UConn Legend - UConn Basketball's Uncle Cliffy !! Cliff Robinson

The UConn Men were a regular in the 8-9 Game in the Big East Tournament in the 1980's with little success. In fact 6 straight losses in that game led to the dismissal of Dom Perno. Before he left, Perno and Howie Dickenman recruited a quickly developing big man from Buffalo whose first love was football before a growth spurt sent him to the hardwood. His name is Clifford Robinson...Who slowly developed through out his High School, lead his Riverside H.S. Team to the Buffalo City Championship in 1984. During his Junior Year, Dickenman was one of the first College Coaches who reached out to Robinson and Cliff followed it up with a trip to UConn and eventually committing to Storrs.

After a freshman season where he was Tim Cole's backup, averaging just 6p and 3 rpg, Perno was relieved of his Coaching Duties after the 85-86 season...Enter the Jim Calhoun Era, who came from Northeastern where UConn showed interest after his Boston based Huskies beat UConn in the Title Game of the Connecticut Mutual Classic. Sophomores Robinson and Gamble were starting to flourish, after thinking about transferring prior to the season. But Calhoun wanted to build the team around these two...Cliff averaging 18pt and 7 boards per game thru 16 contests. But Robinson and Gamble didn't get it done in the classroom as they were ruled ineligible and lost for the season.

The 1987-88 Season would be start of better things in Storrs..A 7-2 start before the bulk of Big East play began...Robinson had 3, 30+ point games in this stretch (31 v Morgan State, a career high 42 against Hartford and 30 against Princeton. The Big East schedule wasn't great at 4-12, but they did beat #9 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in front of just under 30,000, at the time the largest crowd to watch a College Basketball Game...Robinson making two free throws with no time left. Playing in the 8-9 Game again, but this time the Huskies victorious in beating Providence and garnering winning record at 14-13. And a split in the Big East Tourney got UConn it's first postseason berth since 1982 with an NIT invite. And they didn't make the road easy.

Robinson would be a consistent factor in the 32 team event...Starting with a 62-57 OT win at West Virginia where Sophomore Tate George backed one in at the horn to force OT...Up next, a great shooting night at the Civic Center in beating La Tech 65-59, Robinson scoring 17 and the team shooting 67%. Cliff mentioning to the Daily Campus that this team was gaining confidence with every game and practice...And UConn caught a break, with no arena's available, including the Civic Center, sent Virginia Commonwealth to the Field House for the Quarter Finals...and the 4,801 sounded more like 20,000 as the crowd willed the Huskies to a 72-61 win...Robinson with another 17, passing the 1,000pt mark in the process as UConn shot 52% sending them to New York for the NIT Semi's. Where against Big East Rival Boston College, the Huskies shot 74% in the second half, Robinson unstoppable with 29 and UConn won 73-67...Finally, a game with a trophy involved...Ohio State in the way....And while Robinson struggled with foul trouble, Tourney MVP Phil Gamble and his teammates picked up the slack...in a 72-67 win and an NIT Championship. Robinson on the All Tourney Team in a season he scored 600pts and was named a 3rd team all Big East Selection.

The 88-89 season saw Robinson have another tremendous season, averaging 20ppg and 7 rpg to earn second team All Big East...The Huskies were 6-10 in the Big East and finished 7th...This after a 9-1 start and an national ranking at #18. The Huskies again upset #11 Syracuse at the Civic Center in what was a loaded Big East. But a talented Seton Hall Team that would play for a National Championship beat the Huskies in the Quarter-Finals...Robinson twice scoring 30+, early in a loss at Virginia and 32 in a loss at Pittsburgh...Again the NIT awaited the Huskies where they won at UNC-Charlotte before playing at home in Hartford...Where Robinson score 26 on 12/17 shooting against Cal, then 23 in a loss to a battle tested UAB Team in the Quarterfinals.

When Robinson's days were done at UConn, the 6-11 center scored 1,664pts...which at the time was third best in school history. Today, Cliff's total has him at #12...That Spring, Robinson was a 2nd round pick (36th overall) to the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA. In eight seasons in the great northwest, Robinson was named the leagues' 6th Man of the Year in 1993 where he averaged 19p per game...was an All Star in 1994 and played on two NBA Finals Teams in 1990 and 1992. You may recall the 92' Finals against Michael Jordan & The Bulls. Game One where MJ went off from long distance early, he shrugged his shoulders to the NBC Broadcast Crew, going up the floor next to him, Cliff Robinson...

Cliff played 18 years in the NBA...In Phoenix at age 33, he became the oldest player at the time to record 50pts in a game in 2000 against Denver. Rounding out his career with Detroit, Golden State and finally the New Jersey Nets where in those 18 years, Robinson amassed 19,591 points, averaging nearly 15ppg. And at 6-11 made over 1,000 3's in his NBA Career. Since his retirement, Cliff has appeared on Survivor, been in the Cannabis Business and even suffered a stroke in March of 2017. At last check, Robinson reside in the Portland, Oregon Area...where he's considering doing some coaching while running his own Sports Marketing Firm, mostly overseas...

In February, 2007..Cliff Robinson joined the Huskies of Honor and to this day, he's the only UConn Player, male or female to wear number "00" in Storrs. Maybe not an All American, but an early piece to success under Jim Calhoun that took the UConn Men's Program to unthinkable heights...Uncle Cliffy, Cliff Robinson a UConn Legend...

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