Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Southern Utah head coach Nick Robinson directs his team against California during the first half on an NCAA college basketball game on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Steve Luhm: Despite SUU’s lost season, Robinson remains hopeful
First Published Feb 22 2014 05:10 pm • Last Updated Feb 22 2014 09:17 pm

Cedar City

Southern Utah’s Nick Robinson is 34, looks 24 and probably feels like 104.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

It happens when your team suffers through a season that puts dog-years on a basketball coach.

Southern Utah has now lost 24 straight after Saturday night’s 85-74 home loss to Eastern Washington.

The Thunderbirds scored an 85-78 win over little Arizona Christian in their opener but, over the next three months, won as often as the Jamaican bobsled team.

"It’s been a challenging season," says Robinson, a former assistant at LSU and Stanford who was hired at Southern Utah after the 2011-12 season.

"At this point, we’re taking it one day at a time. Our focus has been consistently improving as coaches and players. That’s helped our basketball team."

Significantly, Robinson’s boss understands the situation and remains firmly in his corner.

"We knew this was going to be a tough year," SUU athletic director Ken Beazer said. "… But he’s definitely running the kind of program we want. We told him we wanted long-term success. That comes with a core group of players being in the program awhile."

That’s especially true in the Big Sky Conference.


story continues below
story continues below

"We know there’s a pecking order in recruiting," Beazer said, "and the kids we get are going to need time to develop. So he’s stuck to the plan. ... It’s just going to take a little time."

Robinson’s first season was more successful.

Behind the play of holdovers Jackson Stevenett and Damon Heuir, the Thunderbirds finished 11-20 overall, 8-12 in the Big Sky and qualified for the conference tournament.

"We inherited a great group of seniors," Robinson said. "… With their departure, we lost leadership, we lost toughness and we lost two guys who — quite frankly — were pretty good and scored a lot of points."

Another problem?

Two players expected to be starters this season — Kyle Davis and Wade Collie — aren’t around.

Davis, who averaged 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds as a freshman, returned from an LDS Church mission and transferred to Utah State. Collie was arrested on drug charges a year ago and asked to leave the program.

As a result, Robinson’s second team at SUU is dominated by freshmen and sophomores, including top scorers Trey Kennedy and A.J. Hess.

"One of the biggest things with young guys is consistency," Robinson said. "Juniors and seniors are relatively consistent. ... But we’ve really struggled to have seven or eight guys on the same page on game day."

Like most young teams, the Thunderbirds have improved as the season progressed, even though their record doesn’t reflect it.

Among a handful of recent near-misses: a 65-59 loss at Weber State and a 54-52 heartbreaker to Montana State.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.