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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thomas Robinson must be ‘main course’ for KU

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson is a junior from Washington, D.C.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson is a junior from Washington, D.C.

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Who is the funniest guy on the KU basketball team?

Last year the Kansas men's basketball team agreed Mario Little was the funniest guy on the team. Another Jayhawk was the consensus pick as the team's jester this year.

Speaking just before lunchtime, Bill Self had food on his mind when asked about his expectations for CBSsports.com preseason All-American Thomas Robinson this season.

“He’s been the icing, so to speak. He’s been the dessert. Now he’s got to be the main course,” Self, Kansas University’s basketball coach, said of the 6-foot-10, 237-pound Washington, D.C., power forward who averaged 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in just 14.6 minutes per game his sophomore season.

“That was actually a decent food analogy,” Self added, laughing.

Robinson — he averaged 2.5 points, 2.7 boards and 7.2 minutes his freshman campaign — realizes he’s capable of bringing more to the table.

“I’m going to expand my game,” Robinson said of his offensive repertoire including jumpers from the outside as well as an assortment of dunks, layups and jump hooks in the paint.

“I am not going to fall in love with it,” he added of shots as far out as the three-point line, “but give people a sneak peek now and then. I have the ability to do that. Expanding my game makes me harder to guard. I know my bread and butter is in the paint. That’s where I’ll be, but don’t be surprised if I do that some.”

Robinson worked on improving his inside moves with assistant coach Danny Manning this past offseason.

“One of my main reasons for coming back (and not turning pro) was to spend more time with Danny,” Robinson said. “He gives me a list of moves I can do. There’s a lot more stuff he’s teaching me now that he wouldn’t have told me as a freshman.”

Self is all for Robinson moving away from the basket on occasion.

“Thomas has improved his stroke. There’s no question about that,” Self said. “I have not come up with a rule we’ll have for him. Take Russell Robinson ... we knew he was going to take two bad ones (deep shots) a game, two awful ones, so he could take them in the first five minutes or whatever, but he was done after that. Thomas ... I don’t know what it’s going to be, but he can’t live on the perimeter. He needs to use his athletic ability and motor as opposed to being (only) a skilled guy. He needs to be able to make shots, but also needs to be efficient. That’s by driving the ball and getting to the free-throw line.

“He’s got to get to the line and become a better free-throw shooter than he has in the past. He’ll be harder to guard than what he’s been in the past because he stepped out to make the shot.”

Robinson hit 49 of 96 free throws for 51 percent last season.

“It’s something I feel is mental,” Robinson said of free-throwing. “I shot the ball great in the offseason last year. I got in the game and unfortunately it didn’t transfer over. It’s all mental. If you have big-enough heart, you’ll step up to the line and knock the free throws down.”

Blessed with a natural nose for the ball, Robinson figures to improve his rebound numbers his junior campaign.

As far as the equally-important defensive end, “I need to be smarter so I can be in the game longer,” said Robinson, who was whistled for 67 fouls in 482 total minutes his sophomore season for 35-3 KU. “Last year I didn’t have to be in the best shape. This year I do. I have to stay healthy, keep running, be in the best shape of my life.”

Self said: “He can’t foul 32 feet from the basket because of not being disciplined and reaching. We’ve got to do some things to eliminate him from being in those situations. We have not had a lot of guys play 30 minutes (before) because we’ve had enough depth to keep guys fresh. We could literally have starters that could all play that (30 minutes) if they stay out of foul trouble. Thomas is as important as anybody we’ve had to keep on the court.”

Self expects Robinson to be big on intangibles.

“Even though he has not played a lot, he has more life experiences than most people go through in a lifetime,” Self said. Robinson’s mom and two grandparents died last school year. “He has matured at an unbelievably rapid rate because he’s had to. People look at Thomas as a pillar for us. He has been able to lead without talking because of his actions.”

Robinson embraces his new leadership role.

“I would say the toughest challenge for me is there will be a time we are down 10 points and not much time on the clock. Somebody might have to step up and keep everybody on the same page,” Robinson said. “Usually I’ve been preached to. Now I’ll be the one doing the preaching with Tyshawn (Taylor, senior) and Travis (Releford, fourth-year junior). I’m a person who will have to step up. It’s a challenge, but I’m ready.”

Sherron Collins safe, sound

Former KU guard Sherron Collins, who plays basketball professionally in Ankara, Turkey, reports on Twitter that his city was not affected by the recent earthquake.

“We’re good over here. It didn’t hit us,” Collins said.

Tickets available

A letter from KU coach Bill Self to fans was sent out via e-mail on Monday informing fans tickets are on sale for the Nov. 1 exhibition opener against Pittsburg State. A reserved family 4-pack is available for the game for $69, general admission seats $10 and reserved seats $20.

Comments

Alohahawk 10 years ago

You've got the right frame of mind, TRob.

  1. Make your free-throws: Keep your motion fluid. Last year, after you bent your knees, you stopped for an instant, then shot the ball. It looked herky-jerky.

  2. Limit the fouls. Do that, and you'll be first team for both Big 12 and All American teams. Staying in the game could double or triple your points and rebounds over last year's totals.

  3. As for three-pointers: It's a lot easier making 3 points with a lay-up or dunk, and getting fouled.

Michael Bratisax 10 years ago

"2. Limit the fouls." That's the key...I think the rest will fall in place if he remains on the court.

DDDHawk 10 years ago

Thomas- We can't wait for you to have the chance to have more minutes on the court. Thanks for working so hard this summer and in boot camp, etc. to prepare yourself. Your fans appreciate it!

kusayzone 10 years ago

I was humored by the phrase...6-foot-10, 237-pound Washington, D.C., power forward....I knew TR was a beast, but a 10,237 pound power forward???

KGphoto 10 years ago

And at 6 foot tall, he'd be like having Sherron playing forward.

Just kidding Sherron, but I did wonder if you might have had something to do with that earthquake when I heard you were in Turkey.

Ohhh! I'm on a role!

nuleafjhawk 10 years ago

drgnslayr -good point (and a chance for two good points. haha)

Free throw shooting has been one of my pet peeves for a long, long time. Especially since it cost us a National Championship in 2003 (OH yes it did).

Please, Coach - free throw shooting OUGHT to be something fixable. It's more important than the time and attention that we seem to give it. Free throw shooting will win you games.

Steve Gantz 10 years ago

But it's not fixable because it it becomes mental. Once it's in the head it becomes much more than muscle memory, which is what a FT should be for these guys.

I've often thought a FT shooter ought to be able to shoot the same or maybe even better percentage with their eyes closed.

Jack Wilson 10 years ago

Posted below and didn't see your 2003 reference .... disregard as repetitive.

jhyphene 10 years ago

These are good points. I'd add that free throws (really the whistles for the fouls that precede them) kill the tempo of a game. I've read HCBS talk about this team wanting to push the ball, get out and run. Fouls will drag the game slower. Making free throws will be crucial for KU when they play a quality team that is good enough to slow the tempo of the game. (Let's see, does KU have any god teams on the schedule this year?) Yep, gotta make free throws.

KGphoto 10 years ago

Well, I wouldn't call them gods, but better than average maybe.

Jack Wilson 10 years ago

On the historical footnote, please add the 2003 Jayhawks. Good stuff.

John Randall 10 years ago

  1. And, finally, one point often determines who becomes champions, and who becomes historic footnotes. Just ask Memphis in 2008...

Just ask the (13-of-32) runners up in the 2003 NC game.

rockchalk_dpu 10 years ago

To build off of this, Self might have be forced to sit TRob at the end of close games if he isn't reliable to hit FT's. In short, hit your free throws, stay in the game.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 10 years ago

Any word on the center we are recruiting for next year's class that visited Arizona last weekend?

Scott Oswalt 10 years ago

I was wondering the same thing. We need KTarc BAD!!!! Arizona is loaded down low and we need someone to compliment Ellis!

Clarence Haynes 10 years ago

Would love to see us pick up Kaleb and Andrew White. They along with Ellis, Peters, McLemore and Traylor make for a solid first year class.

Joe Baker 10 years ago

No. I tell you if Tharpe, TRob and Ellis had anytime with him, he is still leaning KU. I say that he was only throwing Miller a bone by making a last minute official visit out of respect.

“One of my main reasons for coming back (and not turning pro) was to spend more time with Danny,” Robinson said. “He gives me a list of moves I can do. There’s a lot more stuff he’s teaching me now that he wouldn’t have told me as a freshman.”

Miller doesn't have a DMan to prep his bigs for the next level and Tarc knows it. Even more interesting, Miller knows it too. This makes Miller a very desperate coach to land Tarc. I guarantee Miller is working some kind of nasty to get Tarc. This is what makes me nervous and Tarc seems very impressionable. He's a great kid.

lothario64118 10 years ago

My concern is the offense this year. Self said he was going to change it this summer. You know TR is going to get double-teamed like crazy this year. Frustration and fatigue will eventually get the best of him in many games. I wonder how Self will run the offense? JW can be the true center and let TR move and run like a true PF. I dunno. Just a bit concerned.

lee3022 10 years ago

I believed his original plan was to use numbers and run, subbing often. With the loss of the three freshmen that plan will need revising. This is a very strong guard team and those guys will facilitate ball movement making teams pay for double-teaming Thomas.

chriz 10 years ago

I am THRILLED for this year's team. I expect us to play better in the tournament this year than last year because of our advantage in athleticism and play-making ability. We will also have the key 6-7 guys playing big minutes during the regular season, so they'll have a chance to gain some rhythm and confidence. It's gonna be great. Go Hawks!

Jonathan Allison 10 years ago

The fact that this team is super athletic, makes the lack of depth even more scary. The top 7 or 8 players will all have to be in the best shape of their lives, because the tendancy all of these guys will have will be to get out in the open court and push the tempo. In the past when Self has lacked depth, he's slowed the pace and we've played like a mid-major. Partly to keep the legs fresh and partly because Cole Aldrich couldn't run the floor like Withey and Robinson are capable of.

We have seen how Mizzou and VCU have been able to push the pace with limited bodies, but it takes a special team and a lot of luck to make a living that way. Self isn't much of a gambling man. I would love to see him be able to let go of the reins a little bit this year, but with a very short bench, it's gonna be a little iffy...

chriz 10 years ago

I hear you, but even within a half court offense, I don't think that will diminish the advantages of our athleticism. My hope is that the athletic energy that is "contained" in a half court offense will be "released" on the defensive side. Usually someone's athleticism is both physical and mental, and I expect our guards to create a lot of steals with active hands and good anticipation.

Clarence Haynes 10 years ago

TRob, make those free throws just like you make the mad dash to catch the DC Orange Line Metro at Deanwood!

John Randall 10 years ago

If I'm coaching against KU, we'll let TR do anything he wants outside the lane. Even if he hits some shots, he'd be doing more damage inside. Every +1 he has puts the opponents closer to defeat, especially if he makes a good pct from the line.

lee3022 10 years ago

He can hit the three forcing other bigs out to defend him which opens up the paint for Tyshawn and Elijah. He will probably take two a game like Russell was limited to. (Or make two for two and get a third.)

Tony Bandle 10 years ago

Opponents strategy against TRob:

1] Feed the post and drive on him...every play...draw fouls. With Thomas out, our team effectiveness goes down 30-40%

2] When he has the ball, hack as soon as possible. Make him beat you from the free throw line.

3] Have his man draw him out to the perimeter...it won't totally stop him but it may result in a couple of cheap fouls as he rushes back to the paint.

4] Double team him until someone else proves they can beat them.

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