Five Kansas players scored in double figures — led by Markieff Morris' 14 points — as the KU men's basketball team defeated Emporia State in its final exhibition game Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews
KU coach Bill Self
Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 90-59 exhibition victory over Emporia State on Nov. 9, 2010.
KU-ESU box score ( .PDF )
Former Kansas University basketball center Sasha Kaun and his newlywed bride, ex-Jayhawk soccer player Taylor Blue, stopped by Allen Fieldhouse to watch basketball practice the other day.
“Like I told my wife, I really like Thomas,” Kaun, one of the heroes of the 2008 NCAA championship season, said, referring to KU sophomore power forward Thomas Robinson.
“Once he gets the game down a little bit, he’s going to be really good.”
Kaun — the CSKA Moscow player is back in the U.S. for three months rehab following last week’s knee surgery — made those comments before the 6-foot-9, 237-pound Robinson’s stellar 12-point, 10-rebound effort in the Jayhawks’ 90-59 exhibition drubbing of Emporia State on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Had the game counted, it would have marked the second starting appearance, and second double-double, of the Washington, D.C., native’s career. He had 15 points and 10 boards against Alcorn State his rookie season. His other start was at Nebraska.
“Starting the game out with a dunk was a big energy boost,” said Robinson, who hit the boards to slam a Tyrel Reed miss, giving KU a 4-0 lead. Shortly after, Robinson skied to ram a missed Reed free throw, providing the Jayhawks an early 12-3 advantage.
“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable on the court. My knowledge of the game is way higher than when I was a freshman,” Robinson said.
He had two blocks the first half and two the second, accounting for half of KU’s eight rejections.
“I can block shots when I play to my athletic ability. With Cole gone, somebody has to step up and do what he did, or do some of the things he did,” Robinson said of Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Cole Aldrich, an intimidating defensive factor for KU.
Robinson — he said it really doesn’t matter to him whether he starts or comes off the bench — hit four of seven shots and four of six free throws in 23 minutes.
“Thomas was nervous,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He did some good things. He got a couple of offensive putbacks. He can play ... so big some possessions and so small other possessions. It’s unbelievable. Consistency will come with him with repetition and playing time. Thomas is going to be Thomas, which is good.”
He was one of five players to score for in double figures. Travis Releford hit five of six shots and scored 12 points, while Marcus Morris also scored 12. Markieff Morris had a team-leading 14 points, while Tyshawn Taylor had 10.
Robinson was the only player to record a double-double, however, on a night another former KU big man standout watched the action.
“Since he’s been here, everybody’s been talking about his body, and it’s there,” colorful ex-NBA pivot Scot Pollard said. “He’s gotten better at using that body. For him, it’s important to keep the ball up and go up strong with the ball like Mario Little (seven points, two rebounds, three steals). Mario is a small big man who has a good base. His feet are square, solid, and he goes up strong with the ball.
“Thomas can learn from Mario. It’s the same thing I learned from Richard Scott, who (like Little) was another undersized power forward. It’s weird, but sometimes big guys can learn from smaller guys. The fundamentals that make smaller guys effective in the post, big guys can put to use. It’s something Thomas needs to do,” Pollard added.
Pollard borrowed a line from the movie “Swingers” to make his final point.
“He has to learn to use those bear claws effectively,” Pollard said. “(It was said in movie) ‘You’ve got these bear claws. Man you don’t even know how to use ’em.’ He’s still learning how to use those bear claws,” Pollard said.
Next chance is Friday’s against Longwood. Tipoff for the regular-season opener is 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse.