Rob Phinisee Centers this Team


Written By: Ben Malcomson 11/10/2018

Rob Phinisee may not be the center of attention on the 2018-19 IU men’s basketball team (that spotlight is shared between Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford), but it is evident after four games (counting the exhibitions) that he is the one that centers this team.  He would go on to score 12 points (4-6 FG; 3-4 3FG) with a rebound and an assist in IU’s 80-35 victory over Montana State Friday night.  Those types of stats do not exactly knock you back falling off your chair.  The truth is, they do not need to!

Why you ask?

Because three others scored in double figures (Morgan – 14, Justin Smith- 13, and Langford - 12) and another came damn close to (De’ron Davis – 8).

Is that all?

No. The most important stat many probably overlooked last night was that Phinisee did lead the team in some categories.  Namely, minutes (26) and in the +/- category (36).

For those that are not aware, the +/- category reflects how a team did while that player is on the court. If a player has a +5 PM, it means his team outscored the opponent by 5 points while he was on the court. If he has a -3, then the opposing team outscored his team by 3 points while he was on the court.  Rob had a 36… that is kind of a big deal!

The best way I can describe is letting some of my emotion take hold in this discussion.  I was asking myself at the end of Friday’s matchup, “In the perspective of an IU fan, who do I trust with the ball in their hands?”  The first name that popped in my head was the freshman true point guard, Rob Phinisee.

How often in the past couple of games alone did you feel any sort of sensation of anxiety when he touched the basketball?

Not one particular situation.  Absolutely none.  If you did, you need your eyeballs checked Let us pump the brakes for just a minute. I know it was just two games against competition of obvious talent discrepancy, but he is a freshman.  I MUST remind myself of that almost every time down the floor when he is facilitating the offense. Rob does not play with the poise of what you would commonly see from someone adjusting to the college level so quickly.  He, literally, is built for the college game both mentally and physically.

When it comes down to it, it is not the most important part of success for a team in knowing who leads the them in scoring, rebounding, etc.  It is most important who centers this team.

Before you freak out and say, “What about Juwan Morgan and Zach McRoberts?! They are the captains! They lead this team!”

Of course, they do.  But, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the ones who centers them on the court.

The definition of center from a geometry standpoint- the middle point, as the point within a circle or sphere equally distant from all points of the circumference or surface, or the point within a regular polygon equally distant from the vertices.

Maybe I should go with a simpler definition even - a point, pivot, axis, etc., around which anything rotates or revolves

Basically, when s**t goes sideways, he is the guy you get the ball back to when you are trying to hit the reset button on any given play.  He makes things happen when it goes through him.

How does that saying go?  “The proof is in the pudding?”  In Rob Phinisee’s case, the proof is in the first four games (counting the exhibition and scrimmage).  He has the basketball IQ, the poise, the drive, and the natural god-given ability to make the most of his opportunities early. Much like he did when Devonte Green was sidelined.  Because of that, that is why he has become a fan favorite and a key piece to the starting rotation.  That is not going to change any time soon.  IU fans should feel good about that.