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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Keegan

Thomas Robinson dominates atypically

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson stretches out while awaiting a couple of Jayhawk free throws after a technical foul against Texas Tech during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson stretches out while awaiting a couple of Jayhawk free throws after a technical foul against Texas Tech during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, at United Spirit Arena.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 81-46 victory over Texas Tech on Jan. 11, 2012, in Lubbock, Texas.

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Highlights: KU vs. Oklahoma

— Thomas Robinson’s national Player of the Year tour hit a pair of speed bumps that limited his time on the United Spirit Arena floor to 19 minutes Wednesday night.

Foul trouble kept Robinson to nine first-half minutes, and a lopsided scoreboard prevented him from logging more than 10 minutes in the second half of Kansas University’s 81-46 domination of young Texas Tech, the favorite to reside in last place all year in the Big 12.

Robinson plowed through the bumps and stayed right on course as the leading candidate for national honors.

Playing not quite half the time, Robinson still created his usual barrage of highlights and typical line in the box score (19 points, 12 rebounds). And yet again, he left us asking ourselves, “Did I just see that?” and “How much better is this guy going to get?”

Yes, we did just see him running the point in transition, tossing a spontaneous lob pass to guard Elijah Johnson, who soared to heights seldom reached by guards and flushed it with his right hand.

Yes, we did just see Robinson swish a three from well behind the top of the key. He catches everything thrown to him and is right at the rim for nearly every opponent’s missed shot, giving nobody else a prayer at the rebound. And on this night, he ran the floor hard, at times beating the entire team down the floor.

An immovable force in the post, Robinson blends strength and quickness and a variety of moves to get where he wants to go and has grown so much in sensing when it’s time to bust a scoring move and when it’s time to keep the ball moving.

This season, he has added guard skills, handling the ball, feeding the ball inside and stroking jumpers, but he’s not overdoing it. He still knows where he’s needed most, where he’s most unstoppable. Besides, he enjoys dunking. Who wouldn’t?

“I thought the second half he showed a lot of people how talented he is,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of the junior forward from Washington, D.C. “I thought he was terrific the second half.”

Robinson had 14 points and seven rebounds in 10 second-half minutes. He certainly has an abundance of talent, but more than that is required to bring on such rapid improvement.

“He works hard in the weight room,” Self said. “He’s trying to become a student of the game, trying to understand. You know I struggled with him early in the season. Not from a bad standpoint, just from a standpoint I didn’t think he was understanding how he should play to give us the best chance.”

In the season’s opening weeks, Self offered words of caution on making too much of Robinson’s numbers.

“It seems to me since Christmas the light’s just come on,” Self said. “It seems like he’s more poised. He’s more patient. He’s looking for others better. He’s not trying to score out of doubles, and he’s just making the game so much easier for himself right now. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of.”

With improved understanding came a line of teammates following him.

“His energy level is so much better than it was early in the season,” Self said. “I mean, it was awful at times. Now it’s like everybody feeds off him. We can talk about Tyshawn (Taylor), Travis (Releford), all that stuff. Hey, when Thomas is turned up, that automatically turns everybody up.”

When Robinson’s poise, patience, power and passion percolate, pity the poor power forward playing against him. Guarding him is tougher than saying, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickles,” 10 times really, really fast.

“He’s scary, almost, when he gets turned up,” Self said. “He can fire everybody up.”

That passion used to lead to foul trouble. It seldom does anymore, although it did against the Red Raiders, when Robinson committed his second foul with 11:25 left in the half. He checked back in later in the half and played a few more minutes without getting whistled for a third.

“It was just me trying to learn a lesson because I’m pretty sure it’s not the last time that I get two fouls in the first half,” Robinson said of being sent back into the game. “I don’t want it to happen, but it probably will. It’s just me learning how to play smart with my hands and feet when I’m in foul trouble. I put my team in a bad position. Coach put me back out there, so that’s just him gaining trust in me, I guess.”

It’s amazing what great athletes can accomplish when they know teammates are depending so heavily on them.

“Just knowing how important I am to my team,” has helped Robinson stay out of foul trouble, he said. “In the previous years I can go in and hack somebody and nobody cares, still got the twins (Marcus and Markieff Morris) sitting over there or Cole (Aldrich). Now if I sit out with two fouls in the first half, we’re playing a team that’s coming at us pretty tough, it might be a problem.”

Robinson didn’t have any trouble conquering any problem that came his way. In other words, he had a typical night.

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Regarding EJ--whenever he does drive, it almost always results in a nice stratospheric assist to TRob or whomever. EJ has a 4:1 a/t ratio. He balances the "wild", kinda like BStar, but has this ridiculous athleticism ready to tap the hole. Needs to do it more. Just do it. (I miss Nike sponsorship, too...)

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tonyjayhawk35 2 years, 3 months ago

From where TROB was last year to now is crazy,and even from the beginning of the season is crazy.I used to be like he is going to try to go up and shoot in this double team,but you can see now how patient he is looking for the open guy.Last night when Kevin gave him that hook around after driving and TROB got the dunk,he just lets the game come to him now.Way to go TROB right now I think he is the clear cut fav for player of the year.I believe if he plays his usual minutes last night he hits th30-20 plateau again.

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cajayfan 2 years, 3 months ago

Sheeesh, I agree with number nine. Why does Elijah shoot threes and only threes?! Is he afraid he'll show up his driving "twin" Tyshawn? Man, I wish he would develop the game I know he could have with his athleticism.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

1] I am afraid the over-riding theme this season is going to be.... "did we win because of Tyshawn or in spite of Tyshawn?"

2] Travis has emerged just in time to give us that third scoring threat an elite team needs to have in order to compete.

3] TRob - 19/12 in 19 minutes!!??.......Yikes!!

4] Is it me or does Jeff look like he's moving quicker with better purpose?

5] Kevin works his butt off on defense, but he's still not quite there yet.

6] Conner...man, you've got to hit those wide open threes!!

7] Naadir...just pretend every team is wearing black and red with a big TT.

8] Justin...in the basket, man, put it in the basket.

9] Elijah, pretend that the hoop is your girlfriend...stay close!!

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William Blake 2 years, 3 months ago

"“It seems to me since Christmas the light’s just come on,” Self said. “It seems like he’s more poised. He’s more patient. He’s looking for others better. He’s not trying to score out of doubles, and he’s just making the game so much easier for himself right now. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of.”"

Yes!

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WilburNether 2 years, 3 months ago

I think Robinson is most comparable to Richard Scott in terms of attitude, effort, and approach to the game -- except Robinson is blessed with a much larger body and more talent.

What was that 7-footer from back east (Kaleb somebody?) thinking when he passed up the opportunity to be coached by Danny Manning? As has been the case with our other big men, you can see them start to do things on the court that Manning has taught.

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 3 months ago

Anyone else notice that Releford is becoming an expert at getting calls? He had one flop near the bench that was pretty good, but the sell job he did on that in-bounds play that got the technical on Tech was masterful. And I honestly mean this as a huge compliment. I think it shows what a savvy player he has become. That technical was arguably the nail in Tech's coffin last night.

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Dale Stringer 2 years, 3 months ago

Great game guys. It was one of the few times when we didn't have the lull after halftime. But I have to give the Huslte award to Tech's Adams. Did you see how quick he closed on defense when whoever he was guarding got the ball? There's only one knock against this kid and it's not his deafness. At 5'9", he's just too short to guard against someone that's 6'6". I don't remember any of our guy being able to drive on him, but they did end up just passing it over his head. If the rest of the Tech team would have played like that, we would have had our hands full.

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Jeremy Paul 2 years, 3 months ago

I think Robinson is the best player we've had since Collison. And he might even be better, who knows? But he certainly isn't better than Manning. It's a huge shame Manning had the knee injuries--we'll never know how good a pro he could have been. And without looking up his stats, I think he still played a good number of years and had his best seasons toward the end.

It's really tough to say who my favorite Jayhawk of all time is. Sort of like deciding which hair on my head is my favorite. There have been so many that I've loved: Kevin Pritchard (I used to pretend I was him while shooting buckets in the driveway), Archie Marshall, Mark Randall, Adonis Jordan, Alonzo Jamison, Steve Woodberry, Rex Walters, Jacque Vaughn (I had a cat named Jacque), Jerrod Haase, Scot Pollard, Russel Robinson, Chalmers, Rush, Jackson.....the list goes on and on. I really loved a guy like Christian Moody--not much talent, no speed, couldn't jump--but he played his heart out and he loved being a Jayhawk everyday. He knew he was never going to play pro ball, and he put everything he had into playing hard and enjoying every minute of his experience. It's hard not to love a guy like that. I'm also very partial to guys like Reed, Morningstar, Gurley--guys who grew up in Kansas dreaming of wearing the uniform and playing in Allen Fieldhouse and got to live out their dream.

I guess it would be easier to name the guys I didn't like, since the list would be so short: Micah Downs, JR Giddens.

Speaking of the alley-oop from Robinson to Johnson--gosh dang, exactly HOW high can Elijah jump? Dude is an athlete!

Sorry for such a long post. I love you all! Rock Chalk.

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Kye Clark 2 years, 3 months ago

Anybody up for messing with some other fans, there is a rather nauseating movement going on right now on an espn.com piece by Jason King. It's regarding the Wooden award, who is the leader and contenders, etc. In the comments there are hordes of Virginia fans clamoring for Mike Scott. Not like it matters or those people have votes, but it is rather sickening. TRob is his leader for the award at the moment. I showed my support for TRob, but was drowned out by the Mike Scott love-fest. Anyway, here's the link:

http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/44271/jason-kings-wooden-award-ballot

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Konkis Dongington III 2 years, 3 months ago

Last year when the Morris Twins announced they were leaving, honestly, I was glad to see them go. Although I loved watching them work together, I was dying to see what TRob could do if he was unleashed for a full 40 minutes. He hasn't disappointed in the least. If he can keep up the good work, have good showings against Baylor and Mizzou, and take us somewhere in March, he'll get PotY. I think his talent level is a surprise to all of us, but a pleasant one. Keep it up.

And to the Tarc, who scorned us, this is what you could have been if you came to KU. And to Julius Randle and other big recruits everywhere, this is where you could be if you put your trust in Self.

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always_a_jayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

As long as we're talking about T-Rob, any word on the status of his sister? And wasn't ESPN supposed to run a TV special on him some time this month?

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Cole Hogan 2 years, 3 months ago

At the end of last season and the beginning of this season, we were all thinking it was time for 'The Rise of Tyshawn Taylor." However, as the season has progressed, I think this team has become more and more of Robsinson's team, partially due to TT's sometimes-poor play-style, and partially due to TRob's utter dominance on the court.

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ardy682 2 years, 3 months ago

If Keegan write more articles like this I would have nothing to make fun of during the week. Jokes aside, Great article!

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actorman 2 years, 3 months ago

"When Robinson’s poise, patience, power and passion percolate, pity the poor power forward playing against him."

You've got to hand it to TK, that's one of the best lines he's written. I got a kick out of that one.

We all thought T-Rob would be good this year, and maybe even be an All-American, but could any of us have foreseen the incredible versatility he's showing? Truly remarkable.

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Nathan Scholl 2 years, 3 months ago

Keep it up T-Rob! Rock Chalk! You're a beast!

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SaltyJayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Thomas Robinson might finish this season as my favorite Jayhawk ever. Rock Chalk!!

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