Saturday, March 24, 2012

Arch rivalry: Thomas Robinson keeps KU focused — on Heels

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson listens to a question from a media member during a breakout session with reporters on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson listens to a question from a media member during a breakout session with reporters on Saturday, March 24, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.


— Thomas Robinson was tempted to start a food fight with Kansas University basketball teammate/best buddy Tyshawn Taylor during brunch Saturday in a ballroom at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch Hotel.

“We got into an argument, like a full-blown argument, like a serious one,” said Robinson, ready to turn over Taylor’s plate of lasagna and garlic bread after hearing the senior point guard mention how great it’d be to be in next week’s Final Four in New Orleans.

“I’m just scared to overlook anybody now. I’m scared to think about next week, scared to think about Monday. I’ve seen what happens when you do that,” junior forward Robinson added. “I don’t want that to happen anymore. I’m tired of going home crying ... so I’m trying to fix every little mistake that caused us to go home last year.”

Robinson admittedly is a bit “paranoid” as he focuses on taking it one game at a time heading into today’s 4:05 p.m. Elite Eight contest between No. 2 seed KU (30-6) and No. 1 seed North Carolina (32-5) at Edward Jones Dome.

“I’m not comfortable, man. I think that’s my biggest problem with coach (Bill Self),” said Big 12 player of the year Robinson, a lock to be consensus first-team All-American with his jersey No. 0 destined to hang in the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse in five years or so. “Coach is telling me to relax a little bit, but I can’t help it. I want to get the further I can get. The Elite Eight is not good enough for me. I want to get to the Final Four and keep playing. I’m not ready for my career to be over with. I do take it pretty serious, probably more serious than I should. I just want to win.”

So does floor general Taylor, who actually is happy Robinson — whose next loss at KU figures to be his last, with the NBA Draft lottery calling his name — called him out Saturday.

“We were arguing a little bit. I caught myself thinking about the match-ups that could happen if we make it there (Final Four). I caught myself thinking ahead a little bit,” Taylor said.

“He said, ‘Ty you’ve got to relax a little bit.’ We caught ourselves doing that a little bit before. My whole thing is our team is not the same team, our attitudes are different. Still, he had a very valid point. You can’t look too far in the future.”

Robinson said he has been communicating a bit with the NBA’s Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, who were part of last year’s Elite Eight loss to VCU and a second-round loss to Northern Iowa the year before that.

“That’s pretty much where I’m getting this from now,” Robinson said. “They are talking to me, telling me the mistakes they made, how they overlooked everything. They want for me not to make that mistake. I’ve been watching the past two years how this team handled things, how we went about it. Now that it’s my turn. I don’t want that to be the reason why.

“Tyshawn wasn’t overlooking anybody. He just was saying how good it would be in the Final Four. Don’t get that twisted. It’s impossible to overlook North Carolina anyway.”

Taylor, who reiterated Saturday he’d love for injured UNC point guard Kendall Marshall (broken bone, right wrist) to be able to play today, said he learned a lot from last year’s Elite Eight loss to VCU.

“In that game we were all looking so much to get to the Final Four because I think we all felt like if we beat VCU, we’re going to win this thing,” Taylor said. “I think that’s where our whole focus was instead of just thinking, ‘We can beat VCU. These are guys who’ve beaten everybody the whole tournament.’ We understand that these guys were going to come and play and be ready to beat us.’ We were looking past them so much that we ended up losing. I think it’s a little bit different now because, first, we’re probably the underdog in this game, and No. 2, it’s Carolina, you’re not going to look past Carolina. You can’t. They’re great. Being in this situation is a little bit easier because we’re playing against a team that’s expected to beat us, so its easier not to look past like we did in the past.”

Big men Robinson and Jeff Withey today face big tests in twin towers Tyler Zeller and John Henson.

Zeller, a 7-foot, 250-pound senior, averages 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game; Henson, a 6-11 junior, averages 13.8 points and 10.1 boards.

“I’m actually watching tapes of the Kentucky game. I think that will help me for this game,” said Robinson, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds in KU’s 75-65 loss to the Wildcats on Nov. 15 in New York. The 6-10 Anthony Davis had 14 points and six boards that game.

“John Henson and Anthony Davis both affect the game on the defensive end by altering shots and blocking shots. I can look and see what I did and didn’t do against Anthony Davis,” Robinson added.

Carolina’s leading scorer is 6-8 sophomore Harrison Barnes, who averages 17.2 points per game. Reggie Bullock, a 6-7 sophomore, contributes 8.9 points and 5.0 boards. He had 17 points (Zeller had 20 and Henson 14) in UNC’s 73-65 victory over Ohio on Friday in the Sweet 16.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to play against a terrific team and program that we obviously respect a tremendous amount, a coach that obviously has played a huge role in the history of Kansas basketball, and really looking forward to the challenge and having an opportunity to play for what every coach and every player dreams of in the beginning of the season, the opportunity to go to the Final Four,” Self said.

As far as preparing for UNC, with or without Marshall ...

“He’s a terrific guard,” Self said. “And we could do some things that are a little bit different than if he was 100 percent healthy, there’s no question about that, or attempt to do some things. But the bottom line is, we are who we are. And in our packages we could do a few things differently. Do you trap ball screens? How do you guard certain things? Where do you pick up? How do you take him out of certain sets? Do you back off? Do you play passing lanes? Do you overplay right (Marshall is a lefty)? I mean, there’s a lot of things that you could certainly do. But we’re going to prepare basically that we’re going to try to guard North Carolina and regardless who was out there at the point.”


Doug Cramer 7 years, 10 months ago

Keys to beating Roy Williams:

1: play physical 2: execute well on defense 3: make them play in the half court on both sides 4: slow the tempo down and make them grind

I feel pretty good about this game.

Joel Thomas 7 years, 10 months ago

Good points. Glad they're finally underdogs.

jayhawker_97 7 years, 10 months ago

may i add REBOUND? i don't want to jinx our chance, but we look so much more determined than the scardee Heels. they're a bunch of softies. i'd like to see TRob rip them apart, Withey gnaw his teeth & mean face block the hell out of Zeller's pity shots.

i'd say let's win by 15!! r o c k C H A L K ! !! ! !!!!!

Matt Bowers 7 years, 10 months ago

+1. The other things I hope for are rebounding and good sportsmanship from our fans at the game. Win or lose, I hope its done with class.

Rock Chalk

Dirk Medema 7 years, 10 months ago

I'd moderately disagree with 4. That's what people were saying in '08 also.

Roy-boy ball is to always try to push the tempo so they get a rep for being so fast. Self on the other hand is known for grinding D. Fortunately, Coac Self is also wise enough to know the benefit of speed, especially in the backcourt. That is why he pushed for TT in the starting lineup 2 yrs ago when he wasn't nearly the polished player he is today.

KU can easily run with UNC and most any other team, because we have the athletes 1-7 to do it, just like we ha 1-8 or 9 in '08. Do you remember Billy Packer commenting on how UNC didn't look so fast against KU. Must be someting wrong with UNC rather than the fact that they were playing someone else that was fast. Fortunately, Coach Self also teaches the guy to play solid half court sets, so it is good for us to run or play in the half court.

That means rather than "slow tempo", it is force UNC to play in the half court while running when able.

floridajayhawks 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm glad you are, but I'm not to confident that KU gets it done today.

Nathan Scholl 7 years, 10 months ago

I LOVE the fact that Robinson is taking this so seriously. Finally, the point has hit home with this Kansas team and they are going to be focused. I will admit, my stomach still gets a little queasy when I hear Tyshawn talking about how they overlooked everyone last year, but if it happened, it happened. They really can learn from it. This game is KU's for the taking. Step up BIG Fellas! ROCK CHALK!!!!!

Chris1955 7 years, 10 months ago

I appreciate the fact that the Morris twins were great; however, I always felt you could physically intimidate them. I think that their leadership skills were not the greatest.

JayHawkFanToo 7 years, 10 months ago

Please tell us what team physically intimidated the twins? The tournament games that KU lost while the twins were around were not a result of bad inside play, i.e. the Morris twins, the losses were a result of KU not making outside shots and the other team making them.

WilburNether 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't think the main issue was that the Morris twins could be physically intimidated. Their problem was that they would occasionally let a player or players from the opponent get under their skin, and goad them into stupid technicals and even ejection. (Another player with a variation of that problem was Sherron Collins. Syracuse was very successful at getting under Collins' skin and letting him take himself out of his -- and the team's -- game, and Northern Iowa read that scouting report, and executed that tactic to perfection.)

Robinson had one such lapse, but seems to have learned from it.

Curtis Stutz 7 years, 10 months ago

Technically KU is still favored, by Vegas anyway. But I don't think these guys would love a complete underdog role so much anyway, they know it's an epic game, where both teams have had Final Four expectations at one point or another. I hope we're willing to put a lot of pressure on the ball, the first step to shutting down Zeller in the post is hounding the ball handlers so they have a hard time getting it to him. If Marshall plays I wouldn't mind seeing Self throw in Tharpe to press hard and put him to the test, saving EJ and TT's legs a bit and possible fouls. If he plays and is basically one handed Tharpe will expose him. UNC had a whole lot of ugly turnovers against Ohio, we need to force those too and get ourselves some easy buckets early. Ohio couldn't finish against UNC, they were so undersized and overmatched athletically, but KU will finish just fine if we can get those same type of opportunities.

jayhawker_97 7 years, 10 months ago

TRob, please do not miss those bunnies!!! gotta loose those muscles first. and please let the guards dribble the ball. we wish you & team Godspeed!! turn up the heat & hate! rock chalk!!!!

REHawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Regarding T-Rob's success with the bunnies, I think the refs have lots to do with his makes or misses. Usually, there are at least two, often 3 sets of hands, forearms and elbows, not to mention knees and hips affecting his shots.

stm62 7 years, 10 months ago

Overcoming nervousness, timidity and hitting shots is part of toughness. Lets hope the Jayhawks can exhibit the focused intensity they showed the last time they played the Tarheels.

fansincewilt 7 years, 10 months ago

This game will stir a lot of memories for some Jayhawks. Some will remember the day when we destroyed them in San Antonio. Others will remember Williams saying that he would never leave Kansas only to do so a couple of years later. Williams doesn't want to come back to Kansas with his Carolina team, not because of reasons given, but simply because he remembers letting a whole lot of people down in Kansas land. Most have let him take a moment of weakness and continue his life. Some still hold him to a higher standard. Wherever you are on the issue, this will be an emotional game. I expect our Jayhawks to come out and play with an intensity that the Tar Heels will not be able to match. I might be wrong. We have to go to Missouri to do fight this battle, but let's get it done anyway. So, who is using the term "arch-rivalry?"

PamB700 7 years, 10 months ago

Like you, I've been a fan for a very long time. Almost 47 years!! I lucked into some tickets to today's game and have been saving my "I agree with Roy, I don't give a sh*t about North Carolina" t-shirt for just such an occasion.

I am so happy about how far this team has come, and how it has come together. It was plain to see in the Purdue game that this team has a ton of intensity and the will to win. I can't wait to cheer them on today!

stm62 7 years, 10 months ago

There's a good article at FOX SPORTS on Coach Self and his decision making process in taking the Kansas job. The Jayhawk faithful owe a special thanks to Bill's father.

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 10 months ago

Bill talked about that in his book "At Home in the Phog"..

chriz 7 years, 10 months ago

Since when does Bill Self not know how to work a room? The author of that article makes it seem like Self isn't even close to Roy in likeability. I completely disagree. I prefer Bill Self's personality over Roy's any day of the week. In fact, Self ought to train the Chiefs' PR department in media relations. He's so good at making you feel like he's sharing his tricks of the trade. And who doesn't like the guy?! (Except the coach from the school that Self stole Kevin Young from...)

mandomax 7 years, 10 months ago

any chance that KU could come out in red for this game?

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 10 months ago

I hope not. I will forever associate the blue uniforms with winning because of 2008. And I have never liked the red ones. We aren't Nebraska or Ohio State, and that's what they make me think of.

Kit Duncan 7 years, 10 months ago

Don't forget 1988's team wore blue also!

Jeff Hargate 7 years, 10 months ago

I thought the same thing. Just something different to take the tension off and play with a free mind.

Alohahawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Recruiting update: just announced that Shabazz Muhammad plans to announce on April 10th, and Tony Parker will announce on April 11th. I would have preferred the dates reversed. If Muhammad picks UCLA, it might propel Parker into selecting UCLA. I still think it's between KU and UCLA for TP. I've doubted SM would choose KU for some time.

ironhead80 7 years, 10 months ago

Just been reading somethings about Tony Parker and seems like to me he is looking for Shabazz to make a move first which he needs to be his own man and decide. Tony looks like he might be a little lazy type player, the built in motor is not there. I would pass on him, he thinks he is a one and done guy.

Robert Brock 7 years, 10 months ago

Even if he's one and done, that may fit fine next year. KU needs as much firepower as it can get with the losses of TRob and Taylor. That would be quite the lineup of bigs with Withey, Parker and Ellis. My guess is he'll still go elsewhere.

mojayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

To beat UNC, it will be another Big 10 type game.

Billy Derringer 7 years, 10 months ago

im bored with keeping up on other recruits, i think were pretty set for next year..Jayhawks just go out there an be you,be aggressive, play to win, gonna need to land some haymakers in this one, be able to take a punch aswell. this is why you come to kansas to play this game its your second chance in a row to get to the final 4. Now is the time to take whats yours......"history".

John Mueller 7 years, 10 months ago

I have two thoughts for TRob for this afternoon:

  1. You are not a point guard. If you want to keep playing, you need to value possessions and give the ball to either of your terrific, athletic guards. No more turnovers on a ridiculous attempt at coast to coast. Stupid, arrogant plays, son.

  2. I know your legs get tired, but at least hit the rim on your free throws. That clanker the other night late in the ballgame does not demonstrate somebody who wants to win. That is just terrible concentration. Just terrible. You looked like somebody completely devoid of hand eye coordination. I know you can't shoot 100%, but u ought to hit the rim 100% of the time. Unacceptable.

Love your character, love your effort, love your contribution.

But, it is time to play your best game as a Jayhawk. Nothing less is acceptable in the biggest game of your career. Step up, son.

SadieJayhawkins 7 years, 10 months ago

Wow, I'll bet your kids are scared about showing you their SAT scores! :) Seriously though... I agree... he's a great kid who has been through so much loss and sadness and I want him to leave Kansas with a ring.

Mark Boline 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm 100% on board with #1. Trying to bring the ball up is fun to watch in a won game, but any other time has me screaming in frustration.

Number 2 is tough. Let's hope the experience will allow him to perform better if he's in the same situation again.

jayhawkinATL 7 years, 10 months ago

All I know (and the the 'hawks should too) is that if we come out and play like we did against Purdue and NCSU, we're going to have a flashback to the 2008 KU-UNC game, except from the other perspective.

dylans 7 years, 10 months ago

But If North Carolina turns the ball over 24 times the result should be similar to 2008. That's why they play the game!

jayhawkinATL 7 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, if anyone shouldn't be overlooking anybody, it's TT! He needs to break out today!

Robert Brock 7 years, 10 months ago

Robinson and Withey need to be focused, refrain from putting the ball on the floor, and definitely avoid foul trouble (and riding the pine) or the Hawks will get blown out. I cannot imagine our perimeter guys stroking easy shots, so our bigs are essential.

Calm down and just play, Jayhawks!

SDSurferFan 7 years, 10 months ago

Not going to happen today: 11/20 fts, 1/14 from 3, missed lay ups.

Concentration level higher. Team will play looser.

A teary eyed press conf from Roy at 7pm or so would be nice to watch.

jayhawkinATL 7 years, 10 months ago

I like Roy, but wouldn't mind seeing him cry today either.

FLJHK 7 years, 10 months ago

Coach Self's comments are, as always, the epitome of class. We are so fortunate to have him. At this point in history, he is the best at his craft.

But due credit is also appropriate for Coaches Brown and Williams. We have been on an amazing run for more than 25 years now. We are relevant, a part of the equation every year. This stuff just doesn't happen. We are truly blessed to be Jayhawks.

actorman 7 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely. Having been a student when KU had its last two losing seasons (and having never gotten to experience a single Big 8 championship as a student), I don't take any of this for granted. Regardless of what happens today, we are truly blessed as Jayhawk fans to get to go through this excitement (and torture) every year.

I've never been able to understand how any of these guys can deal with the pressure and scruitny as well as they do, but I sure hope they're able to deal with it better than they have the last two games. No one questions Tyshawn's and TRob's desire to win; in fact I think the danger is them wanting it too much. It would be great if they could just relax and play and have fun and try to let go of playing for the result. The thing that scares me the most is what happens if the game comes down to free throws. If that happens, it's hard to have a lot of confidence in anyone on the team (except perhaps Withey) at this point.

I'm so nervous myself I can hardly stand it. I just hope the players are able to deal with it better than I am.

FLJHK 7 years, 10 months ago

Some predictions:

They'll say KU is lucky to have made it this far. We've played nothing but low seeds, have played nervous and shot horribly. Tough to really argue, but I'm fine with ugly wins.

After today, when KU dismantles UNC something like 81-69 by holding their own on the boards, Releford disrupting Barnes, and hounding UNC's backcourt with the dazzling quickness of TT and EJ, they'll say it was only due to Marshall's injury, that sans that KU would have gone down. Well, OK, on paper it does seem that UNC has more players.

We'll head to the Final Rour against Ohio State as a 6 point dog. Finally they'll say, KU will face a great team playing well. They'll dismiss our earlier victory as due to Sullinger's absence. But in a Big 10-type game, Kansas will out Big-10 'em, and pull out an ugly win about 68-65. Sullinger will be roughed up, Craft will think he just saw lightening strike, and KU wins ugly once again.

But then, of course, we run into the inevitable Kentucky buzzsaw. UK will be a solid favorite, and will be touted as one of the most talented, though young, teams in NCAA history. But in a surprise move, KU will play UK ball in the first half, will run with them and show rare offensive capability. It will be reminiscent of 1988. In the second half KU will tighten the screws defensively, the UK freshman will finally wilt under the pressure of the moment, and Coach Self will outwit Coach Cal once again. And the trophy will come to its rightful home.

Some will still call it ugly. We'll call it beautiful.

Rock Chalk!

actorman 7 years, 10 months ago

I like it, FLHJK! And if all of that comes to pass, I will also win the bracket pool, so I'll REALLY like it!

The only thing you left off was the final score of the title game: 83-79.

actorman 7 years, 10 months ago

And of course the halftime score: 50-50.

FLJHK 7 years, 10 months ago

Yes, I certainly remember those scores. And I LOVE your brackets!

Tony Bandle 7 years, 10 months ago

FLJHK, whatever you had for breakfast, I'll take a double serving :)

FLJHK 7 years, 10 months ago

Oak, not sure you want that. As an old fart, I have a couple of tasty breakfast items then some blood pressure and cholesterol medicine, plus a handful of vitamins to balance everthing out :)

REHawk 7 years, 10 months ago

In a perfect Jayhawk World, T-Rob, Ty and Conner go to bed tonight with 2 more games on their Kansas career horizons.

actorman 7 years, 10 months ago

Well said, REHawk. One minor caveat: you mean they go to bed tonight with 2 more WINS on their Kansas career horizons.

KEITHMILES05 7 years, 10 months ago

Disappointed Taylor running his mouth about the FF and happy TRob called him out. TT needs to stay focused and that is and has been his problem entire time at KU. Just STFU and play today Ty!

Martin Rosenblum 7 years, 10 months ago

Was the "Arch" reference and the "Heels" reference in the same headline supposed to be some attempt at some sort of journalism humor? Or, does somebody at LJW have a foot thing going on?

corvuscorax 7 years, 10 months ago

aside: I like Baylor today. Suit up RG3.

KansasComet 7 years, 10 months ago

Another Elite 8 game for Kansas! So happy the Jayhawks have made it this far. Maybe us fans can appreciate it from now on in stead of expecting it. After this season, I know I will!

corvuscorax 7 years, 10 months ago

One more thing.....been waiting all year to see TRob operate on offense one-on-one. 'Till then, just make 'em pay for the double-up. RC.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 10 months ago

Signs that I have crossed the line between fan and fanatic:

1] I will don my Kansas shirt and shorts, unwashed since the Detroit game, currently with a 3-0 record.

2] I have my good luck neon "KANSAS" bar sign burning brightly in the middle of the day.

3] I prayed to the Native American weather gods to have clear skies in St.Louis..KU never loses on a nice day.

4] I will sit in the same spot in the man cave with all pillows in their original positions, having returned them from where they landed after I threw them at the television.

5] I have already posted a repeat of my previous two halftime posts regretting the loss of that game and thanking the team for a really fun year.

6] I've turned my Roy Williams bobblehead doll upside down, similar to what I did in 2008. [No, it's not in a toilet bowl!!!]

With these perfectly rational, can't-miss rituals, I have done everything I can to help the Hawks persevere and triumph.

Martin Rosenblum 7 years, 10 months ago

I know everybody will join me in thanking you for your efforts. Did you happen to see a grey haired man with glasses and wearing a powder blue shirt spitting into the river there in St. Louis?

Eric J. Baker 7 years, 10 months ago

I just want to point out the the "Arch Rivalry" is what Illinois and Mizzou call their rivalry, since they play the game in St. Louis.

skijamin 7 years, 10 months ago

An open letter to our beloved Jayhawks:

Dear Kansas Players,

I write this letter in behalf of Jayhawk Nation. We are so proud of each one of you and what you have accomplished as a team this season. You have far surpassed everbody's expectations from the preseason. From Thomas Robinson's 'Player of the Year' breakout, to Tyshawn Taylor's maturation into one of the premier guards in the nation, to Jeff Withey's defensive player of the year accolades, to Elijah Johnson's late game poise and Travis Releford's stifling perimeter defense, to Ben McClemore's and Jamari Traylor's work on the scout team and everyone else who has far out-performed your individual expectations this season, we thank you. Not only have you played better as individuals than anyone could have hoped, you have also brought your talents together to make a whole greater than the sum of your parts. You now have a 30-win season, another Big XII regular season championship, and an appearance in the elite eight. Now, all you need to do, is go out and have fun. Regardless of today's outcome, you have proven yourselves greater than we, Jayhawk Nation, had ever thought possible. We are proud of all you have accomplished and will remember this season with pride and happiness. So get out there tonight and have fun and play so that no matter what, you will have no regrets come tomorrow. You make us proud,


WilburNether 7 years, 10 months ago

"Travis Releford's stifling perimeter defense..."

You're joking, right?

Alohahawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Yawn. Just another rebuilding year at KU. NOT!!!! 31 wins - 6 loses. And counting. Final Four. National honors on and off the court.

Forget the pundits proclaiming KU is lucky, because N. Carolina wasn't at full strength. One must also consider that KU had to play the entire season without two players (McClemore and Traylor) who would have contributed a ton of minutes.

Congratulations team and staff. Unbelievable win.

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