LAWRENCE — Last season, Thomas Robinson had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and returned to the KU lineup 10 days later. So it should come as no surprise that Robinson will play in tonight's exhibition game against Fort Hays State 12 days after suffering a hyperextended right knee.
Robinson said Monday he started practicing within a few days of the injury and appeared annoyed that he had to answer questions about his health.
"My knee's not a problem," Robinson said. "I'll wear a brace for now just because I want to. The knee questions, y'all can stop with that."
Robinson's no-nonsense attitude is one of the reasons he's risen to the point of being a CBSSports.com first-team preseason All-American and Naismith Trophy watch list nominee (announced Monday). While Robinson would prefer to be free of speculation about his knees, he understands how crucial his presence will be to the Jayhawks this season.
Robinson, a junior forward from Washington, D.C., is KU's only experienced big man, having played 14.6 minutes a game last season in relief of the Morris twins. He frightened his teammates and himself at practice on Oct. 27 when he fell to the floor in pain after colliding with Travis Releford.
"It was scary, really scary," Robinson said. "It wasn't serious. It was more of a panic attack on my part than anything else. But if I hear anything make a noise, I'm going to panic."
KU fans can enter tonight's last tune-up before Friday's season-opener against Towson with eased nerves knowing that Robinson will be in the lineup. Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson will sit once again, completing their suspension for an offseason violation of team rules.
Robinson won't be 100 percent, but this will give him a chance to play in a game situation with some of his new teammates, like true freshman point guard Naadir Tharpe and junior transfer Kevin Young.
"It'll be nice to have Thomas in there so we can kind of see how things are going to play out with our best presence in there," KU coach Bill Self said. "He needs the reps, too. He needs to see the ball going in the hole also."