Robinson always stands tall among Mount players
Even though he’s only five-foot-five, Mount St. Mary’s guard Junior Robinson is always the tallest and most important Mountaineer on the court. Last Saturday, playing before a near-sellout crowd in Emmitsburg, Maryland, Robinson and company had an awful start to their Northeast Conference game against St. Francis of Loretto, Pennsylvania.
St. Francis took a 9-0 lead, and Robinson hadn’t attempted a shot. When the Red Flash lead went to 13-2, Robinson finally began to seek the shots his faltering team so badly needed.
When Robinson began strafing the Red Flash, he didn’t stop for the remainder of the first half.
With Robinson’s 20 first-half points, the Mountaineers filed off to the locker room with a 32-30 lead.
The two teams were tied for second place in the 10-school league. Both had 7-4 conference records, but trailed first-place Wagner (9-2 record) by two games.
Robinson was abnormally quiet throughout all of the second half. He attempted only three shots and relinquished his point guard duties to another player. Somehow the Mountaineers survived without Robinson’s normally bountiful scoring, winning with free throws in the last two minutes, 59-56, to now occupy second place all alone.
The Northeast Conference sends only its tournament champion to the NCAA tournament. There’s no centralized site for its tournament games. The higher seeded team in any matchup gets the home game.
Last year, The Mount wasn’t the regular season winner and had to go on the road at times in the conference tournament. The Mountaineers prevailed and had the Northeast Conference spot in the NCAA tournament.
Invariably, the conference champion receives only a No. 16 or No. 15 seed in the NCAA event.
And, just as invariably, the Northeast Conference representative is gone after a first-round loss.
The Mount has a comfortable facility that can seat a little over 3,500 often-zesty fans who give freely of their affection for the home team. Because of its smallish gym, the Mount always schedules much more nationally known teams on the road. Trying to make financial ends meet, the Mountaineers played at Marquette, at Notre Dame, at Georgetown and at Pittsburgh before Christmas, predictably losing all four games.
Now 14-11 after tripping the Red Flash, Mount St. Mary’s has no chance of winning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. It has to plow through another Northeast tournament to qualify.
With the indefatigable Robinson, Mount St. Mary’s has a realistic chance of returning to the NCAA tournament. On Saturday against St. Francis, he played all 40 minutes.
There are only three more home games for the Mountaineers. The last one comes on Feb. 24 when first-place Wagner comes to Emmitsburg. Robinson will be there with his energy and his three-point accuracy.
It could be the final home game for the diminutive senior. Or it could be a prelude to another Northeast tournament title if the Mountaineers can sail through to another NCAA berth.