Staying out of the limelight isn’t a problem when Mardy Collins is your teammate.
This season countless NBA representatives have sauntered through the Liacouras Center’s doors to scout Collins. The all-America candidate has garnered all of the scouts’ focus.
With Collins’ game-winning shots and highlight-reel dunks, Antywane Robinson has primarily remained in the shadows during his four-year career at Temple.
Quiet by nature, Robinson often shies away from the media blitz and the bright lights. In terms of attention, the senior has taken a backseat to Collins, who is on a fast track to becoming a first-round draft choice.
That’s not to say that Robinson hasn’t done his part for the Owls. After all, he is the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder this season. But the 6-foot-8-inch forward said he enjoys doing his job without a lot of hype.
“It’s never been about being in someone else’s shadows. Mardy and I, we both came here with the same opportunities and I think we both – in our own right – have made the most of them,” Robinson said. “Mardy just progressed a little faster than I did.”
A leading candidate for the Atlantic Ten Conference Most Improved Player award, Robinson said he has grown as a player with Collins’ help. When the two are on the court together, Robinson said he doesn’t look at Collins as a future NBA player. Collins is “my friend and just a tremendous player,” Robinson said.
“I wouldn’t trade Mardy for another guard out there,” he added.
Robinson performs at a higher level when the focus isn’t entirely on him, Collins said.
“He’s definitely better off because of it,” Collins said. “He’s a quiet guy, someone who doesn’t want any of that unnecessary attention. So it doesn’t bother him like that. He can go out and do his thing.”
During an early-season stretch when the Owls had lost four of five games, coach John Chaney praised Robinson and only Robinson. The 74-year-old coach verbally slammed his other players, but he credited Robinson with maintaining consistency in his shooting.
Chaney did so again following last week’s win against Saint Joseph’s.
“He’s supposed to knock down shots,” Chaney said. “He’s supposed to get 15 to 20 shots a game, because he can shoot. All shooters on any team … get shots. That’s the way the game is played.
“You always look for better players to shoot. When he doesn’t get those [shots], I want to kill Mark [Tyndale] and Mardy. What I do is simple: I put Mark someplace, Dustin [Salisbery] another and Mardy someplace else. ‘Get the ball to Antywane’ is what I say.”
Robinson has had an up-and-down season. In starting each of the Owls’ 24 games, Robinson averages 12.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He leads the team in blocked shots and has the fewest turnovers of any Temple starter.
Just last week he played the role of hero with an 18-point performance against St. Joe’s. Robinson followed up that game with a no-point, 0-for-5 outing at Saint Louis last weekend. He had scored at least 10 points in eight of his last nine starts.
Similar to Robinson, the Owls have been rocky. At 14-10 overall and seventh place in the A-10, their NCAA Tournament hopes are slipping fast.
Throughout his career, though, Robinson has taken the good with the bad. He came to Temple in search of a winning tradition, but he didn’t have to come to Philadelphia for that.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Robinson attended Oak Hill Academy, a prep school widely known for grooming future college and pro standouts. In his last year at Oak Hill, Robinson’s teammates included Carmelo Anthony, of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, and Justin Gray, a senior at Wake Forest.
In his final year at Temple, Robinson isn’t coming off the bench like he did at Oak Hill, but he hit a snag in a game last month at La Salle.
With less than 30 seconds to play and the Owls trailing 60-56, Robinson tossed up a three-pointer from the left side of the arc. The shot went down and cut the Owls’ deficit to one point. But the shot only momentarily counted. Teammate Wayne Marshall was whistled for a moving pick. The shot was overturned and the Owls eventually lost, 62-56.
All of Robinson’s sore memories of postseason play gone awry will be forgotten, he said, if the Owls can advance to next month’s NCAA Tournament.
“In the end, as long as you get the W, you have to be happy,” Robinson said. “In my senior year, I wanted to be undefeated but we’re over .500.
“We’re playing well right now, so I couldn’t really ask for much more, unless we made the [NCAA] Tournament. Then I’d be happy.”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.