COLUMBUS — The Columbus boys basketball team has gotten used to change.
First-year head coach Michael Robinson is the third coach for Columbus in the last three years. Longtime coach Paul Barta stepped down after the 2019 season, leading to the hire of Dennis Krago. Krago spent just last season on the sidelines for the Cougars. Robinson, though, served as an assistant on last year’s staff and has familiarity with the guys.
“That and being around the football program, being on staff there, just being around the kids and knowing their personalities, it’s going to be super beneficial," Robinson said.
“It’s been different, because every one of them has had a different coaching style," Columbus junior guard Colby Martinez said. "With Krago it was shots put up, like put more shots up. With (Robinson) it’s take good shots and work your butt off on defense.”
Robinson, a Joliet graduate, was the head coach of the Bridger boys two years ago before moving to Columbus in the fall of 2019. He had a talented freshman class at Bridger that is now blossoming, something similar to what he sees in the Cougars, who missed out on the State B tournament last year by a point.
“That was an awesome experience to start there," Robinson said of his time in Bridger. "Actually very similar programs. Super young, talented. I learned a ton that first year over there. Small Class C and looking forward to bringing what I learned there here to Columbus.”
The Columbus boys are off to a 4-3 start after winning at Big Timber on Tuesday night. Entering that contest against the Sheepherders the Cougars were shooting just 38% from the floor, which has held their offense back for now.
“God, if we can get some of these kids some consistency shooting the ball on the perimeter, it’s going to be very beneficial to letting these athletes go," Robinson said. "Colby (Martinez) and some of those, Caden (Meier), man, if we can get that perimeter shot going, they’re going to be able to do a lot of different things with the ball in their hand.”
“If we shoot the ball well, I think we should put up a lot of points. Those off nights we’re going to have, we’re going to have to learn how to score other ways," Cougars junior guard Cale Chamberlin said.
Martinez got it cooking for Columbus on Tuesday night, pouring in 32 points to lead the Cougars to victory. Columbus will hope that scoring outburst becomes more of the norm.
Columbus is in action on Friday against Joliet and Saturday against Big Timber.