When asked for what the focus of practices have been since "Late Night in the Phog" opened the 2010-2011 season two weeks ago, Kansas Jayhawks sophomore power forward Thomas Robinson needed about a half-second to respond:
"Practice has been tough," Robinson said. "We've been getting after it, there's still a lot of stuff that we have to put in. So it's just been a lot of teaching basically, just going over everything and trying to get ready for (tonight)."
The Jayhawks take on the Washburn Ichabods at 7 p.m. tonight inside Allen Fieldhouse, continuing a longstanding tradition of playing a pair of exhibition games against a rotating schedule of the state's Division II schools to kick off competition each year.
Head Coach Bill Self has been quoted many times regarding his team's athletic potential in recent years, but fans shouldn't expect them to be running like a finely-tuned machine just yet.
"I think we're going to be good," Self explained. "I don't think we're close to being good yet. We don't value the same things that I think are real important for us to value, but I don't know how many teams do Nov. 1. I think this is going to be a fun team."
Robinson expressed a sincere excitement at getting out on the court and having the opportunity to pound on someone other than a teammate – a sentiment with which Self agreed.
Like the 16,000 fans who will pack the Fieldhouse tonight, the coaches and team are excited to get the ball rolling.
"I think it's always good to get some experience under the lights, to get out the nervousness and some of those things," Self said. "I want to see how our guys react, obviously."
Injury update: Fans should expect to see Markieff Morris on the court tonight, though he may not play regular-season minutes after recovering from recent hernia surgery.
Perhaps of a great concern is sophomore center Jeff Withey, who is coming along more slowly in his recovery from a broken foot suffered in September.
"We thought he would be 100-percent healthy, full speed by today," Self said Monday afternoon. "This was six weeks ago, and he's still at least a week away, maybe two weeks away from being where we want him to be."
Though it's not from lack of trying on Withey's part, the big sophomore is nonetheless missing critical time.
"He needs the reps as much as anybody," Self went on to say. "Missing practice this time of year would be like missing all your two-a-days in football. It's going to take you 2-3 times as long to come back and get into the flow."