Russell Robinson feared the worst when he had to be helped off the court after spraining the bottom of his right foot at practice Wednesday in Horejsi Center.
"It was frustrating because it was really bad. I couldn't walk. I woke up, and overnight it pretty much improved. I'm in good spirits now," Robinson said Thursday while walking without a limp in Allen Fieldhouse.
The 6-foot-1 junior point guard - who suffered no broken bones or torn ligaments after getting trampled by stocky Sherron Collins and a couple of other players who all dove for the basketball - is expected to miss Saturday's home game against Iowa State and possibly Monday's game at Oklahoma.
But the injury could have been much worse.
"Thank God he lost weight, or it (foot) might have been broken," Robinson quipped of the 200-pound Collins, who has shed more than 20 pounds since arriving on campus last summer.
"It's just one of those things that happens. There was a little pileup, and my foot got caught under a couple players. It's nothing serious. I should be back soon, very soon."
Collins agrees it's a good thing he doesn't pack as many pounds as he used to.
"If I was 228, I probably would have broken it. I've got to thank coach Hudy (Andrea, strength coach) for that," Collins said, going on to explain the mishap.
"I was guarding Russell. He slipped when the ball came loose. I tripped over him and fell on his foot. It was kind of a bang-bang play. I feel bad. Stuff happens, but it wasn't intentional. I'm glad he'll be back soon."
Collins, who started the Emporia State exhibition and regular-season opener against Northern Arizona because of a toe injury to Mario Chalmers, would prefer continuing to defer to Robinson, who has started KU's last 33 games.
"It will be exciting," Collins said of starting, "but I'm used to Russell being there, hearing, 'New York, New York,' from the crowd, too. It'll be tough without him. We've got to get through it."
KU coach Bill Self said he hated losing Robinson for any period of time, even just a game or two.
"It's a blow. It definitely hurts. I like having Russell out there. Russell does so many little things that don't show up on the (stat sheets)," Self said. "He gives us an air of toughness, and he's been on a roll lately (21 assists, seven turnovers last four games). He was playing as well as he has all year.
"He'll be missed. I know the guys will step up and fill the void and play well in his absence, but everyone on our team will be disappointed he's not able to go."
Self said to expect sophomore combo guard Chalmers to run the point when Collins is out of the game.
"It's the same basic role. I mean there's really no difference (between guard slots) in our system," Chalmers said. "It doesn't matter who brings the ball up the court. Whoever gets the ball first takes it. Every guard can play the point."
Self said Rodrick Stewart also could land more minutes as well as Jeremy Case and Brady Morningstar. However, Case also has been hindered by a foot injury and has not been practicing full time.
2006-07 Feb. 22 KU hoops presser
"They say it's a stress fracture. I can play on it but am limited in practice," said Case, who has been wearing a boot when not practicing. He said the injury kind of "popped up" one day.
"It's kind of a bad time to be banged up. I've got to fight through it. When coach needs me, I'll be ready," Case added.
KU's other injured player is power forward Darnell Jackson, who has been limited with a stress fracture in his back the past several weeks.
"It (team's injury situation) has been decent considering how we started out," said Self, who lost C.J. Giles to transfer, Sasha Kaun to a knee injury and Chalmers to his toe injury early on. "Knock on wood. We've been pretty fortunate until yesterday."
Robinson - who said most of the discomfort was swelling and soreness under his big toe - is hoping to play on Big Monday at OU, though Self indicated, "I would say the likelihood of that is less than 50-50. It depends on how fast he's healing. We'll have him back after that, though. There's no question our bench will have to step up, and Julian (Wright) can play on the perimeter, too. This limits the number of bodies you can throw at people."
¢ Race for the title: KU and Texas A&M; are 11-2 in the league; Texas is 10-3 with three games remaining.
A&M; will play Baylor and Missouri at home and Texas on the road. KU meets Iowa State and Texas at home and Oklahoma on the road. Texas meets A&M; at home and travels to Oklahoma and KU.
"They (Aggies) go to Texas, and Texas is playing as well as anybody," Self said. "It'll be a coin-flip-type game. We're not expecting any favors from anybody."
¢ Football mentality: Self said he liked the fact point guard Collins played high school football.
"I like football players," Self said. "There is something about their mindset, liking contact that I think is a positive. I don't know if it's football in general, or the fact he played all the sports (including baseball). As the shortest guy, he usually had to fight for everything. There's something about him, the fearlessness in that regard of going in the lane and taking it to the basket."
¢ Starting no big deal: Robinson will be there to support Collins if he needs it during Saturday's 5 p.m. start versus ISU. "I think he'll be fine. I don't think it'll be anything new. He started some games early in season. He'll be great. It's an opportunity for a lot of guys like Rod, Jeremy, Brady to step up. I think they will," Robinson said.
"It's something I'm not used to doing," Collins said, adding, "I'm ready to do what coach needs me to do."