basketball Edit

Liam Robbins is blossoming into a go-to guy for Vanderbilt

It was always a matter of when, not if for Vanderbilt big man Liam Robbins.

Liam Robbins has flipped a switch for Vanderbilt (Gary A. Vasquez)
Liam Robbins has flipped a switch for Vanderbilt (Gary A. Vasquez) (Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today Sports)

With a proven high-major pedigree, a versatile offensive skillset, and a 7-foot frame. Robbins’ low output once he arrived in Nashville didn’t make much sense… except it did, at the same time.

After averaging 11.7 points-per-game at Minnesota, the Iowa native came to Vanderbilt with the expectation to do the same, until a stress reaction in his foot sidelined him until February of the 2021-22 season.

The then-junior had a few impressive outings throughout his shortened season, but finished with an average of just 6.8 points per game. That's his lowest scoring output since Robbins’ freshman year of college.

Robbins got back to full health throughout the off-season, but early on in the 2022-23 campaign, things still hadn’t clicked for the fifth-year senior. He scored just seven points in Vanderbilt’s opener and was held scoreless in the Commodores résumé-killing loss to Southern Miss. Robbins also averaged just 1.5 rebounds-per game within that two-game stretch.

But then a switch flipped and the change in Robbins’ production was drastic.

Behind a reliable post-hook along with a knack for converting around the rim, Robbins poured in 20 points and led the ‘Dores to an 89-87 win over Temple.

It wasn’t just the scoring output that was encouraging, though. There was a different comfortability for Robbins, a confidence that made this kind of performance feel repeatable.

The 7-footer has certainly shown that he is capable of repeating those types of performances as well. Since his scoreless outing against Southern Miss, Robbins has averaged 15 points, 5.75 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.

Robbins has also been the model of efficiency through the last four games. Robbins is shooting 72.2% from the field since Vanderbilt’s loss to Southern Miss.

Maybe the most encouraging thing about Robbins’ success is that it has come from different parts of his game. One night the veteran big man will dominate with post hooks, another night his post fadeaway will be unstoppable, and sometimes he’ll do damage out of the pick and roll.

In Thursday night’s 20-point performance, all of the above were applicable for the senior forward.

Robbins also protected the rim at the highest level in Vanderbilt’s win against Fresno State. He finished with eight blocked shots along with a few other shots that were altered but didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

In the absence of Quentin Millora-Brown, Robbins played 30 minutes and showed that he can be a focal point of Vanderbilt’s operation on both ends.

On Thursday night, one thing was made clear, Vanderbilt can be a different team when Robbins is on. He's been impressive throughout Vanderbilt's last four games and will need to continue to produce for the Commodores to have a successful season.