Versatile Johnson puts fancy figures on board for IND She does it all: Moving from point guard to posting up under the basket is no problem for aspiring college player.

January 07, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

As a freshman, IND's Robin Johnson spent many afternoons playing pick-up games on a neighborhood court in Arbutus.

Academically ineligible for the Indians' basketball team, she honed her skills against neighborhood boys -- and hit the books hard.

"In a weird way, I'm sort of glad it happened," said Johnson. "It made me see that you can't slip at all. You have to stay on top of your work. I told myself I wasn't going to let it happen again, because missing my freshman year was a big disappointment."

That determination has kept Johnson on the IND court for three years and helped her develop into one of the Catholic League's most unstoppable players. She averages 18 points and 11 rebounds and is the driving force behind the Indians' current No. 11 ranking.

In a typical day's work, Johnson scored 26 points in Wednesday's 52-51 double-overtime victory over Catholic League rival Spalding.

Not only did she hit a turn-around jumper to send the game into overtime, but she hit two free throws and another turn-around to win it. On the game winner, Johnson got the ball on the baseline, dribbled, turned and shot over two defenders.

"We just couldn't stop her," said Spalding coach Kristie Lilly. "She's so versatile. She goes from point guard to playing post-up forward. That versatility killed us. We didn't have anyone who could guard her in both positions."

After playing forward for two years, the 5-9 Johnson switched to running the point this winter, because coach Deb Taylor needed her in the leadership position. But as she did Wednesday, Johnson can create problems for the opposition by moving back and forth.

"Robin's really physically strong. A guard can't guard her in the post," said Taylor. "She's in very good shape and she has to be, because we need her to play hard and play good defense against the other team's best player. There aren't too many players who can guard [Mount Hebron's All-Metro guard] Alisha Mosley and still score 29 points."

Playing the point has added even more depth to an already exceptional all-around game for Johnson, who scored 24 points Friday night in the Indians' 51-41 loss to No. 3 St. Mary's. Now instead of leading the Indians (7-4) only in points and rebounds, she leads them in assists and steals, too.

While she still shoots about 55 percent from the field as she did a year ago, Johnson has boosted her free-throw percentage from 52 to 70. She also has improved her range.

"Last year, if someone was playing me, they knew to stop my drive," said Johnson. "If they stopped my drive, they stopped me. I knew I had to have another asset to my game, so I worked on my jump shot."

Johnson wants to play in college and there's no doubt that her game has reached that level.

"In my opinion, she's a Division I player," said Taylor, "but coaches have shied away from her because of her grades. You read all the time about coaches taking a chance on someone or a walk-on who goes somewhere and succeeds. If someone would give Robin a chance, that's the kind of kid she would be. She wants to go to college and play ball and it just kills me that none of these coaches will give her a chance."

Johnson admitted that she does not test well and would have to improve both her grade-point average and her SAT score to attract more Division I attention.

"I work hard in school," said Johnson. "It's just that where basketball has just always been there, I've always had to work a lot harder to do well in school."

Some Division III coaches have shown interest in Johnson, who plans to major in criminal justice and become a police officer. She said she wouldn't mind playing at that level.

"I'd like to go to a small school like where I am now," said Johnson. "I'm just looking for a school to give me an opportunity to get a degree. Division I, Division III -- it doesn't matter as long as I can play."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.