Junior guard Robby Peters’ reputation as a long range marksman preceded his arrival at UCSD in the fall of 2003. He saw action in all 54 games of his first two seasons in La Jolla, averaging 6.9 points per game over that span and knocking down 107 three pointers. This season, his second under Head Coach Bill Carr, the 6-3 San Mateo native has stepped up not only his offense but almost every aspect of his game. He’s still a prime threat from the outside, as his 41 treys (more than double anyone else on the roster) would attest, but he’s third on the team with a 9.4 points per game average, has handed out 22 assists and shown a propensity for getting his numbers in a variety of ways. He’s symbolic of the type of development shown by the entire Triton team which has won four of its last five games, climbed to the .500 mark in CCAA play and posted conference-leading marks in scoring defense. “Robby’s becoming more multi-dimensional,” says Carr. “His overall basketball game—defense, passing and making plays off the dribble—has improved. And the fact that he has the most experience of anyone on the team has a great impact on the young guys.” Prior to heading to Northern California for weekend clashes with Sonoma State and San Francisco State, Peters took time to talk about the evolution of his game and his team.
Q-With a couple of days to digest it, what are your thoughts about the team’s sweep of Cal State Dominguez Hills and Cal Poly Pomona at RIMAC Arena last weekend?
PETERS-It was really a fun weekend. It seemed like college basketball the way it should be. The crowds were big, everyone was into it—it was a good time and it was nice to get those wins.
We also showed that we can win in different ways. One night we put a team away by 30, something we haven’t done that often, and the next we showed we can win close ones too.
Q-What’s been responsible for the team’s strong recent play?
PETERS-I think we knew from the beginning that we had a good team but it was frustrating early on. We lost a lot of close games and we just had to win one or two to get a lift and start playing like we felt we could. In a lot of those losses, we played well most of the way but it was one five or six minute stretch where we didn’t execute that did us in.
One of the things we’ve got going for us now is that we can score in a lot of different ways. There are a lot of options. In the past we might have two or three guys who could score but now there are five or six good possibilities. Our ball movement and defense have been a lot better too.
Q-What areas do you feel the team still needs improve on to become a championship contender in the CCAA?
PETERS-The last few games, we’ve started to cut down those bad stretches and we just have to keep doing that. We have to play the whole 40 minutes. If you give away two or three minutes on any night, you might be giving away the game.
Q-What has Coach Bill Carr brought to the UCSD program?
PETERS-It feels like there’s a real direction. It didn’t always feel that way. It seems like this could be the start of something that could be real special. We’re on the right path.
Coach Carr has us bringing it everyday, 100%. In the past, it might have been acceptable to maybe have an off day in practice if you were sick or had problems outside of basketball. It’s not like that now. He really emphasizes grinding right down to the last minute of every practice.
Q-Do you notice any differences between Coach Carr this year and last year?
PETERS-Last year was our first year together. I think we were more scared and intimidated and I think he really wanted to set the tone and make sure we understood the expectations.
Now, he knows we’re on board and there’s been a lot more personality and character on both sides.
Q-You are now the only player still on the team who actually played prior to Coach Carr’s arrival. Why have you stayed when others haven’t?
PETERS-We’re not on scholarship and a lot of the people who were here just didn’t want to go through the adjustment. I really just wanted to play basketball. We won some games and there was still the camaraderie among the guys, but it was a hard time during the transition.
But it’s all been worth it. College basketball is something I’ve always wanted to do and I didn’t want this opportunity to go away. Having Drew (Spaventa) and Clint (Allard) here, both redshirted my freshman year, really helped. We helped each other.
Q-What has made you such a good outside shooter?
PETERS-Practice. Ever since I was a little kid, I shot a lot in the gym. I’ve always stayed after practice just getting shots up. You’ve got to feel comfortable with your shot and that comes with practice and repetition. It’s a confidence thing. Everybody’s going to have their off days but you’ve got to just keep shooting through it.
Q-What parts of your game do you feel have improved the most since you came to UCSD?
PETERS-First and foremost would probably be defense. When I was a freshman, we really didn’t stress defense in practice. Now, it’s a priority. It’s unacceptable not to play defense. With Coach Carr, if you don’t play defense, you’re not going to play. I think all of us have improved defensively and I know I’ve improved a lot.
Q-What part of your game do you feel still needs improvement?
PETERS-I’d still like to get more twos. I think that can be a bigger part of my game. Opponents are expecting me to shoot the three and if I up fake, a lot of times I can get open in the lane or on the wing from shorter range. Those are shots I can make.
Q-Your parents travel from Northern California for many of your home games. Is basketball as much a family affair as it seems?
PETERS-Basketball has always been big in my family. My grandfather was the captain of Santa Clara’s ’52 Final Four team and I’m always hearing about how their team beat John Wooden and UCLA three times.
My Dad played at UC Davis and my cousin, Nick Christensen, played at UCSD just before I got here. He was a big reason I wanted to come to UC San Diego. I wanted to go somewhere that was close enough for my parents to make games and in the CCAA we always play a couple of times a year in Northern California.
Q-As a Northern California native, how do you like living in Southern California?
PETERS-Well, you can’t beat the weather. Look outside, it’s late January and 70-degrees. That’s not happening in Northern California.
Sometimes I do miss the seasons. In San Diego, Christmas is like just another day. I love the beach and they’re pretty great down here, especially in the spring. Bottom line, though, I like both places and could live in either spot.
Q-Who are some basketball players you’ve admired?
PETERS-Obviously, Michael Jordan. He was amazing to watch. I also like watching LeBron James. He’s young, explosive and seems to have the whole package. At the college level, J.J. Redick at Duke and Adam Morrison at Gonzaga can both shoot the outside ball which I like.
Q-What are your favorite sports besides basketball?
PETERS-Baseball. I played most of my life as a shortstop and pitcher. I always wished I’d played football but there really wasn’t the time.
For a long time, I thought I’d play baseball instead of basketball in college but I ultimately chose basketball because I couldn’t stand the three-to-four hour practices. It just got too boring.
Q-What has been your favorite class at UCSD? Your toughest class?
PETERS-My favorite was Chemistry 11 with Professor Donahue, who I think is no longer at the school. That was pretty interesting and he made it fun. I also took an Arab-Israeli conflict class with David Forman-Barzilai. That was not in my major but dealt with current events and was definitely worthwhile.
The hardest? I’d have to say the Humanity Series for Revelle. A lot of people take parts of the program at other places, but I took all five sections here at UCSD and it was the hardest but most beneficial class I’ve taken at the University. It made me a better writer and made me more confident.
My grandfather was an English teacher and he loved this class. We also had the opportunity to read a lot of the classic literature. There’s a lot of value in that.
Q-What are your favorite things to do away from basketball?
PETERS-In the spring, I really like to go to the beach. The (La Jolla) Shores is my favorite spot. When the tide is out, there’s so much room. We like to go down and throw the football around all day. It’s a beautiful spot and very relaxing. I also like going to movies and am involved with my church.
Q-You’re an economics major. What do you plan to do with that?
PETERS-I’m not 100% sure but I think I’d like to get into sales and marketing in some way, preferably in the sports or entertainment field—something where I’m interacting with people. I’m working to get an internship this summer with Fox Sports Net in Northern California and hopefully that would give me some better direction.