LAHAINA, MAUI -- For two years, Thomas Robinson played in the shadow of Marcus and Markieff Morris. The past two years, when called upon, he gave the Jayhawks a huge lift off the bench. But with the Morris twins in the NBA the question was: Can Robinson carry the Jayhawks on his own shoulders?
On Monday, in a 67-63 victory over the Georgetown Hoyas, Robinson answered with an emphatic "yes." Robinson tied a career high with 20 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
"He was a man amongst boys," one NBA general manager said. "You don't find that combination of strength, explosive athletic ability and motor every day. He's still learning how to play on the offensive end. But what he brings to the table every night, you can't teach."
Point guard Tyshawn Taylor put it more succinctly: "He's our emotional leader."
Robinson scored most of his points against Georgetown off emphatic dunks. Whether they were lobs from Elijah Johnson or in iso situations on the block, Robinson was trying to throw down everything on Monday night. He dove on the floor, took hit after hit in the paint and just kept on chugging away as Georgetown players hacked away. He also made a number of terrific passes and showed a rare combination of passion and poise on the court.
"He played really well," Kansas coach Bill Self said after the game. "He played like himself. Sometimes he can float out on the perimeter or whatever. He knew where his bread was buttered tonight. He got the ball inside and we were patient enough to get it to him and he had a lot of easy finishes by getting some angles. I thought he played really well. I thought he competed hard."
A couple more notes from Georgetown-Kansas ...
-- Robinson had a great performance on Monday night, but he wasn't alone. The Jayhawks were supported with a sterling showing from Taylor, who had 16 points and was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Travis Releford was 4-for-4 from the field and Johnson added 10 points and five assists. The backcourt starting lineup of Taylor and Johnson looks especially productive down the road for the Jayhawks. With two quick athletic ball handlers in the backcourt, KU should solve more problems than its lack of size will cause.
-- Georgetown junior Hollis Thompson declared for the 2011 NBA draft, but withdrew before the deadline for underclassmen to return to college. It looks like it was a good move. Thompson wasn't really on the radar screens of NBA scouts before the move. Now he's getting a closer look and teams like what they see. Thompson had 14 points for the Hoyas on Monday night. He hit a couple of 3s and found his way to the basket on several plays. The 6-foot-8 small forward impressed the scouts who were there. "He's got a chance," one NBA scout said. "He can shoot the ball, he can put it on the floor and he's got good size for his position. I like him."