Posts Tagged Thomas Robinson

KU can handle Sullinger

Posted on: March 30th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The following is submitted by @HailToOldKU, a KU graduate and contributor to Jayhawk-Talk. He presents a different viewpoint on how Kansas will handle Ohio State’s front court than I did in my game preview here. Enjoy the read and debate on twitter which point is more accurate. Rock Chalk!

Almost two weeks ago, Robbie Hummel lit up Thomas Robinson. Hummel buried seven of his first eight shots en route to a 22-point first half that had Purdue up on the Jayhawks for all but 45 seconds of their second round game. Robinson, who was pulled off Hummel in the first half because he was getting so thoroughly thrashed, even admitted his weakness in guarding the perimeter, saying that Hummel could have gone for 40 on him, no sweat.

Obviously, Hummel didn’t, Kansas came back, and the Jayhawks are now in the Final Four. But there’s still plenty of reason for concern. Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas plays a more inside-out game than Hummel – who essentially lives on the perimeter unless he’s got a favorable size matchup inside – but Thomas is still versatile enough to provide a serious matchup problem for Robinson.

This means a couple things. First, Jeff Withey, just like in the first game against Ohio State (which was, of course, sans Sullinger that day) will play only 20-25 minutes. Because of Robinson’s perimeter struggles, he’ll be forced to take Sullinger on the inside. Obviously Withey isn’t a perimeter defender either, which leaves him as the odd man out. Kevin Young played 24 minutes to Withey’s 21 in December. Expect them to play similar minutes again if Robinson doesn’t show early on that he can hold Thomas defensively.

Of course, if that’s the case, then we get to watch Robinson and Sullinger go head-to-head. I had been thinking for a few days that this wouldn’t happen because of Withey’s recent presence defensively. He’s pretty clearly going to be the guy on Sullinger every possession he’s on the floor, barring Self rolling out that triangle-and-two that was so effective in the second half against both Purdue and North Carolina.*

*This might be a great idea. It lets Withey and Robinson stay on the floor and, if it’s effectiveness against Hummel and Purdue is any indicator, it could nullify to some extent the inside-out dynamic that Thomas lends to the Buckeyes offense. One issue though: All five of Ohio State’s starters hit better than a third of their threes. If that’s not an effective zone breaker than I don’t know what is.

But for the sake of this argument, let’s assume the Jayhawks play man-to-man defense, like they have for 90 percent of the season. And let’s assume that Robinson struggles again to defend the perimeter, forcing him inside to guard Sullinger.

This could actually be a good thing for the Jayhawks.

For one, Kevin Young has developed from an occasionally solid spark off the bench to consistently the Jayhawks’ best bench option (arguably). His best performance of the year came against these same Buckeyes in the first mmeting, when he notched 14 points on eight shots, grabbed four boards and played serviceable defense in 24 minutes. It also gives Kansas a cushion should Sullinger bait Robinson into foul trouble. If Withey’s relegated to the bench, it would mean 40 minutes against either Robinson, whose ferocity on the offensive end negates any deficiencies defensively, or Withey, whose defense keeps opponents up at night. With Ohio State facing the same lack of depth as Kansas – they only go eight deep at most – Sullinger won’t be offered much rest on the floor.

The Jayhawks have already shown they can beat Ohio State without Sullinger on the floor. If they can effectively nullify him, it’s the best chance they have to earn a trip to the national title game.

Self on with Jim Rome

Posted on: January 27th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Here’s a few highlights of the Self interview on the Jim Rome show if you missed it. The questions and responses are paraphrased.

Rome: You lost four starters, yet you’re still atop the Big 12 and ranked in the top 5. How did you overcome those losses and get your guys back up so high?

Self: We went into this season thin. We thought we’d have two other guys, but they were not able to qualify. Our guys have gotten better though. We have a terrific point guard and a terrific big man and that’s a good place to start. Since Christmas, it’s amazing. The light has come on for a lot of our guys. We’re playing with more energy, more freedom, more confidence. I’m pleased with where we’re at. Not necessarily from a record perspective. But from a playing hard perspective.

Rome: (recalled T-Rob’s tragedy last year) then asked “Did you expect him to play at the national player of the year caliber that he is?

Self: T-Rob is playing for an awful lot right now. He’s playing for more than just himself. We knew that if we were going to be good this year, he’d have to play like an All-American. We thought he’d compete for the conference player of the year. He’s done more than that. He is on most everyone’s first team All-American ballot right now.

Rome: After T-Rob’s tragedy, did you make an effort to coach him differently than anyone else?

Self: No. I won’t coach him differently. In fact I may be more hard on him than anyone else in practice, but that’s because he’s our best player. I may talk to him differently when we’re in private. But I won’t coach him differently. He has the ability to go on and play well at the next level. It would be cheating him if I didn’t coach him the same.

Rome: You recently hit the 250 win mark at Kansas. What is the significance of that to you? And what kind of win total would really mean something to you?

Self: None. If you coach somewhere long enough, you should win 250. If I could coach long enough to get up to the 700-800 win point, I think that would matter. 250 is not significant at all.

Rome: Do you ever think about how you’d be as a coach on the next level?

Self: I haven’t really though that. I think that there’s a part of me that would say that could interest me at one point in time, but I’m not thinking that. All I want to do is coach this team as hard as I can.

Rome: How do you manage expectations at KU?

Self: For me, it’s simple. Get our guys to be the best that our guys can be. That’s how I’ll evaluate myself. It’s not a win at all costs kind of thing for me. I want to laugh, I want to enjoy it. I love fixing problems. Expectations have not got to me yet. They may if we have some negative things happen sometime down the road. But not yet.

Rome: I know you’re constantly evaluating yourself. How do you continue to build on the success you have had at KU?

Self: I think our staff is terrific. But I think there’s things we can do better. We want to take success and then build on it. I’m always looking to tweak things to improve. I love to have older coaches come in and evaluate practice and evaluate me on a fairly regular basis. I love doing that and I prefer hearing the criticism over someone saying you’re doing a great job.

Rome: Speaking of old coaches, what do you think Larry Brown is going to do next?

Self:  I think he’d like to coach again. I’ll tell you this. You won’t find a bigger basketball junkie out there. He can’t get enough of it. He’s traveling around now to different campuses and visiting with coaches. He loves the game. Whatever he ends up doing, he won’t stop watching ball.

My thoughts:

Self was a pro. Always is in those kinds of interviews. Smooth talker. Great ambassador. Great exposure on national stage. Wish he’d do more of it.

Family Over Everything (Thomas Robinson ESPN feature video)

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

If you missed this video produced by ESPN this week, please watch it. Just heart-wrenching, but makes you appreciate Thomas and his play this year that much more.

Kansas, Baylor by the numbers

Posted on: January 19th, 2012 by jayhawktalk 1 Comment

Robinson rises for the alley-oop. This eventually goes into the basket for 2 of his 27 points.

By @HailToOldKU

First things first, sorry I’ve gone missing over the last couple games. Kansas wrecked some fools, I have a real job, things got a little hectic. Is what it is. But when Kansas wrecks some highly ranked fools? Time to come back out of the woodwork. No more slacking.

I’m going to break this up a little bit differently than I have been, because putting stats on there for the bench guys would be completely irrelevant. So I’m going to ignore those guys – because Kansas is essentially a 5-man team anyways – and do numbers for the starters, and then some game stats that I thought were the key. Without further ado:

Thomas Robinson: 1 foul
Baylor can run out five guys with the size and ability to frustrate most posts. All of them, except maybe Quincy Acy, are stretch-fours who can get a traditional post into trouble by dragging him out to the perimeter and either drawing fouls or getting by them for a bucket. Robinson did an incredible job of staying out of foul trouble. With the Jayhawks’ lack of depth, he needed to stay on the floor for 30-plus minutes. He played 35. Oh, and he had 27 and 14. Which doesn’t suck.

Tyshawn Taylor: 10 points
I know Taylor finished with 28. The 10 I mention are the 10 that came during KU’s 13-0 run to end the first half. Taylor’s run entering the break gave the Jays all the momentum entering the second half and put his team up a dime at half. He came out and played a brilliant second half, hitting 10 of 14 shots in his most efficient night of the season.

Jeff Withey: 9 offensive boards
This number just makes me laugh. Seriously? NINE? That’s insane! Here’s the best part, though. The Bears, with all their ridiculous length, combined to get eight offensive rebounds as a team. Man, if it weren’t for the fact that Thomas Robinson is the Greek God of Thunderdunking, we’d all be going nuts about how much Withey has improved. As it stands, I’m going nuts about it anyways. He’s the most improved player on the Jayhawks roster by far.

Elijah Johnson:  1 three-pointer attempted
We’re getting dangerously close to having Good Elijah and Bad Elijah nights just like we do with Tyshawn. The bad Elijah isn’t out of control or turnover prone or anything like that, he just jacks up an insane amount of threes with little regard for Bill Self’s offense.  Self’s offense usually works. Let’s just stick with it. Elijah was great Monday because he played within himself, didn’t do too much and let the two best players on the team be the two best players on the team. Johnson has the talent to be the star, but so did Thomas Robinson last year. Sometimes you have to know your spot, and EJ’s is as the third option, at best.  Great night all-around from him, though, as he embraced the role. 11 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, 4-of-7 shooting. Did it all well.

Travis Releford: 36 minutes
Releford had the biggest challenge of any Kansas defender last night. Not because he was guarding the Bears’ best player (that honor went to Withstar who D’d up on PJ3), but because he was outmatched by five inches and didn’t have much, if any, advantage in quickness against freshman Quincy Miller. Miller went for 17 points, but needed 12 shots to do it and only pulled down a couple boards. Releford played the most minutes on the team because he’s as good as it gets defensively for the Jayhawks right now, and he should be an all-conference defender by the time the season ends. Startling how similar Releford’s numbers (11 points, 3 boards, 4 assists, 5-of-7 shooting) were to Johnson’s.

Key Team Numbers

48-34, 39-24, 17-8: The Jayhawks worked Baylor in the paint, outscoring the Bears 48-34 in the lane and outrebounding them 39-24. Withey and Robinson deserve much of the credit. Also, the Jayhawks won 17-8 on second chance points, courtesy of Withey’s nine (seriously! NINE!) offensive boards. Love that number. Baylor has one of the best frontcourts in the country (I’d put them behind Kentucky and North Carolina only), and the Jayhawks shredded them.

114+: I wasn’t in the building, so I don’t know the exact number, but the highest I saw was somewhere over 114 decibels in the Fieldhouse Monday night. I’m going to toot our own horn here for just a minute: The best fans in college sports live in Lawrence, Kansas.

Couple quick thoughts on the Baylor matchup

Posted on: January 16th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Baylor will be in town tonight for a huge Big Monday matchup. I never really get into the “must-win” scenarios this early in the season, but a victory tonight would go a long way for both teams come late February. It will be a huge game, and I expect the Fieldhouse to be rocking.

Some quick thoughts on the matchup:

Baylor’s Length:

We haven’t played a team like this since we played Kentucky. The same Kentucky that gave us fits. Baylor may be the only other team in the country that matches up with the Wildcats from a pure length and athleticism perspective. And Kentucky manhandled us. I know it was close in the first half, but it shouldn’t have been. The good news is that this Kansas team is a much different Kansas team than we saw on November 15. I think we’ll be more prepared for it this time around. The equalizer will be whether we are able to knock down some open shots that we will be able to create by going inside-out.

Perimeter Shooting:

I hate the say it, but I hope Conner doesn’t get a ton of minutes off the bench tonight. He will be such a liability on the defensive end that I don’t think his 2-6 from 3-point range will be worth it. Against most teams, we can cover for Conner with additional help every time he gets blown by. Unfortunately tonight, we’ll need to preserve Thomas and Jeff from foul trouble. That all said, we’ll need to make some perimeter shots and Conner may be our best option. We’ll need Elijah, Travis, and Tyshawn to do better than 29% from three tonight. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for an Elijah coming-out-party.


Tyshawn will be the most important player tonight, as he has been most nights. He was the single reason we didn’t lose to Kentucky by 25 points. He has proven time and time again that he can get by his man at any time he wants. Hopefully tonight he’ll keep attacking. As Self alluded to in his post-game comments after Iowa State, it would be ideal if Taylor penetrates with the idea of passing when he draws help defense. I agree to some extent, but when we have difficulty scoring, he needs to be able to take over much like he did in the second half on Saturday. He can be instant offense when he’s on. We’ll need him to be on tonight.

Foul Trouble:

As awesome as it was, I think we saw an aberration on Saturday when Kansas played great absent Thomas. Throughout the year, we have been better with him on the floor, and tonight we will definitely need his 18 and 12 to win. He’ll need to muscle up and play hard on defense, but be mindful of foul trouble. You have to think Baylor will take it right to him. Likewise, Withey has been a very important player the last few weeks. We’ll need him tonight, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He’ll be able to take up room and deter some penetration. I also put the over-under on his fouls at 4.5…and I’m taking the over. Just hope it’s very late in the game.

Allen Fieldhouse:

This isn’t the same kind of Baylor team we’ve seen before. It is loaded with as much talent as a non-Kansas team has been since I can remember. And they’re not freshman. They’re veteran players that have been around the block. Allen won’t intimidate them at the beginning of the game. It will, however, intimidate them if things don’t start off well. The key for Kansas will be to get off to a good start. I want to see the K-State game, not the Iowa State game. If we give them momentum early, the crowd won’t be quite as stiff and they’ll be able to continue playing their game. If we come out strong, our guys will feed off the crowd and the building. That’s when Baylor could be distracted and see what so many other great teams have seen inside the Fieldhouse — the PHOG.


It has long been said that Baylor Coach Scott Drew is a fantastic recruiter and a very average basketball coach. I don’t necessarily buy into it, because the same has been said before about Bill Self, and John Calipari, and many other great Xs & Os coaches. That all being said, Kansas certainly has the advantage from the bench. I tend to think Drew has stepped away and let his guys play more loose this year. Baylor, like Kentucky, could probably beat 95% of the teams they face without a coach at all. When a team is loaded with talent, the key for a coach is to get his guys to play with the same intensity on defense as they do on offense. Self and Calipari are great at that. We’ll see how good Drew is tonight.


I think it will be a close game throughout. It would not shock me if Kansas lost the game in the end. Baylor is that good. As long as we can make a few open shots and bother Baylor’s guards on the defensive end, I will take KU. Something like KU 71 Baylor 68 sounds about right.

I’ll be in the house. Hope you will be too. Rock Chalk!


KU, OU preview

Posted on: January 7th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Kansas faces Oklahoma today at 1:00 PM in the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, OK. For those looking for the game, it will be televised on ESPNU. Judging by my twitter timeline, it sounds like there will be a few KU fans making the trip south, which is pretty freakin’ awesome.

I think most fans are looking at this game as an easy one considering Missouri recently beat Oklahoma by a ridiculous 38 points. I truly believe that game was an aberration. While Oklahoma certainly struggled against the Tigers, they are still 11-3, and have beat Arkansas and should have beat Cincinnati (outscored late to lose by one point).

Oklahoma plays a similar game to Kansas State. They crash the boards with authority and have better outside shooters than the Wildcats. While the Sooners were picked by Big XII coaches to be tied for last in the league this year, they have surprised some with their good rebounding and perimeter shooting. Should Oklahoma do both of those well, they will hang with this KU team.

Kansas certainly has the edge in the interior. At this point, you can pretty much give Robinson his double-double. What I am looking forward to is seeing whether Withey will maintain the kind of production he had against Kansas State. He played strong, and had a true presence on both ends. If he can find that every game, we are going to be tough to beat.

I’m also looking for Tyshawn to have a really good game. He sounded off on twitter last night, calling out those who criticize him and don’t know how to play basketball. While I’m not that worried about the twitter rant, it would certainly do a lot to quiet his critics with a big game. I think he’ll do it.

As for a prediction, I believe KU wins an ugly matchup. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 72-60. Safe travels to all making the trip, and Rock Chalk!

Thoughts on KU, KSU matchup

Posted on: January 4th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments
Jayhawk huddle

KU team will be ready tonight

Kansas will face off with in-state rival, Kansas State, tonight at Allen Fieldhouse. The “Sunflower Showdown” will be anything but sunny or flowery. I truly expect K-State to impose as much physicality on the game as they can muster. I think it’s a good strategy, and I also think it will be a great test for this KU team.

Bill Self likes to call conference play “big boy basketball.” I think this will be a big boy type of game, which has traditionally been an advantage for Self’s teams. Unfortunately this squad does not have the kind of front court depth to bang around on the post like recent teams. It also hasn’t quite shown that it has what it takes to play a physical game that is won or lost on the boards and in the hustle plays.

Robinson will be hounded every time he catches the ball. He is getting better at kicking the ball out when he feels the extra pressure. That will be especially important against K-State. Another thing the Wildcats are very good at is drawing fouls. Jamar Samuels and Thomas Gibson are among the top 20 in the nation at fouls drawn. Robinson cannot allow emotion or the physical nature of the game to get the best of him on the defensive end. He has to play smart so that he can stay on the floor. We’ll need him.

I also think this will be a big game for Withey. After being benched for much of the last game due to what Self described as a lack of effort, he will certainly be out to prove something. I look forward to him playing aggressive on the defensive end and attacking the boards on every shot. He doesn’t need to be a big part of the offense to have a tremendous impact on the game.

As for our guard play, I hope to see much more dribble penetration tonight. I especially want to see Elijah and Tyshawn drive the ball to the basket with a scorer’s mentality. If the dump pass in the post is wide open or if you get a defender to slide over leaving the wing open, then sure, pass the ball. But I’d like those two to really assert themselves off the dribble. It will take some pressure off of Thomas and potentially give him some more room to work and get some looks one-on-one. It would also be nice to improve on that awful 6-27 performance from 3-point range last game.

I know K-State is 11-1 and ranked #22 in the country now. I know they are the new darling in the Big XII, suddenly predicted to be in the discussion for a league title. I’m just not buying it. I think they play their butts off for a coach who is better at his job than most people think. But I just don’t think they are all that talented, and I think they might be exposed tonight.*

*Strange sidenote: You can basically take everything I said in the preceding paragraph and apply it to their football team too.

While I have a certain respect for guys that “play as a team” and are successful at overcoming talent differential by out-hustling opponents, I still don’t think this game will be close. I think the Fieldhouse will be rocking. I think K-State has our respect. And I think our players are starting to play a better brand of basketball. While it hasn’t shown up on the scoreboard just yet, you can definitely see improvement since that Davidson loss. The guys seem to be buying in and playing better. I predict that we overcome the bruising of the game and win by 13-15 points. Something like 78-64.

It probably won’t be the prettiest game, but it will be a lot of fun.

On a closing note, it will be @BradyMcCollough‘s last KU game for a long time. He’ll be in the stands as a fan for the first time since arriving in Kansas City. Give him your best.

Rock chalk!