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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Keegan

Jayhawks play with heavy hearts

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KU vs. Texas

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Texas defeated Kansas, 74-63 at Allen Fieldhouse, ending the Jayhawks' home-game winning streak at 69 on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 74-63 loss to Texas on Jan. 22, 2011.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Texas coach Rick Barnes

Texas coach Rick Barnes talks to reporters following his team's 74-63 victory over Kansas on Jan. 22, 2011, at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The first loss in 19 games this season and in the past 70 games in Allen Fieldhouse didn’t have anything to do with why the three Kansas University basketball players who attended Saturday’s postgame interview session had difficulty talking. Tyrel Reed, Marcus Morris and Brady Morningstar looked emotionally spent after they lost, 74-63, to a terrific Texas team.

Words can’t ever capture the feelings when a loved one suffers a death in the family. Sophomore Thomas Robinson’s teammates were shaken to the bone by the Friday night death of Robinson’s mother, Lisa Robinson, who herself had lost both of her parents in recent weeks.

That’s the loss that put such puzzled expressions on the faces of the players afterward. They’re all familiar with how difficult it was for Robinson to leave his Washington, D.C., home, where he helped his single mother parent Thomas’ younger sister, whose age Robinson said in October of 2009 was 7 at the time. They’re all proud of how much he has matured in his time in Lawrence, and they’re all wondering what they can do to try to help him cope.

The world doesn’t stop spinning for anybody, not even someone who has been through as much as Robinson has lately. The game went on, and he decided to play in it.

Feeling more closely bonded than ever, the Jayhawks came out on fire. They aren’t as good as they played in taking an 18-3 lead, and they’re not as bad as they were the rest of the way, when they were outscored, 71-45, when fatigue certainly played a part. Midnight approached when the players learned of Robinson’s loss. Suddenly, getting rest in preparation for the game didn’t seem so important. Nobody from Kansas used that as excuse for limping to the finish line in their first loss, but it was undeniable it played a part.

Texas coach Rick Barnes opened his postgame remarks referring the tragedy.

“First of all, I’d really like to offer our condolences to Thomas Robinson and his family,” Barnes said. “I can’t even imagine the burden and the weight that was on his shoulders today. And as a team, when you have a team and a player loses his mom, it affects everybody, and I’m sure it’s weighed really heavily on Bill (Self). I’m sure he’s had a really tough time. You only have one mom. My condolences go out to (Robinson) and his family.”

That’s not to say Texas, easily the best team Kansas has faced, wouldn’t have won if tragedy had not gripped the team.

From a purely basketball standpoint, the biggest difference between the two best teams in the Big 12 proved pivotal in swinging things in the Longhorns’ favor. Texas has a shot-blocker, and a darned good one, in freshman center Tristan Thompson, and KU does not have one. The last shot-blocker the Jayhawks had, Cole Aldrich, is playing for the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA D-League, after getting selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The absence of a shot-blocker means a Kansas perimeter player doesn’t have a safety net when his man blows by him. It also means the help defense supplied on the interior isn’t delivered with the sort of authority that makes shooters hurry.

That’s what Thompson does for Texas. Barnes called Thompson’s five blocked shots the most significant statistic in the game. Self spoke to the way he altered shots.

“He just controlled the paint,” Self said. “I thought there were some times where we flinched or double-clutched and that kind of stuff. We told our guys, ‘He’s going to jump, try to lift him,’ and that didn’t really happen much. He’s good. He’s a good freshman. They’ve got two good freshmen, but he’s outstanding.”

The other good freshman, point guard Cory Joseph, looked like a much more polished basketball player than KU’s top freshman, Josh Selby. Self has a puzzle facing him in how to get the most out of Selby. The answer might lie in letting him play on the ball more, so that he can get more comfortable handling it against skilled defenders, grow more confident, and develop to the point he can break down defenses and set up teammates for buckets.

The coaches and players won’t waste any time getting back to work trying to get better, but there is no way around the reality that they’ll be doing so with heavy hearts.

Comments

kesmithstl1 3 years, 6 months ago

nice work! You could just see KU's energy and emotion drain as the game went on. Texas had something to do with that, but you have to imagine some of the focus was away from the game of basketball. Who could blame them? Such a devastating loss for T-Rob, his sister, and the entire family.

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kesmithstl1 3 years, 6 months ago

I don't know why this double posted. Sorry about that!

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kesmithstl1 3 years, 6 months ago

nice work! You could just see KU's energy and emotion drain as the game went on. Texas had something to do with that, but you have to imagine some of the focus was away from the game of basketball. Who could blame them? Such a devastating loss for T-Rob, his sister, and the entire family.

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 6 months ago

Yea, HCBS tried to use a lot of timeouts to stop the bleeding but even the stoppages didn't help the Jayhawks. Hey, it's just one game. There's another game on Tuesday. We have to get through this. We don't want one loss become two losses, right?

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Michael Leiker 3 years, 6 months ago

What humbling, selfless comments by Barnes. It is great to see the respect shown between these two teams. What a rivalry developing. Great respect and Great sportsmanship. Congratulations to both.

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up4par2000 3 years, 6 months ago

I just wish I can see Withey get mean and physical. Didn't I once hear that he would always block all of Cole's shots in practice? I don't care if he scores 2 points, just start banging bodies, block out, get rebounds, and block shots. Most importantly is blocking shots. It is true, we need a shot blocker.

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bdk980 3 years, 6 months ago

Personally, in the limited action that Withey played yesterday, I was happy with his performance. It WAS limited but...on offense, he seems to be a 'bit of a liability when he touches the ball down low. With that said, he didn't force any shots (I don't even remember him taking shots) on offense. When he plays defense, opponents (at least last night) have difficulty getting position on him, taking good shots, or pulling down rebounds all due to his extreme height advantage over ever player on the Tex bench. Texas had to adjust to us when he was in the game, putting in the guy that looked like a frickin' tank and even he couldn't do anything on offense or pull down boards. I'm still on Selby's bandwagon, he's a freshman, he going to play like it @ times... but I was itching to see Withey more than Selby towards the end of the game... don't quite understand the rationale there of not giving Withey more PT. At the end of the day, I'm not going to agonize about a loss to Tex or them snapping our home game winning streak. Winners don't stand around a make excuses when they loose, but man... its tough not too given the circumstances of the last 48 hours. As a jayhawk fan, Robinson has really grown on me this year. When I read this article this morning, I couldn't help but get teary eyed.

At the very end of the day, I don't think too many Jayhawk faithfuls expected us to go undefeated. With that said, if I had to pick a team to loose to, as of right now...it would be, without question, to Texas. As always, I'm still looking ahead to the bigger picture...March.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 6 months ago

any word on if turner gill was incharge of halftime adjustments. . .ZING! been waiting to us that one.

seriously, this loss means absolutly nothing. after the loss of t-robs mother you knew this game was going to go one of three was. 1)step on texas from the start 2)texas steps on us from the start 3)step on texas from the start then fizzle out. it's just too bad the tv execs errrrr officials kept this one close. there were alot of whistles that could of been swallowed by the tv execs errrr officials but the nation is not going to sit infront of a 20pt blowout for the entire second half. chalk this one up to cbs and we will get back after it tues at CU. man i never feel good about going to CU.

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Woody Cragg 3 years, 6 months ago

Especially flying out there this time of year.

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kansasexplorer3128 3 years, 6 months ago

Nice article, Tom. I've been touched by the events of the weekend and wish to convey my admiration to the entire KU men's program for what they have demonstrated about team and family this weekend, then after giving their best efforts, showing class in losing.

I have never given Rick Barnes much credit for his coaching abilities in the past, but thought his in-game and halftime adjustments were successful. Also impressed with his post-game comments about T Rob and the 'hawks.

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John Randall 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm amazed how completely our entire program - even most of the fans - has accepted this loss and is dealing with it according to the dicutm:

Excuses don't make you better, dealing with adversity does make you better.

ROCK CHALK! GO 'HAWKS!

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Funhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

This was a good article. Life is fragile. I prayed for you last night Thomas, that you, too, would fall asleep inside the big hands of our Savior.

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Ed Brown 3 years, 6 months ago

All I can think of is his poor 9 year old sister that not only lived through it while he was here but having to pick up the phone and call her big brother to tell him the news. There is no doubt she has already developed the character TRob's mother instilled in him. I don't know how he can return and leave her. If the ordeal started late Friday night, I suppose if nothnig else, the team learned the importance of a good night's sleep before a big game. :P

As much as I dislike some other Big 12 teams not to be mentioned, I know every coach in college basketball would have showed the class of Rick Barnes after the game. I almost wish they would have put in more subs to balance it out but I know none of the Kansas players would accept anything less than full out competition. After all I read of the game, I feel the Jayhawk love and pride throught the land. It is great to be a Hawk! RCJH

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baby_jay 3 years, 6 months ago

did anyone hear the pregame interview that coach did with bob davis? you could hear the emotion/pain in his voice, and you could tell this game was just not as important

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baby_jay 3 years, 6 months ago

pregame interview--- informing jayhawk nation of t-rob's unfortunate news

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