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When Stanley Robinson returned to school this fall, he did it with flags aflutter. The senior forward drove from his Birmingham home all the way to Storrs with UConn banners affixed to each side of his navy-blue Crown Victoria, as if he were a proud tailgater on a 1,100-mile road trip. "I was telling my wife," says coach Jim Calhoun, "there's almost a cuteness to a 21-year-old unabashedly in love with his school."
The 6'9", 220-pound senior, affectionately known as Sticks, has been celebrated for his jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism, but at Storrs it was immaturity—not gravity—that held him down. He averaged 10.4 points a game as a sophomore, but with two children and a history of missed classes, Calhoun told him to take a leave of absence from school for the first semester to address his personal issues. Calhoun helped him find a $700-a-week job sorting scrap metal in nearby Willimantic.
Robinson rejoined the team in mid-December as a walk-on, and though he struggled early, he found his game in March. In the Huskies' epic six-overtime loss to Syracuse in the Big East tournament, he had 28 points and 14 boards, and during UConn's run to the Final Four in the NCAAs he averaged 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds, a substantial jump over his regular-season averages of 8.5 and 5.9.
Now frontcourt stars Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien are gone, and the Huskies should run more this season. In Kemba Walker, a 6'1" blur, and Jerome Dyson they have one of the nation's top backcourts, and set to join the team in December is Ater Majok, a 6'10" Sudanese center with a 7'7" wingspan whose athleticism has already drawn attention from NBA scouts.
Robinson should thrive in a running game, and his mission is clear: acquire another banner. Not for his car, but to hang from the Gampel Pavilion rafters.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
Jim Calhoun (24th season)