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November 1, 2011Down Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, No. 13 ranked Kansas could very well take the court for its first exhibition game of the season without the services of Thomas Robinson, the 6-foot-9, 237-pound power forward from Washington, D.C.
"We'll see about practice today," said Kansas head coach Bill Self on Monday afternoon. "Yesterday, he just stayed half court. I think there's a chance he'll play, but I'm not going to put him out there (court) unless the training staff tells us that we should put him out there.
"He's still not close to 100 percent," he added. "He's probably about a week away from that."
On October 27, Self released a statement indicating Robinson had hyper extended his left knee at practice and would take a couple of days off to let the injury calm down. Three days later, it was announced that Taylor and Johnson would miss both exhibition games for violating team rules during the offseason.
Due to the loss of Robinson, Taylor and Johnson, Self's expectations heading into Tuesday night's exhibition opener against Pittsburgh State have certainly changed.
"No, my expectations will change with this," said Self. "If you don't have a healthy Thomas and you don't have your starting backcourt, then obviously it's not the same team. 60 percent of your stuff is gone. Tyshawn and Elijah need to play at least 32-35 minutes a game each, so it will be a totally different look.
"My expectations are we just go out there and play with some energy and enthusiasm and play tough," he added. "I want to see how some newcomers react when they have to play a lot."
Having posted a record of 68-6 the previous two seasons, Self, to some degree, finds himself in unfamiliar territory. During KU's impressive two year stretch, the Jayhawks have bid farewell to such players as Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry, Marcus Morris, Cole Aldrich, Tyrel Reed, Markieff Morris, Brady Morningstar, Mario Little and Josh Selby.
Early on, it looked like Kansas would experience a few ups and downs this season, but nobody expected the ride to be this bumpy before the first exhibition game of the 2011-12 season. While Self knew long ago that Taylor and Johnson wouldn't be available early on, he simply didn't envision Braden Anderson being forced to find another school and he never anticipated Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor missing the entire season.
For Self and the Jayhawks, there's been some level of adjustment early on.
"I don't think you coach more, because coaching is getting guys to play as hard as they can and as unselfishly as they can," he said. "I think we are accomplishing half of that. I think our guys, for the most part, are unselfish. I don't think we know hard to play hard yet.
"We know how to compete on every possession, and I think that's something you kind of learn as you go," he added.
With so many missing bodies, Self said he plans to experiment quite a bit against Pittsburg State.
"No, you will see that (Conner Teahan) playing inside," he said. "Conner will play some at the four. He's a tough matchup because he can shoot it so well, and he's been good. Naadir Tharpe and Niko Roberts will play point guard and maybe Jordan Juenemann a little bit.
"Tyshawn would be our first point and Elijah probably our second," he added. "This is great for Naadir, it's great for him. He's going to have to play minutes in games that matter, so it will be good to see how he handles it."