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Phone Call Away from the NBA: An Interview With Russell Robinson

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Hello, all! First, I suppose it would be prudent of me to offer an introduction. I'm fetch9, as you can clearly see, and perhaps you've seen me making appearances in the comments section. As an added bonus, I have had the pleasure of actually attending the same school as Scott Schroeder. That is one of the top 3 or 4 lines of my resume as well.

In my spare time I like to blog about college hockey, the Minnesota Twins, college basketball, and, if I may offer a shameless plug, the Olympics. [Editor's Note: Seriously, check it out.]

For my first post here at RU, I had the tremendous opportunity to ask former Kansas great and 2008 National Champion (and of course, a current Maine Red Claw) Russell Robinson some questions about his time in college, his game, and, of course, the D League.

Me: First of all Russ, I just want to ask why you ultimately decided on Kansas, seeing as you're from New York.

Russell Robinson: It came down to Kansas, Kentucky, UConn and Georgia Tech so I basically relied on the best visit to make my decision. UConn and Georgia Tech were both great, but my Kansas visit was special. I went to the MU vs. KU football game. KU won, and the students rushed the field, took down both goal posts and I thought to myself 'If they're this excited about the football game then basketball games must be crazy.' Every time Coach Self came on a recruiting visit my gut told me KU is where I needed to be if I wanted to win big.

Of course anytime you go from New York to anywhere there is going to be an adjustment. The midwest was really welcoming to me, which made the transition a lot easier.

Me: How did you change as a player from your Freshman year to when you left Kansas?

Robinson: My Freshman year I was definitely in a "New York state of mind." The me against the world attitude didn't go over too well with Coach Self. It was great at first and then went downhill, and I thought I could control it by myself. Coach Self always told me I was stubborn. I have to admit I was very stubborn my Freshman year.

I learned quickly that if I wanted to be successful at KU I needed a good supporting cast. My cast consisted of parents, and close family, and those people helped me get through tough times. I would attribute my success at KU to getting mentally tougher every year and being a good role model for the young Jayhawk fans.

Me: You were definitely known as a good perimeter defender. If you look at some of the great offensive players you guarded (i.e. Ty Lawson, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo) you really shut them down, and made it tough on them. Is defense something you especially focus on? Even more than offense?

Robinson: I've always taken pride in my defense. Growing up in the city, my defense is what separated me from the rest of the top players. Playing against a top rated guy is an opportunity to make a name for yourself, so the bigger the name the better I perform defensively.

Me: You weren't really known as a shooter in college, but your three point percentage has improved as a pro, even more impressive when considering the increased distance of the 3 point line. Is it that you've been putting more work into your shot, or some other reason?

Robinson: It's all confidence. Nothing has changed with my shot since high school. My legs are a lot fresher as a pro, so that helps.

Me: You were traded from Reno to Maine recently. How did you take the news that you were traded, and what has it been like adjusting to playing with your new teammates?

Robinson: I had talked to Coach [Jay] Humphries (Reno) about the situation. He assured me that he would do what was best for me now and in the future. It was hard for him to let me go because he was a big part of my development as a player. I took the news well. I'm big on gut feeling, and my gut told me that Maine is in a great situation.

I looked at it as an opportunity to get better as a professional. Being a guy like me (a journeyman) that is trying to make an NBA team, you have to be able to come in and perform. Guys like me can never really get too comfortable. Basketball is basketball so at the end of the day you have to make sure you have more points than your opponent.

Me: Why is the D League a better fit for you than Europe?

Robinson: My dream is to play in the NBA. I worked hard through AAU, high school and college to get my shot at the NBA. I want to give my best years towards making the NBA. I tried Europe for 2 months and it didn't go well. I played really well but my heart wanted to be in the NBA.

The D League is the fastest way to reach my goal. Being a phone call away from the NBA is very easy on me mentally. Plus in the D League I am able to sharpen my game and stay familiar with the terminology. The D League isn't a cakewalk so it constantly challenges me to get better. Another bonus is my family gets to follow my games so it helps keep me motivated.

Europe is great. I will eventually explore that option but right now the NBA is all I'm thinking about.

Me: You spent some time in the Summer with the Cavaliers. How do you think you improved during that time?

Robinson: Just being around guys like Mo Williams, LeBron and Shaq for two months you pick up a lot. I was able to see up close how those guys prepare each day. It really reassured me that I was on the right path from a preparation and work ethic standpoint. My overall confidence got better from being there which made it a lot easier to make shots.

Me: One of your assistants is Randy Livingston, who has played in the NBA, Europe and the D League. What types of things have you learned from him both on the court but also in terms of how to impress NBA teams?

Robinson: Randy is a great guy. He's lucky he retired before I got to the D League. He knows the game inside and out so whenever he sees something out there he points it out. It's all small stuff like how to guard a certain player or what to look at in the pick and roll. I really respect him as a player and a coach so whatever he say is golden.

Me: Being a huge Kansas fan, I could go on all day, but I'll end with this: How challenging is it waiting for your shot to make the NBA?

Robinson: One simple phrase answers this question for me: Godspeed.

I'd like to thank Russell Robinson for taking the time to answer these questions, and giving a Jayhawk fan a huge thrill.