Freshman Robinson Rises to the Occasion

Nov. 10, 2009


Each of the Kansas freshmen will fill in a certain piece of the basketball puzzle, but freshman forward Thomas Robinson may be a larger piece of the equation than most expected. The 6-foot-9 Robinson continues to show strong post moves down low to go along with his never-ending motor around the hoop.

The impressive freshman rounded up 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 23 minutes in KU’s 103-45 exhibition victory Tuesday night.

“I thought he played with a pretty good motor tonight,” head coach Bill Self said. “He can run, he’s strong, he keeps balls alive, and he’s got a nice touch on the ball.”

Self said that Robinson isn’t as tall as other prototypical power forwards, but the best thing about Robinson is that he was active.

“When he is active, good things will happen,” Self said.

In the blowout victory over the Gorillas, Robinson provided one exciting play after another.

The first of Robinson’s highlight-worthy plays came after sophomore Tyshawn Taylor’s no-look pass to a streaking Marcus Morris. This got the crowd on its feet as Morris finished the play by soaring over the Pittsburg State defender, drawing the foul and slamming it home.

Robinson showed off a little bit of athleticism to get the crowd even more riled up after Morris’ dunk. Following Morris’ dunk, Robinson took a steal and threw down a one-handed dunk, making it two impressive dunks in a row for the potent Jayhawk offense.

Robinson said that the part of his game that he thought was furthest along with was his athleticism to the basket and rebounding.

“If I bring energy, I see that it picks my teammates up, especially the bigs,” Robinson said. “They know things that I don’t know and they just know the game better, but if I bring energy mixed with that, I don’t think anybody can compete with that.”

Following the game, Self said that the whole freshmen class was better than he thought they’d be. He knew Xavier (Henry) would be a great prospect, but was impressed with improvement from both (Elijah) Johnson and Robinson since arriving in Lawrence.

“I don’t know if everybody thought that Thomas and Elijah would be the players that they are this early in their careers.”

The basketball aptitude paired with his extreme athleticism will earn Robinson solid minutes on the floor for the No. 1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks during the 2009-10 season.

“[Assistant Coach] Danny (Manning) has done a good job with him as he has all our big guys, but he has improved a lot,” Self said. “He’s like a sponge and he needs a lot of reps, but he is soaking everything up pretty good right now.”

On Robinson’s last dunk of the night, he showed his athleticism once again by throwing down another dunk, receiving another loud reaction from the crowd. Robinson called it a “rookie mistake” as he unfortunately may have had too much enthusiasm in the dunk, drawing a technical foul for hanging on the rim too long.

With the technical foul aside, Robinson said he felt that the two exhibition games were a pretty good feeling for what the season would be like.

“It was good to have another week to prepare,” said Robinson. “Also, it was good to get the first game under my belt, to get in front of the crowd for the first time; I got it out of my system. I guess you could say the jitterbugs are gone.”

Robinson and the Jayhawks will open up the regular season against Hofstra on Friday, Nov. 13, in Allen Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.