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UNC Basketball: The man, the assistant behind Roy Williams

A look into one of UNC’s assistant coaches, Steve Robinson and his presence in UNC Basketball

Steve Arnette Robinson is considered one of top assistants in college basketball. “Coach Rob”, as he’s known by his players, has been an assistant coach at UNC since 2003. Many people have no idea who “the guy that sits next to Roy Williams” is, so we’d like to highlight some of the things that make him so special.

Robinson started off his career as an assistant coach at Radford for four years before going to Cornell for three seasons. He joined Williams’ Kansas staff before the start of the 1988 season, and stayed there for the next seven seasons.

After getting the experience he needed, Robinson was offered the position of head coach for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane from the Missouri Valley Conference before moving to the Western Athletic Conference. Robinson had great success with the Golden Hurricane as he led them to a 23-8 record, and an NCAA Tournament bid his first season.

His second season was even better as they won 23 games again and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He was named Western Athletic Conference Mountain Division Coach of the Year.

His time in Tulsa was short as he was considered one of the young, great, up-and-coming coaches in college hoops, and was offered the head coaching gig at Florida State in 1997. Yes, that Florida State. Sadly, things did not go as planned for Robinson in Tallahassee. His only season above .500 was his first year there.

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He was fired after the 2002 season, and returned to Kansas as an assistant under Williams, and has been with him since. Now with the Tar Heels, Robinson works directly with perimeter players. He helped Raymond Felton, Ty Lawson, and Kendall Marshall achieve the Cousy Award. He also recruited former Tar Heels like Nassir Little, John Henson, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, and Reggie Bullock.

The most defining moment in Robinson’s career was when he stepped up to coach the Tar Heels when Coach Williams exited the game against Boston College with dizziness. The Tar Heels were down early to a Boston College team that went win-less in conference play. They stormed back to take a small lead before going back and forth with the Eagles. When Williams left, it seemed like all hope was lost. The Tar Heels won 68-65 against a Boston College team without their top two scorers. Coach Robinson was the reason for that win.

After that game, the Hall of Fame head coach was quoted by 247Sports saying, 

“He’s like a brother to me. He coached his buns off tonight, and my kids played their rear ends off.”

Next time you watch a North Carolina basketball game, just know that “Coach Rob” is more than just “the guy that sits next to Roy Williams”.