Aaron Robbins is doing a lot of things to help the UPEI Panthers be successful.
He’s not leading the team in scoring, but contributing in many other ways.
“I try to be a defensive presence,” the fourth-year Panthers forward said before practice on Wednesday. “Rebound, block shots and just push the ball up the floor and make sure we get good shots.”
Cleaning up the glass is crucial for a team looking to run whenever possible.
“We’re really great when we push the ball,” Robbins said. “If we don’t get that rebound than the other team can come back and set up their defence.”
Robbins is third in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference in steals per game at 2.2, averages just under a block per game while playing about 24 minutes a night.
“He’s doing a great job defensively for us,” coach Tim Kendrick said.
“His anticipation is pretty good, but he’s also a good positional player,” he added when asked about Robbins’ steals totals. “A lot of times you’ll get a steal by being in the right position at the right time.”
Robbins, who grew up watching guys like Doug McKinney and Ryan Keliher, was part of a provincial championship team that went undefeated in his Grade 12 year at Charlottetown Rural.
“I knew I wanted to stay close to home and a lot of my friends were going to UPEI,” the 21-year-old said looking back. “It just seemed like the best place for me to go.”
The transition to the faster-paced AUS was tough, but by his second season Robbins felt more comfortable.
His steady progression has continued and this year he started opening night and has been a key contributor.
“I feel more comfortable about my game,” Robbins said.
Kendrick showing confidence in him that has allowed him to develop his game.
The coach said he has told Robbins to “play free of mind,” meaning if you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it. Pleased with Robbins play so far, the coaching staff sees more potential as the season progresses.
“As well as he is playing, I still think he’s still scratching the surface a little bit on the offensive end,” Kendrick said. “He’s not selfish enough.”
Kendrick said the big man is athletic and he’d like to see him finish a bit more when he gets near the rim.
“I like to get other people involved,” Robbins admitted. “It’d be nice to score too, but I really like to get other people going.”
Robbins is an arts student majoring in history who is expected to graduate this spring. He has not made up his mind what he will do next year, but Kendrick said the door is wide open if he wants to return for his final year of eligibility.
The coach said the quiet Robbins is a good student who brings a great attitude to the team.
“He has the respect of his teammates and I think when he does talk people listen.”
The Panthers play their first game of the second semester tonight when they host the Cape Breton Capers at 8 p.m.
“Every game is important, but you really have to win those four-point games,” Robbins said.
Meet Aaron Robbins
u Who – A fourth-year member of the UPEI Panthers men’s basketball team.
u Height, position – A six-foot-seven forward.
u Hometown – Stratford.
u Quote – “It’s definitely great, being from the Island and being a big part to the team.”
u Statistics -
GP Pts./G Reb/G A/G
8 5.1 4. 8 0.8
u Shooting – 51.5 per cent from the floor, 30 per cent from behind the arc and 62.5 per cent from the free-throw line.
When They Play
UPEI varsity schedule:
6 p.m. – Cape Breton at UPEI
7 p.m. – UPEI at UNB
7 p.m. – UPEI at Mount Allison
8 p.m. – Cape Breton at UPEI
6 p.m. – UPEI at Saint Mary’s
7 p.m. – UPEI at St. Thomas
8 p.m. – UPEI at Saint Mary’s
4 p.m. – UPEI at Mount Allison
Note - All games, except the women’s volleyball exhibition game, can be watched live at austv.ca