Robinson remains questionable for Tuesday
After hyperextending his knee late last week, it's still unclear whether junior power forward Thomas Robinson will take the court during Tuesday's exhibition opener versus Pittsburg State.
"Yesterday, he just stayed half-court," said Head Coach Bill Self. "I think there's a chance he'll play, but I'm not going to put him out there unless the training staff tells us that we should put him out there. He's still not close to 100-percent - it's probably about a week away from that."
Like any top-shelf coach, Self demands excellence from his team no matter who is on the court.
However, with Robinson's status uncertain and guards Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor out for the pre-season as punishment for a violation of team rules which occurred in the off-season, Self acknowledged his expectations will change a little bit.
"It's going to be totally different," he said. "But my expectations are that we go out there and play with some energy, some enthusiasm, and play tough. And we'll see how some newcomers react when they have to play tough."
To Self's mind, coaching is about two things - getting guys to play as hard and as unselfishly as they can.
Thus far, he believes they're succeeding in the unselfish part of the equation.
"I don't think we know how to play hard yet," Self said. "We (don't) know how to compete on every possession. I think that's something you have to kind of learn as you go. Guys think they're working hard, playing hard, but if you ever say 'Pick it up' and they're able to go a little bit faster, that means they weren't doing it before."
Suspension what veteran guards need
While Self didn't elaborate on the nature of the off-season violation of team rules which resulted in the two-game, pre-season suspension for Johnson and Taylor, he did emphasize that he felt it was the right move to make.
Both players have been, in his words, "great," since the punishment was handed down months ago - in terms of effort, discipline and responsibility.
"I think the object is to get your team ready," Self said. "I'm not doing it to embarrass them, nothing like that, but this is what needs to be done and they're in total agreement with me."
"I'm not going to go back on that," he added. "We're here to win the battle over time, not try to appease the situation to make it seem like something didn't occur."