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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chasing his dream

Robinson will play summer-league basketball with Orlando Magic

Former Kansas player Russell Robinson jumps between Christian Moody, left, and Chris Zerbe on his way to the basket during the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic at Free State High. Robinson played with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Developmental League last season.

Former Kansas player Russell Robinson jumps between Christian Moody, left, and Chris Zerbe on his way to the basket during the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic at Free State High. Robinson played with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Developmental League last season.

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Russell Robinson will not be vacationing in Turkey anytime soon.

“It wasn’t good,” former Kansas University point guard Robinson said of his brief stay in Zonguldak, a province with a population of 100,229 located along the western Black Sea coast region of Turkey.

It was there he opened his pro basketball career, playing point guard for Erdemir Zonguldak for a brief period last winter.

“There was culture shock, of course. For a young person, it wasn’t the best situation. A lot of my teammates agreed with me. I came back to the States and fortunately had a good time playing in Reno,” Robinson said.

Robinson, who was not selected in the NBA Draft two months after helping KU to the 2008 national championship, emerged as a budding NBA prospect after starting 35 of 50 games for the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Developmental League.

The 6-foot-3 Robinson averaged 12.3 points a game off 44.8 percent shooting. He hit 66 of 180 three-pointers for 36.7 percent and also dished 219 assists against 101 turnovers.

“Reno was different,” Robinson said. “I didn’t have anybody looking over my shoulder. I tried to stay out of the casinos and in the gym. I think I did a good job of that.”

He worked on his shooting — a lot — and displayed a soft touch in hitting four of seven threes en route to 17 points in last Wednesday’s Bill Self camp scrimmage between KU basketball alumni and current players.

“That’s a two-pointer in my league,” Robinson said of the college three-point line of 20-feet-9 inches, compared to the NBADL’s 23-9.

“I’m shooting it a lot better now. It was a lot of practice over the year getting my stroke together.”

The NBA has noticed his continued improvement.

Robinson will play summer-league basketball for the Orlando Magic in early July.

“I have an opportunity. Hopefully it goes well. I’m chasing my dream,” Robinson said.

He knows what it’ll take to stick in the league.

“A lot of guys say I have to shoot the ball well,” Robinson said. “You don’t have to do just one thing great. You have to a lot of things including play defense.”

Robinson, who is in town visiting friends and helping out at the Self camp, said he believes the Jayhawks will have a great team this coming season.

“They are talented,” Robinson said of the Jayhawks, who return all five starters off last year’s Big 12 title and NCAA Sweet 16 team.

“They have great leadership in Sherron (Collins) and a great inside presence in Cole (Aldrich). It’ll be good. I can’t wait to see them play.”

Robinson grinned when asked if the 2009-10 Jayhawks would have a more talented team than his KU NCAA title squad.

“I don’t know about that. They won’t even come close,” he cracked. “They can win it all, but will not be close to as good as us. That’s just my opinion.”

l Big O seeking return to NBA: Former KU center Greg Ostertag told the Journal-World last summer that he wanted to resurrect his NBA career. He repeated that sentiment to the Arizona Republic this week.

“I know I can still play,” said the 36-year-old Ostertag, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with wife Heidi and their three children — Cody (15), Bailey (12) and Shelby (9).

“It’s just a matter of getting back into shape. I can still play. I can put in 10 or 15 minutes a game, get some rebounds and block some shots.

“Young teams aren’t going to pick me up,” Ostertag told the paper. “A veteran team looking for somebody to give them 10-15 minutes, go in there and bang with other guys, that would be the team.”

Ostertag played in the NBA 11 seasons, 10 with the Utah Jazz. He retired three years ago.

The Republic reports the 7-foot-2 Ostertag plays hockey on Wednesday nights in a no-checking league. Another hobby, believe it or not, is baking cakes for all occasions.

“I’ve made some for my kids for their birthdays. I made a couple for my mom for her birthdays,” Ostertag told the Republic, noting he doesn’t sell the cakes, just bakes them for his family.

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

We are going to Orlando later this summer, and we will try to catch an Orlando Magic summer league game to personally cheer on Russell, if there's a game when we are there! My 21yr old stepdaughter was in Lawrence today talking to a PharmD advisor, then went to eat out in Lawrence and swears she sat across from RussRob--I told her she should've asked him when the summer league games were, since we would be there...she's kicking herself for not thinking of it (she got NO game...). LOL!

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Joel Hood 4 years, 10 months ago

My 8 year-daughter loves Russell. She finally got her picture taken with him at the Rock Chalk classic last Thursday evening.

Jaybate - I think the worst thing to happen to Danny Manning would be to become the head coach at KU. Each person excels at different roles - I believe Danny has found the perfect coaching role for him. Unrealistic expecations could easily tarnish his legacy and I would absolutely hate that. My dream is to see Danny and Bill retire together in about 25 - 30 years, after KU hangs 10 more NC banners in AFH.

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Jonathan Allison 4 years, 10 months ago

Russell Robinson is my favorite Jayhawk. I came to KU from Pitt State as a sophomore and it was Robinson's freshman year. I always considered him, Darnell, and Sasha to be my class. Robinson liked to throw his towel into the crowd when he was leaving the court at halftime and at the end of games. During the Pitt State exhibition game in what would have been his sophomore year I was sitting above the tunnel that the players run in and out of and I caught his towel as he was leaving the court at the half. I always wanted to get it autographed but I never did.

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jbrownjib 4 years, 10 months ago

I am surprised that O's career lasted 11 years. He had trouble making lay-ups and slam dunks when he played at KU. He got beat up by Shak pretty bad when he was in the league and so I don't know that he would be much of a 'banger' either.

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Joe Baker 4 years, 10 months ago

100- Yes it was Howard on the Adidas commercial with a KU jersey!

All the best Russell you'll do well ! You brought a NC to KU and now you can assist an NBA team to a WC.

After the NBA championship loss, you'll be a great addition.

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martyks 4 years, 10 months ago

The Big O could easily fill the role of the back up center. The Celtics would have LOVED having him in there for a few minutes before halftime... The Bulls could use him. If you're big, you represent five fouls to give. There are teams that hate having to send their centers to the line for free throws and any team that picks up O would have five more to give.

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jaybate 4 years, 10 months ago

jhawk7782,

Glad you mentioned Manning. I am hoping Danny is the next coach after Bill Self, though I hope Bill Self stays as long as he wants to. And I am hoping Russell is the next one after Danny. That's my vision. :-)

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Mike Bratisax 4 years, 10 months ago

jaybate..not a bad choice, but Manning deserves it at least as much. Not like it would ever happen..some funny looking bird already has the job.

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jaybate 4 years, 10 months ago

OakvilleJHawk,

Synchronicity on the NBA GMs getting inadequate sunshine regarding RR.

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jaybate 4 years, 10 months ago

Ralster,

I remember soooooooooo many things about Russell Robinson, because he was a helluva player. But the thing that stands out most in my memory is Russell being the only player to stay in Lawrence over Christmas his senior year. And I remember how much I hoped someone would invite him to Christmas dinner. And I remember how many total strangers on this board more or less offered to do so. It is odd that a New Yorker turns out to be, in my mind anyway, the quintessential Jayhawk basketball player. If KU were to do a log with a player on it the way the NBA did with Jerry West, Russell Robinson would be the guy I would want on KU's logo. He was that special to me. Some during his senior season I began to hope that Russell would have his pro career, come back to KU, assist for a couple of years, go up and coach for Janks a couple years, take over St. Johns for a couple of years, then be brought back to KU as head coach. KU head basketball coach Russell Robinson...god, I hope I live long enough to see him coach KU!

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Tony Bandle 4 years, 10 months ago

I can see why Greg wants to resurrect his NBA career....he wants to get out of the house!!!!!!

Some NBA GM will eventually pull his head out of his a$$ and grab RussRob.

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Ralster Jayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Russell Robinson (along with Mario Chalmers) was the first of Self's "combo" (do-it-all) guards at KU. He represents a shift from the generally smaller guys Roy recruited (notable exception being Kirk Hinrich--definitely a combo guard). Players like Miles, Vaughn, Hawkins were great in their own way, but a notch smaller (170 lbs). Remember seeing teams like GaTech with 2 tough guards (Jarrett Jack+ Will Bynum) and wondering "why cant we get some tough-a$$ guard like that"? Methodical. Less prone to getting 'sped-up', ie; stays in control and runs his team. Bill Self recruits this RussRob, sees the potential, and talks him into changing his slashing, attack-the-rim style ('mini-Langford' I called him his frosh year), into a ball-distributing, pick his moments type guy. Russell resisted at first, almost considering transferring, but in the end he let Bill Self turn him into glue. Glue. Went from being a top 30 prep ACC recruit to midwestern glue! But responsible his last 2 years of creating a team with 3-4 guys nightly in double figures. Nary a turnover (how hard is it to find THAT ability-wow!), yet not afraid to take big shots. Defense to the level that will make Bill Self wistfully smile today, wishing such innate ball-Hawking-ability grew on trees, or if there was some formula or way to clone the alien, I mean Russell. Well there is no cloning, only teaching and recruiting. While our current team is loaded, and is led by an astonishing athlete himself (Sherron), I miss Russell Robinson. He epitomized perseverance, self-confidence, and work ethic--a tribute to his own intellect and to his wonderful, articulate parents the KU nation caught a glimpse of in his Senior night game. His continued progress as a player was evident at the Alumni game and the benefit game this last week--he and Billy Thomas taking over the game (scored 50 between them) and essentially nothing the current KU youngsters could do. Nothing but a shining example for all those wearing Crimson and Blue--a success for himself and for Bill Self. He is forever one of us now: a proud KU alumni, but one who specifically gave all of us so many reasons to be proud of him. And for me, that pride in him is tremendous.

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Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

Dwight needed a coach. http://www.collegehoopsjournal.com/2009/03/12/the-college-stars-that-never-were/ Messin' up the best chant in America. Shameful. Bad Advertising.

In following the links, came up with this interesting by-line to the upcoming KU - Duke FB game - "As a three-star prospect from Austin, Texas, Reesing was recruited by Duke and Kansas." (http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/bwheeler03/tag/MissouriTigersCF)

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Kent Wells 4 years, 10 months ago

Greg: I'd like a red velvet cake for my upcoming birthday. Oh, I'm a 5th cousin like 8 times removed or something like that.

I maka da joke folks... (Not you, Greg. That cake would be really appreciated!)

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100 4 years, 10 months ago

Nice job Russ Rob.

Speaking of the Magic, was it Dwight Howard who did a commercial for Adidas doing the Rock Chalk Chant holding up a Kansas jersey?

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HockHawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Best wishes to RussRob. It's only a matter of time ...... We are all pulling and cheering for you!

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Ralster Jayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Best regards to RussRob. Will always be pulling for him! I can see him fitting in with Orlando--shorter and quicker with a special skill-set, much like how Chalmers fit with Miami. Could be the right team, right moment & situation. He is a champ and knows what it takes.

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dynomitehawk 4 years, 10 months ago

To all NBA Executives:

Prior to the classic final four KU smackdown on UNC....

UNC coach Roy Williams called Robinson, "the most important seven-points-a-game scorer in America."

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cklarock 4 years, 10 months ago

Russ Rob -- one of our all-time greats. Best of luck always, Russel!

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Redlandsjhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Ostertag lives in Scottsdale? That explains why I saw him at the Insight Bowl. He looked like he was in pretty good shape.

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canuckhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

One thing we know about RussRob: the man will stick with it and make the necessary adjustment. It was always such a touching moment when he was introduced at the start of a game especially because of the rough first season and because so many people thought he would quit and transfer. One of the great jayhawk stories. No doubt. Best of luck to you.

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yates33333 4 years, 10 months ago

I hope Russell makes it. He was a first rate person and first rate player at KU. I was surprised he wasn't drafted since he handled the ball so well and could drive. He was also a very good defensive player. With Russell and Mario on the floor the ball was never safe in the opponent's hands. They were great ball thieves.

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FairgroveJayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

“There was culture shock, of course. For a young person, it wasn’t the best situation. A lot of my teammates agreed with me. I came back to the States and fortunately had a good time playing in Reno,” Robinson said.

I've heard in the 80's (maybe it has changed now) public restrooms did not carry toilet paper but a towel and water to cleanse your left hand after cleaning your backside. It was common for people to use their left hand for such cleaning and to only eat, shake hands, etc. with their right hand. My uncle who told me, retired airforce stationed in Turkey for a year, was left handed and had to learn to eat right handed in public.

I'm sure Robinson probably thought he had seen it all coming from New York. I bet it was a huge culture shock. Good luck this summer in Orlando.. and may you never run out of toilet paper.

http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/details/Toilets.html

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hammr25 4 years, 10 months ago

Sean Elliott and Alonzo Mourning both played with 1 kidney just fine.

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KEITHMILES05 4 years, 10 months ago

Big O! Now, that is funny. The guy will never, EVER be taken by an NBA team. He's talking fluff and only that. LOL

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Eurekahwk 4 years, 10 months ago

But, doesn't Big O only have one kidney? Isn't is frowned upon to do things that would jeopardize your health?

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