April 12, 2007

Unheralded Leader

For the second straight year, point guard Russell Robinson took home the Mr. Jayhawk Award, voted by teammates as the most valuable player. Robinson helped guide the Jayhawks to 33 wins and an appearance in the Elite Eight. While some awards are given to the player who scores the most, or had the most highlight-reel plays over the course of a season, Tuesday's award given to KU's quiet leader was a testament to how important a guy like Robinson truly is. On a team with so many talented players, Robinson's play is overlooked, and too often, forgotten.

What makes a player so important to his team? If you are just talking about basketball, is it scoring the most points? Is it a Dennis Rodman-like rebounding skill? Is it the ability to fly above the rim for spectacular dunks?

If it really is about all of those individual skills, then would the word "team" really mean anything?

If you are going to talk about the word "team," you better include the word "leader," as well. The two are synonymous with each other. In the case of Russell Robinson, "leader" is his middle name.

Championship-teams always have one thing in common with each other; a strong leader; a player who flies under the radar, but makes the biggest impact on a team, and in a game.

Look at two-time defending champs Florida. Billy Donovan had All American-caliber players like Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Corey Brewer, guys with supreme athleticism and the marketability of anyone in the NBA.

Standing behind those three is Taurean Green, a junior point guard who, for two years, was the driver behind the wheel of the championship train speeding through Gainesville, Fla.

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