Kentucky basketball notes: Self makes case for Kansas' Robinson as Player of the Year

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 1, 2012 

With all due respect to Kentucky center Anthony Davis, Kansas Coach Bill Self said Thursday that Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson has had a better season.

Why?

Because Davis gets more help from UK teammates, thus he's a relatively smaller threat for opposing teams to contain.

"Defenses are designed to stop Thomas," Self said at a news conference. "At Kentucky — this is a compliment to their whole team — it's hard when you've got (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist, (Doron) Lamb and all these other dudes that can make plays and go for 20 or 25 points a night.

"With that being said, Anthony Davis will be the No. 1 pick. But as a college player this year, I really believe Thomas has had the best year."

Davis and Robinson are generally considered the top two candidates for national player-of-the-year awards.

Robinson, a 6-foot-10 junior, is Kansas' leading scorer with an average of 17.8 points. The Jayhawks' only other player with a double-digit scoring average is Tyshawn Taylor at 17.1.

Davis led Kentucky in scoring with an average of 14.3 points going into Thursday night's game against Georgia. Five teammates averaged nine or more points — Lamb (13.6), Terrence Jones (12.2), Kidd-Gilchrist (12.0), Darius Miller (9.9) and Marquis Teague (9.8).

Among Robinson's other statistics are a rebounding average of 11.8, field-goal percentage of 53.1 , free-throw percentage of 69.5 and 4-for-11 three-point shooting.

Davis had averaged fewer rebounds (9.8), but he had blocked 138 shots and shot better from the field (65.8) and foul line (71.7).

When asked Wednesday about Davis as a Player of the Year candidate, UK Coach John Calipari noted the freshman's team-first approach and impact on both ends of the floor.

Calipari acknowledged "other worthy candidates," but Self said the winner would be Davis or Robinson.

"I think it's a two-horse race, without question, and they're both thoroughbreds," the Kansas coach said. "... Anthony impacts the game in a variety of ways, in some ways more than Thomas does. But his supporting cast is so strong that he has not received the attention that Thomas has.

"To me, when you scout Kansas, you're going to say, 'We have to keep Robinson out of certain areas, we're going to double him when he catches the ball and we're going to send two guys to block him out. We're going to do a lot of things to eliminate his good touches.' "

Believe it or not

Hard to believe, but a Kentucky player has not won a Player of the Year award sponsored by The Associated Press, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, National Association of Basketball Coaches, Naismith or Wooden.

Two years ago, UK's John Wall won the Rupp Award presented by the Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky symbolizing its Player of the Year. That's it.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: jtipton@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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