Thomas Robinson took a seat in Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self’s office prior to practice Friday afternoon.
The sophomore power forward had just returned from his hometown of Washington, D.C., site of Thursday’s funeral of his much-beloved mom, Lisa.
“We were sitting there talking about the next move, and he was asking me how he could thank people for being so nice with their thoughts and concerns,” Self said.
“We talked about that a bit. The next thing he said was, ‘How do we beat these guys?’’’ Self added of Kansas State, today’s 6 p.m. opponent in Allen Fieldhouse.
The first part of the conversation culminated in Robinson’s issuing a letter of thanks for KU fans — as well as well-wishers from other schools — who have supported him following the recent deaths of his grandmother, grandfather and mother.
Here’s the letter:
I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that has been shown to me and my family over the past few weeks and especially this past week. I don’t know if I could have made it through the week without the support of my teammates, coaches, administration, KU and all the fans. As much as I would like to thank everyone individually, there have been so many cards, e-mails, texts, tweets and people on Facebook that it would be impossible. Trust me, knowing that people care so much for me and my family is helping us get through these tough times.
Though Washington, D.C., and Lawrence are many miles apart, the outreach from all across the nation has been incredible. I appreciate all the offers of support and cannot express how much it means to me to be a Jayhawk and part of this family.
My main concern is for my sister. Jayla is currently with her father in Washington, D.C. It would be comforting for my mother to know Jayla went to college and that is why we set up mom’s scholarship fund. Information on how to contribute to the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund is below.
Again, I cannot thank you enough for the thoughts, prayers and support you have shown me, Jamah (step-brother) and Jayla. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
As far as the other order of business ... Robinson and his teammates grabbing a batch of rebounds against a team (14-7, 2-4) with a plus-8.8 rebound margin would figure to come in handy today.
Self believes his Jayhawks (19-1, 4-1) are not too weary to do so, despite the fact they’ve traveled 3,000 miles in the past week.
“One thing we’ve got to do is get to some normalcy,” Self said. “Last night was a good start. We got after them pretty good at practice. I think they said, ‘OK, things are back to normal now.’’’
KU junior guard Tyshawn Taylor said Self was quite intense at a Thursday evening practice held shortly after the Jayhawks’ return from the trip to D.C. and Lisa Robinson’s funeral.
“He (Self) screamed: ‘We’ve got to get back to normal’ a lot yesterday,” Taylor said. “I mean, he’s definitely right because it felt kind of weird coming back late, practicing, then having to come back today, going to class.
“There’s been a lot. I feel I’ve been in the air and hotels more than my own room. Getting back to normal and our regular schedule is going to be good for us,” Taylor added.
Senior Tyrel Reed admitted it’s been quite a physical and mental grind of late.
“Our trainer was saying we’ve been in Mountain Time (at Colorado on Monday and Tuesday), Central Time, Eastern Time. We’ve been all over the place here recently. We got back last night. On the plane we were all tired, but at practice I thought we were focused and had a good practice,” Reed said.
The Jayhawks have won five straight games and 10 of the past 11 versus KSU. KU has won four in a row and 15 of 16 versus the Wildcats in Allen Fieldhouse.
Senior Brady Morningstar, who like Reed is a native Kansan, said there’s quite a bit of incentive today, not just because ESPN GameDay is in town.
“It’s, win it for everybody. Win it for Thomas. Wayne (Simien, who will have his jersey No. 23 hung in the rafters at halftime), the fans, the town, everybody that doesn’t like K-State, everybody,” Morningstar said.
Proving smiles have returned to KU’s camp, Morningstar had a quick quip when asked if the Jayhawks had any gas left in the tank following such an emotional week.
“We filled up last night when we got back, so we’ve got three-fourths of a tank left,” he cracked.
Here’s the fund Robinson was referring to in his letter to well-wishers:
Contributions can be made to the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund, for the benefit of Jayla, c/o SNR Denton, 1301 K Street NW, Suite 600, East Tower, Washington, DC 20005-3364. The Scholarship Fund will be administered by Christopher "Kit" Smith of SNR Denton US LLP and other fiduciaries selected by SNR Denton. Contributions to the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund are nondeductible for tax purposes. Later on, a website will be made available for contributions as well.