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February 2, 2004A highly-touted match-up between Russell Robinson's Rice team and A.J. Price's Amityville crew proved a decent showcase for both players at the Tom Crotty Memorial Tournament at St. John's University on Saturday, with Robinson's Rice team pulling away and winning comfortably, 73-61.
Price was forced to shoulder more of the scoring burden for Amityville, and he was masterful at times, knifing through traffic and showing the elusiveness and quickness that made him such a coveted prospect this summer. A.J. finished with 36 points on 10 of 14 shooting, essentially doing everything in his power to keep his team afloat.
Robinson was coming off arguably one of the top performances of his prep career, a 36-point effort in a win over Archbishop Molloy earlier this week in which he was virtually unstoppable offensively while doing a commendable job on Molloy's Georgia-bound guard Sundiata Gaines.
While Russell was less sharp in the win over Amityville(a loss to Christ the King the night before might have had something to do with this), he still showed flashes of brilliance, tallying 24 points, defending well, and showing off a well-rounded game.
"(The game against Molloy) was probably one of the best games I've played all season," said Robinson. "I was fresh pretty for tonight's game(despite playing the night before), just a little bit rusty."
Robinson, the top scoring option on a team that includes 6-foot-7 Manhattan-bound senior Arturo Dubois and 6-foot-4,180-pound senior Weyinme Efejuku, along with 6-foot-8 sophomore Curtis Kelly, was forced to take the team on his shoulders a bit against Molloy as Dubois was sidelined with an ankle injury. With Dubois suiting up against Amityville, Robinson was not forced to shoulder so much of the load offensively.
"When Arturo was out I was able to play (without other scoring options), but tonight, we were back to normal."
Dubois was in the line-up against Amityville but noticeably hobbled by the ankle, and not at one hundred percent.
While Robinson was productive but unspectacular in the Rice win, Price was a force. Despite missing most of his high school season because of disciplinary reasons, A.J. was in mid-season form, slicing through for pull-ups, staggering defenders off the dribble, and generally finding ways to put the ball in the hole.
"Even though I scored 36, we still lost, so it was all for naught," said Price. "They had a lot of fresh bodies, and that was wearing our team down."
Price discussed some of the things he is working on for the jump to the Big East next season.
"Basically I've just been trying to weight-train before I go up there(to UConn)," said Price. "And then there is always private workouts and things like that."
Robinson also spoke about the aspects of his game he is trying to refine.
"I'm trying to be the best point guard I can be," said Robinson. "Trying to control the game and the tempo, make better decisions, things like that."
On this night, Price, forced to carry his team somewhat, piled up big numbers and did so in impressive fashion. Robinson, with a better supporting cast, turned in a solid performance while picking his spots and not forcing the action.
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