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Darnell Robinson

April 20, 1994
April 20, 1994

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April 20, 1994

Darnell Robinson

BY THE time he was five months old, Darnell Robinson had already
destroyed his first crib. The second one didn't survive his infancy,
either. ''I refused to buy him a third crib,'' says Robinson's mom,
Pamela Chaney, who had presciently nicknamed her son Tank shortly
after his birth. ''I just gave up and piled pillows around the
bed.''
With cribs treated like so much kindling at five months, what did
basketball opponents have to look forward to 19 years later, when
Tank was 6 ft. 11 in. and 260 pounds? They might consider themselves
fortunate that one of Tank's other family nicknames is the Sugar.
Robinson's impact on Hawgball has been sweet indeed. He arrived in
Fayetteville from Oakland last fall as one of the most highly
recruited Arkansas freshmen in memory, having set the California prep
career scoring record, with 3,361 points. Along with 6 ft. 11 in.
classmate Lee Wilson, Robinson has given the Razorbacks an
altitudinal look that has changed Hawgball from what used to be a
pressing frenzy to something resembling a post-dominated half-court
game.
''When we signed those two, I was the happiest guy in the world,''
says 6 ft. 7 in. sophomore forward Corliss Williamson. The extra
height freed him to play away from the basket.
Robinson's signing may have surprised a lot of national recruiting
experts, but Arkansas had a number of things going for it. For one
thing it wasn't far from Tulsa, where many members of his mom's
family live. For another, Nolan Richardson was straight shooting and
hard-nosed. ''He was one of the few coaches who didn't really kiss up
to me,'' says Robinson, who averaged 7.6 points and 5.0 rebounds this
season. ''He said there were some things about Fayetteville I would
like and some things I wouldn't like. He was honest.''
One of Fayetteville's features that Robinson wasn't crazy about
when he arrived were the hills that Richardson expected his players
to run up and down every day. A post player who towered over everyone
at tiny 106-student Emery High in Emeryville, Robinson was accustomed
to an uncomplicated game plan that involved his dunking at one end of
the court and his swatting away shots at the other. His pace between
the two activities was pretty much up to him.
''Arkansas basketball is on another level,'' says Robinson. ''Each
practice is as hard as my toughest high school game.''
Hard work notwithstanding, Robinson has had no trouble embracing
the Razorbacks' peculiar tattoo-bearing, snake-snaring,
droopy-drawer-wearing culture. He already had the tattoo that is de
rigueur among fashionable Hogs -- Robinson's is of a basketball
swishing through a net -- and shortly after meeting Corey Beck's 8
ft. 6 in. python, Robinson, an animal lover who has long dreamed of
having an exotic menagerie of his own, purchased two snakes. When
told by her son that she might be hosting the reptiles over the
summer, Chaney, Tank's biggest fan but no fan of snakes, told him,
''Good, I'll make me a purse.''
If Robinson doesn't become a zoologist after completing what
promises to be a fruitful basketball career, he may find himself
behind a mike, like his on- air hero, Dick Vitale. ''I like the way
Vitale announces a game,'' says Robinson, a communications major.
''He makes the game fun for people. Another reason I like him is that
I haven't heard him say any bad things about me. He's always saying
something good.''
Keep it up, Dickie Vee. Don't forget what happened to those
cribs.

This is an article from the April 20, 1994 issue