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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thomas Robinson eager to make season debut against Fort Hays State

Kansas projected starters Tyshawn Taylor, left, Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson watch warm-ups prior to KU's game against Pittsburg State on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Taylor and Johnson were suspended; Robinson is nursing an injury.

Kansas projected starters Tyshawn Taylor, left, Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson watch warm-ups prior to KU's game against Pittsburg State on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Taylor and Johnson were suspended; Robinson is nursing an injury.

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Thomas Robinson didn’t feel comfortable wearing a shirt, vest and jeans — in lieu of his Kansas University jersey No. 0 — to Tuesday’s exhibition basketball game against Pittsburg State.

“It definitely was hard for me to watch. I can’t go in a gym without playing,” said Robinson, relegated to cheerleading duty in casual attire because of a hyperextended left knee.

“I was more on my feet for the first half of the game than me being mad about not playing,” added the 6-foot-10, 237-pound junior power forward, who had a lot to applaud in the second half of KU’s 84-55 victory.

Still not 100 percent, Robinson nonetheless will be available for duty in exhibition game No. 2, today’s 7 p.m. home contest against Fort Hays State.

“I could have played last week. I practiced two days after it happened. I just didn’t feel it was right to play. It was bruised. I didn’t feel it was smart to rush it,” said Robinson.

He was injured at practice on Oct. 27, when he ran into teammate Travis Releford while retrieving a cross-court pass in a scrimmage situation.

Robinson at first feared the injury was serious.

“It was scary, real scary. It was more of a panic attack on my part more than anything else,” Robinson said. “Two seconds after, I started panicking. If I hear anything make a noise (in knee), I’m going to panic, but I’m all right. It was my first scare here, hopefully the last one.”

KU coach Bill Self said Robinson has been practicing, thus is able to play during the game.

“He’s probably 90 percent. He’s wearing a brace, and the training staff says that he should be OK,” Self said. “We’re probably going to keep him in the brace a little bit longer. I think he needs to get out there. He needs the reps, too. He needs to see the ball go in the hole.

“It’ll be nice to have Thomas in there so we can kind of see how things are going to play out with having our best presence in there.”

KU junior center Jeff Withey hasn’t missed any practice time since suffering a left ankle sprain in the first half of the Pitt State game — the exhibition in which he had a triple-double (18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks)

“I’ve been getting a lot of treatment. Our training staff has gotten it down a lot from what it was. It’s black and blue now, but I’m practicing. There are no excuses,” Withey said.

He’s elated that Robinson will join him in the frontcourt tonight.

“We’ve got one of our best rebounders back. Things will go smoother, I feel, with Thomas back,” Withey said. “They (opponents) will be looking at him, probably double-teaming him. It will be easier for me to get offensive rebounds. They’ll be focused on boxing him out. Maybe I can slip in there and get extra rebounds. It will make my job easier with him back.”

Robinson also likes the idea of a 7-footer patrolling the paint.

“I’m going to need him more than anything this year so he can take the load off me,” Robinson said of Withey. “Justin (Wesley) and Kevin (Young) are going to need to come in and give us good minutes. Really, no one can afford to slack off, so I expect their best every night.”

Guards Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, who are serving two-game suspensions, will miss the game, meaning freshman Naadir Tharpe could play 30-plus minutes again.

Tharpe had eight assists and nine turnovers to go with 12 points in his KU debut.

“Definitely my turnovers I need to improve on and being much more of a general out there, talking much more on court,” Tharpe said. “Even though I’m a freshman, with Tyshawn and Elijah not being able to play, I need to step up to the plate. I’m going to have to be able to lead the team much better than I did in the first game.”

KU coach Self is seeking continued progress.

“I’d like to see our newcomers maybe play less tight,” he said. “Naadir (Tharpe) was tight the other day, Justin (Wesley) was tight, and Kevin (Young) was tight. I’d like to see those guys maybe play a little looser so we can see what they can do. I just want to see total improvement. I don’t think anybody played that well the other day. Statistically we were fine, other than turnovers (23). We need to do a much better job.”

KU will open for real on Friday against Towson. Tipoff for that game is also 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse.

Comments

manginorh00lz 10 years, 6 months ago

Just don't push it too hard. Remember, this game doesn't count.

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 6 months ago

Exactly right. What a disaster that would be.

Scott MacWilliams 10 years, 6 months ago

Hey TRob, Yes, we know how much you want to be out there every possible second, and it will help you to get back in the flow. But don't push it, listen to your knee on this and coast when you need to. Yeah, like no one else has already told you...

Just do what the coaches say, and everything will be good. We're ALL pulling for you to have a great season!!

ROCK CHALK!!

dylans 10 years, 6 months ago

He is listening to his knee and it is saying, "Go pro before I blow." TRob's future was in doubt for a brief second (in his mind) and I'm sure that was the final straw for any possibility of Thomas coming back.

Jonathan Andrews 10 years, 6 months ago

^

Sounds to me as though T-Rob isn't rushing anything. If he's been practicing for a week, and HCBS says he's 90%, I'd say he's OK.

Now, Withey is another story. I'm more concerned about his status, since his ankle is still bruised a week after he rolled it. No missed practice, but we can't afford for this to become a lingering issue.

Here's hoping for a little more certainty in winning tonight's game. Dub 'em!

Brian Powell 10 years, 6 months ago

I was thinking the same thing about Withey..

Michael Bratisax 10 years, 6 months ago

Even if 90%..why take the chance? Same with Withey. With a thin bench, especially at the post, we cannot afford to lose anyone in a game that doesn't count.

hawk316 10 years, 6 months ago

With TRob getting most of the attention this year, Withey's presence could be huge for us. Offensive rebounds and garbage baskets galore for the big man! Young and Wesley could also benefit for the same reason. TRob is obviously the key, but as good as he is, it is imperative that he stays on the court. No foolish fouls, TRob!

REHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Play smart, Thomas. If that knee bothers you or generates stressful overcompensation on your other leg, speak to the trainers and let coach know. A long season lies ahead, and this squad needs you near 100%. I look forward to the progress of Naadir, Justin, Kevin and the other newcomers. Hope to see Conner targeting a high percentage of his 3s again. And Jordan, lay some quality Jayhawk defense on your Fort Hays buddy!

Mike Kendall 10 years, 6 months ago

I would love to see a small guard from Ft. Hays try to go through Withey and Robinson---LOL. Get that _out of my neighborhood. Good luck with the season, T-Rob! Rock Chalk.

phi4life940 10 years, 6 months ago

Other than his 7 turnovers in the first half, Naadir played well last week. I'm excited to see him get better tonight. With Tyshawn and EJ being out for these exhibition games, it's been a blessing in disguise because Naadir will benefit way more by playing in them then TT and EJ would.

Rock Chalk. Let's get ready! Kentucky in about a week!!!!!

HawkKlaw 10 years, 6 months ago

Me too! This experience is extremely valuable for a guy like Naadir. It's going to be great watching him get better and better over these next four years.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

"Self Knows Best, But..."

Self playing TRob tonight probably means that the injury is going to nag him for the rest of the season, something he and the team are going to have to play with. Otherwise, he would he would rest TRob until a game that counted for a W.

Self knows best, but I think it is strategically and tactically illogical and foolish to risk an aircraft carrier, especially one with a potentially chronic knee injury, for anything less than a W that counts.

Tune up TRob and the team up against Towson.

If we had depth, I would agree to play him in the exhibition. We don', so I don't, even if he and the team have to learn to play with the injury.

In a season like this, if there is no W to be had, fuggedaboutit.

Nothing is more important than getting our lone aircraft carrier to 100%, or as nearly there as possible, and as fully operational as possible.

Some are expendable outside decisive battles. Others are not. He is not.

The strategy with TRob the entire season probably won't be, but IMHO ought to be: hide, protect, attack, hide, protect, attack.

Until the conference tourney, he should never play a minute of a game where he is not absolutely needed.

The team has one chance to compete for a conference title and an NCAA ring--TRob being as healthy as possible for as much of the time as possible.

You could always sit him on the bench for the entire season of course, but that would be illogical too, because he is needed in every decisive situation for this team to have its best shot at winning.

But the key operant word here is "decisive."

And just because we are thin, does not mean we aren't playing for a title and a ring, or just ring. We're still playing for a ring, because we have 4-6 Final Four grade players.

HawkKlaw 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree with you Jaybate. There is really no good reason to have TRob out there tonight.

That said, I don't think TRob is all that injured. Self said he's 90%, which is probably a conservative figure. Sure, Self should be careful with his #1 aircraft carrier, but TRob is the toughest kid in the nation. I think he could have played last week if it was a game that mattered. I bet, more than anything, TRob is going to be on the court tonight because he told HCBS that he wants to play. Bill Self knows the risk. TRob said himself, "I can’t go in a gym without playing." I think he just won't take "no" for an answer from Self.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

The strategic problem facing Self is how to get those 4-6 players to that time of the season with a bid, any bid, in tact as healthy as possible.

Nothing is more important than resting TRob, and protecting him and constantly pulling him out of harm's way until the moment of going for the kill.

For he is a good ship sailing into harm's way in today's game of XTReme Basketball; that is a given.

Every other player on the team we have just enough talent to mask an injury of for brief stretches, even against good teams. But not TRob.

We have one and a half carriers, maybe two if Withey pans out. Period. No more, till next season.

Therefore we don't care about getting blow out wins this season. We don't care about getting a first seed. All we care about is getting a seed, any seed. With 4-6 guys of this quality and this much experience and physical maturity, we can live with a 64th seed. We just have to get a seed with them healthy.

Our goal should be 23-25 wins by an average of 5 points or less, with everyone healthy in March. Nothing else matters.

In fact, anytime we have a chance for a blow out, substitute reserves until it is not a blowout.

We just want Ws, where ever we can get them.

Our reserves should be playing huge minutes, not so much to improve them, but to minimize our starter's wear and tear and injury exposure.

It is a myth that playing green wood a lot develops it to a useful level sooner. The game is 90 percent mental and 90 percent physical. :-) Players cannot be developed into good D1 players before they are physically and emotionally ready for the roles assigned. Self can play young players, as he played Marcus as a freshman, and mask their deficiencies, by narrowing their job descriptions to defending their man and maybe doing just one other thing, but at the end of the season, Marcus, and he was a very talented player, was still at most a well-masked weakness as a freshman. You play players before their time, not to make competent players of them, but to get what little you can get out of them, hopefully without wrecking them emotionally. But i digress.

The point is: any time TRob can sit, he should sit, no matter how much fall off in talent there is.

Always, always always, expose his backups to injury rather than him.

We don't need Thomas to vastly improve. We just need what he can bring, when it is decisive. The rest would be gravy and sometimes you can't afford gravy, so you don't make any.

(Note: I'm mixing metaphors here to annoy people out of their conventional thinking that will surely kill this team's slim, but very real chances at greatness. And this team can be a great one, if it doesn't waste itself trying to be good.)

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

One great aircraft carrier can decide any battle against even a huge fleet, if it has an element of surprise on its side, plus some luck and a great day doing what it does best.

Ask Danny Manning.

(And note, if TRob were a senior playing back in '88, I would have put a saddle on him for 40 minutes every game, too. But as a junior who has not started and carried the load in the XTReme era, I would not have even saddled Danny Manning with that burden. Different eras, different ways it must be played.)

Self absolutely should not use TRob the way Self used Simien in his Elite Eight run. Simien was much farther along in his game than TRob is. Simien was probably a more gifted athletes than TRob. Simien was a much better shooter and free throw shooter. TRob needs a season to develop his game to where he is a player capable of playing 35 minutes of carry the team.

Self's experience with Aldrich is also going to make Self want to use TRob the way he used Aldrich his first season. But again, there is no one on the bench to go to once TRob gets his nose splattered, or cheek bone cracked. Though there is a committee on the perimeter that might like Collins to carry the mail, while he plays through the injury, as Aldrich did. But we don't want him to have to do that.

The goal then has to be to shield TRob from injury, not be suckered into the man-a-mano, grind-it-out dead end of trench warfare.

High mobility, unpredictable placement, and ambush basketball should be the coin of the realm.

Playing TRob 35 mpg will likely steal one win from the early blue blood programs. It will ice a number of wins against the lesser clubs we are evenly matched against, and make the W&L look pretty good, while TRob remains uninjured. But at 35mpg, that the injury will come is a foregone conclusion. The fact is: it has already come. It is the injury cascade from the knee injury that now has to be avoided at all cost.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

Whenever TRob is in, KU should (if TRob can shoot 70% FTs) play through him as much as he played through Simien, but not by setting him up stationary and predictably on the blocks, not in the age of XTReme Muscle and XTReme Cheap Shotting; that is suicide, even though TRob is big enough to play that game...for awhile.

Again, Self should try to sit TRob as much as possible and constantly bring him into get key baskets on series of scripted plays for four or five trips. Get the lead. Then sit. Screw maintaining momentum. Screw letting him and the team get comfortable and in a groove. Ambush basketball is their groove. Intermittency is their rhythm. Get the team thinking like a band of hardened, savvy guerillas. Get them to believe in orchestrating momentum back and forth. Get them to believe that retreat is as good as attack. Because retreat is how you overextend a big, over powering enemy into being ready to be attacked.

If Self were to do what I am suggesting, then he would minimize TRobs short comings--foul prone and not a good foul shooter.

Get a lead with TRob, sit him and play the subs. Get a lead with TRob, sit him and play the subs.

If he plays TRob all the time, as he says he will, TRob will foul and get injured, because opponents will foul him and injure him with double and triple teams every game.

The key until tournament time is to use TRob the way Nimitz used the carriers early in WWII.

Use them for ambushes...hope to get lucky with a knock out ambush.

He can take some hits, but they have to be for knock outs, or reversing a tide. He can't take any useless hits.

Hide the carrier. Mask it. Never meet the enemy with the enemy having foreknowledge of the exact location of the carrier.

Always keep the carrier hidden and just out of striking range until you decide to attack, then...

Ambush. Ambush. Ambush.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

Treat this team like what it is--a small group of highly skilled and athletic and talented players with one aircraft carrier meeting some giant fleets early on.

Go for the jugular in an ambush, don't amass your entire force and engage in any war-of-attrition/grind-it-out action with any one until tournament time.

Self has to relearn something he has probably already forgotten, because of how much talent he has had for six years, and how much success he has had with two gambles on Simien and Aldrich during slightly lean seasons.

Protect. Protect. Protect.

This team must defend, protect the ball, and protect its carrier.

To resort to another military metaphor, it is a guerrilla army until tournament time, when it amasses what force it has and goes for the overthrow with a hot hand, some luck and maybe a help out by someone knocking out a giant or two from their path.

But Self's will likely be a prisoner of his own experience, as I've already suggested. He saved his butt by letting Simien carry the team early in his KU tenure, and since talent is the thinnest it has been since then, and since the schedule contains a flock of big fleets early, fear of blow outs may drive him to drag games into grind it outs and play TRob 35mpg. Doing this will set a precedent for the season and almost certainly expose TRob to injuries that will sink first TRob, and then the team.

The game has changed dramatically, since Siemien played. XTReme Muscle and XTReme Cheap Shotting are the rule now, not the exception they once were. This is why you do not play grind-it-out, or up and down with one aircraft carrier for extended minutes. You have to play ambush basketball. Its the only way to maximize your chances of having a healthy team come tourney time.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

Ambush basketball also enables you to get your green wood and modestly talented backups lots of experience that they will need merely to be not awful, come March, when they will fill for much shorter times. once you commence a more conventional style of play come March.

Until March, TRob needs to constantly be surprising places on the floor. The only time he should start out on the blocks in a power play is at go for the kill time in the game.

If the opponent cannot tell where he will be, if he spends a minimum amount of time standing on a block where the designated foulers and cheap shooters can set up to get him, the more chance Self have to keep him out of harm's way and off the foul line without a decent shot before the foul.

IMHO, the last thing KU wants is TRob going to the line without getting a decent look. Self has EJ and Conner that can ding treys at 40% plus. I believe TT will achieve that level with a healed shooting hand. Frankly, Travis may, too.

This many 40% trey shooters on the perimeter mean that KU gets 1.2 points for each trey attempt.

TRob going to the line without a made basket and shooting 50% on two FTs gets KU 1.0 points; this means contrary to popular opinion, he needs to be kept away shooting anything but high percentage shots he can make while being fouled, else a trey attempt would be more productive.

If Withey proves to shoot FTs as poorly as TRob has, then he needs to be kept away from the ball except in the same instances, too.

Lute Olsen, though I despised him, proved that with three sharp shooting perimeter players that could also put it on the deck and get to the rim, the way to win a ring was to relegate your bigs to defense, rebounding and follows.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

Self needs to pay heed to this statistical reality, even though he likes playing through bigs, and even though he has a potentially exceptional one in TRob. Cole Aldrich and Wayne Simien were hall of fame FT shooters in comparison to TRob and Jeff Withey. Accept reality. TRob and Withey could become positively devastating as defenders, swatters and rebounders that don't initiate all that often and so avoid the offensive fouls that get them nothing but even more time you have to protect them.

Play through your perimeter Bill. Follow through your bigs. Dominate the defensive end of the floor with your bigs.

The following needs to be taped on the team bulletin board: Ambush basketball on offense till March, maybe even through March if they learn how to do it well.

Unless this team is XTReme conditioned the way Shaka Smart's VCU team was, and unless Self can constantly keep TRob moving out of harms way every minute he is on the floor for long stretches, injury cometh, and this team goes .500 or less.

Use TRob as a hit and run weapon of decisive force.

Milk as many minutes out of Withey's swatting and altering as possible.

Get a lead. Sit TRob.

Get a lead. Sit TRob.

Go for the kill. Play TRob.

Repeat.

The colonists won playing this way in the French and Indian War.

George Washington won playing this way in the Revolutionary War.

Nimitz repelled a 200 ship flotilla steaming to take Midway with only four aircraft carriers and a busted code playing this way.

Mao won playing this way.

Fidel won playing this way.

Ho Chi Minh won playing this way.

The Afghans beat the USSR and have stalemated the USA playing this way.

The Iraqis have hung on so long that Obama and the Pentagon have finally apparently just declared victory in order to retreat the troops to a stronger position elsewhere.

KU can play this way until March, before amassing forces for a decisive victory.

Lots of small unconventional victories are better than a few conventional ones coming before the decisive battle.

Rock Chalk!

ParisHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Small point: drawing fouls early gets the whole team in the bonus. TRob has always drawn lots of fouls, according to formerly free kenpom.com. So try to go through him early in each half and see how the refs call the game.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

Parishawk,

You are right about the virtues of using TRob to draw fouls early.

And Self almost certainly will not develop a strategy like the one I advocate. It is for better (probably), or worse (probably not), not his way.

He will Okie Ball this thing all the way. And that means playing it straight up--70 point take what they give us.

What I am talking about is dictating the strategy and tactics of a game to a great extent.

Self has won 84% of his games playing 70 point take what they give us, and he's not going to stop now.

Frankly this style of play was born out of necessity, back when the Okies never had the best talent.

But I can wish, can't I? :-)

Darrel Stice 10 years, 6 months ago

Original article total words - 776 Jaybate post total words - 2,734

Jaybate seems very intelligent and obviously has a high basketball IQ, but jeez! Which do you think he's gunning for, a coaching job or a writing job??

Just sayin...

Rock Chalk!!

Sally Presson 10 years, 6 months ago

T-Rob, can't tell you enough how thankful we are you're back. tyshawn, can't tell you enough how disappointed we are in your behavior. You're "suppose" to be our leader and you get benched for the first 2 games?!!! Come on now, get a grip, not cool to do something stupid, you did that your first 2 years here, now it's time to be a big boy and give us all you got. It's your year to shine--come on Tyshawn!!! Naadir, you did a great job at the last game, I know too many turnovers, but you'll get that under control, see you tonight!!! Looking forward to seeing you guys

cool_beans 10 years, 6 months ago

time for him to show the world why he's a lottery pick

sm5561 10 years, 6 months ago

“Justin (Wesley) and Kevin (Young) are going to need to come in and give us good minutes. Really, no one can afford to slack off, so I expect their best every night.” -Thomas Robinson

"I just want to see total improvement. I don’t think anybody played that well the other day. Statistically we were fine, other than turnovers (23). We need to do a much better job." -Bill Self

Accountability??? Expectations??? This is the attitude we need to see from our football coach!!!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 6 months ago

I think he needs to play, even if for only a short while...just take a look at our first five games potentially:

Towson Kentucky Georgetown UCLA [likely] Duke [likely]

Throw in Ohio State and at USC and I don't want to hear any cracks about our "cupcake" schedule.

FarSideHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

That looks more like an NCAA tournament schedule than a season-opening stretch. Although I love the fact that we are playing these tough teams, the thin bench this year makes it a bit scary. Wish the twins were still in uniforms.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

texashawk10 10 years, 6 months ago

USC is going to be crap this year, FAU and LBSU will be tougher games than USC. Jio Fontan tore his ACL and he was their only really good player this year for the Trojans. USC will finish in the bottom 1/4 of the PAC 12 this year. I'm also not going to say that playing Duke is likely at this point. They may well be the most talented team, but Memphis and Michigan are staring them in the face in the next round and both are capable of beating Duke. The only late round prediction I'm comfortable with making about Maui is that Tennessee and Chaminade will be the 7th-8th place game and Georgetown will be in the 5th-6th place game. No results between Duke, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan, or UCLA would shock me as they are all pretty evenly matched teams. Kansas probably has the best player in the tournament, Duke probably has the all-around team, Memphis is probably the most athletic team, Michigan is probably the best shooting team, and UCLA is probably the most physical team in the tournament. You could make a legitimate case for any of those 5 teams winning Maui this year.

KUfaninHouston 10 years, 6 months ago

Hey Folks, Anyone know of online place to watch the game tonight, for those of us out of the Jayhawk network coverage area.

Thanks

shinguard 10 years, 6 months ago

Or a URL where the game will be streamed?

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