The focus after Kansas’ 82-78 win against Colorado wasn’t Josh Selby and his shooting stroke that finally returned. It wasn’t Brady Morningstar and his season-high 14 points or Alec Burks’ game-high 25 for CU in the loss.
It was about the one guy who wasn’t there, sophomore forward Thomas Robinson.
“Before the game he texted me and said, ‘Don’t worry about me, I’m good. Just make sure y’all get this win today,'” Selby said of Robinson. “So we all wanted to come out here and get this win for him.”
Robinson – in Washington D.C. to be with his 9-year-old sister, Jayla, after the death of their mother, Lisa, on Friday night – was on the minds of every Jayhawk before, during and after the game. Little wonder. They all treat Robinson’s loss like it was their own.
“It’s definitely tough to focus on basketball when you know every day he’s worried about his mom,” junior Marcus Morris said. “For any of the players on our team, that’s a tough task.”
Far, far tougher than rebounding from their only loss of the season (Saturday against Texas) or a sluggish finish vs. the Buffs.
But they’re coping. And they hope to help Thomas’ sister cope as well.
This story by CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish focuses on that very idea. Thomas and Jayla have lost their mother, grandmother and grandfather, all since late December. And now some are kicking around the idea of having Jayla move to Lawrence so she can be with her big brother when they could use each other the most.
But it’s a tricky situation. If boosters get involved to help with the financial details, they could run afoul of NCAA rules. Perhaps the NCAA might make an exception, but that decision is a ways off.
“We understand they have rules, but [the NCAA is] trying to make as many allowances within the rules as they can,” Kansas coach Bill Self told Parrish. “With this situation and as much hardship as there is, I think the NCAA is looking out for the student-athlete first. I can’t say anything remotely negative at all about how this has been handled by them.”
For now, the Jayhawks will do their best to comfort their teammate and his sister. It’s what family does.
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