Low maintenance, high expectations

John
John Browne
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Rookie Robbie Habib is going to be 'special,' predicts Sea-Hawks' coach

Robbie Habib understands he needs to be more consistent but, like a lot of very good varsity basketball rookies, he has a tremendous up-side.

"Some games are good and other games ... I'm not really playing the way I should be," the Nova Scotia native said of his first half dozen games with Memorial Sea-Hawks in the Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) conference.

Memorial Sea-Hawks' rookie Robbie Habib averaged more than 30 points a game to win the Metro Halifax high school scoring title in 2007-08. - Photo by The Telegram

Robbie Habib understands he needs to be more consistent but, like a lot of very good varsity basketball rookies, he has a tremendous up-side.

"Some games are good and other games ... I'm not really playing the way I should be," the Nova Scotia native said of his first half dozen games with Memorial Sea-Hawks in the Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) conference.

Habib opened the season on the bench, but started the past three games before the Christmas break. Third on the team in scoring with 9.2 points-per-game, behind team leader Jason Shepherd (14.5 ppg) and Mark Woodland (12.2 ppg), the six-foot-four player from Lower Sackville, N.S., is one of nine rookies on the Sea-Hawks' lineup this season.

MUN coach Peter Benoite is straightforward when he talks about Habib's play to date.

"He's struggled a little bit with his consistency," said Benoite. "He's been up and down a bit, but he's had some good games for us. He's definitely got a lot to offer and right now, we're just trying to find ways to give him the best opportunities to play well.

As far as his last three games as a starter is concerned, Benoite cautions not to read too much into it.

"We're tweaking the lineup to see what works. We're trying to find the best lineup that works, whether that's coming off the bench or not.

"He's been able to perform well at times," Benoite said of Habib. "He's a guy trying to adjust to the university level which you see all the time with young players.

"I think he'd like to be on the wing instead of where we are playing him which is more of a post position. If we can recruit a post player and move him to the wing, he'd be in a much more natural position.

"Teams see a young player do well and in the next game they try to lock him down. That's where you see the inconsistency. Young players have to make that adjustment and sometimes it doesn't come until your third or fourth year."

Habib has tremendous scoring potential. He averaged over 30 points a game in winning the Metro Halifax High School Basketball League scoring championship last season with his Sackville High team.

However, he didn't have any illusion as to what he could do with Memorial at the AUS level.

"I just wanted to come in do what I could to help improve the team," Habib said.

MUN is 2-4 so far this season after a disastrous 0-20 campaign in 2008-09.

Originally recruited by Todd Aughey, Benote's predecessor, Habib kept his commitment to come to MUN even after Aughey resigned.

He also talked with Saint Mary's University, but he had made up his mind to study engineering so it was between Dalhousie University and Memorial, and Dal was looking at him for the varsity volleyball team.

"It just seemed like a good fit for me education-wise," said Habib, "plus I really wanted to stay with basketball. I didn't want to give it up at that point."

He was also impressed with the new MUN head coach.

"When I first talked with Peter, I didn't know anything about him or his past history with MUN. But the first few conversations I had with him, he seemed pretty optimistic about the team and I liked the direction he was going. He seemed like a great fit for the program.

"I didn't have a lot of expectations coming in," said Habib, "I just hoped I could work my hardest and do my best and contribute. While it's been pretty good overall, I expected to be more consistent."

Inconsistency is a subject Benoite discussed with Habib from Day 1.

"We talked a couple of times and he said what I could expect as a rookie," said Habib.

Benoite is happy Habib chose MUN for the academics as much as for the hoops.

"He's a good student. It speaks well for his maturity as a person and what he values, for sure," said the MUN coach.

"I got a pretty good vibe from the first time I talked with him," noted Benoite. "He's been a joy to coach ... zero maintenance. He's got a great attitude and approach to the team concept. He's willing to do whatever we ask of him and there are no complaints.

"I think he's going to develop into something special."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Atlantic Universities Sport, Habib's, Metro Halifax High School Basketball League Saint Mary's University

Geographic location: MUN, Nova Scotia, Lower Sackville

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