,” White said. “But at times he’s been a really good defender for us. But when he’s really defending and he’s being really aggressive offensively and that shot’s falling a little bit and he’s in a good flow, it’s hard to take him out of the game, period. He’s as good as we have. He’s making a name for himself, he’s having a very good freshman year. Over time, he’s going to be more and more consistent to the point where he’s going to log a lot of minutes here. That’s my belief. So I think it’s going to be less balancing offense and defense because I think at times he’s really good defensively. Sometimes, it’s a fatigue thing. Sometimes, you want to keep him fresh and depends on time and score and where we’re at, foul trouble – although he’s been better with fouling as of late. But he needs to have a good game for us tomorrow.”