April 9, 2012
Following a welcome from Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger, dinner and a highlight video, Kansas head coach Bill Self had each exiting player – KU’s three seniors (Jordan Juenemann, Conner Teahan and Taylor) and Robinson, a junior who declared for the 2012 NBA Draft earlier in the day – address the crowd. Self then recognized his coaching and support staffs, talked about each of his players and the remarkable 2011-12 season. Kansas went 32-7 on the season, advanced to the school’s 14th Final Four where it finished runner-up, won its school-record eighth straight and 12th Big 12 regular-season championship and finished the year No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 6 in the Associated Press poll, which is released prior to the NCAA Tournament. Additionally, KU finished the season 16-0 in Allen Fieldhouse, upping its home-court winning streak to 22 games, and placed runner-up at the Maui Invitational in November.
“Since the ‘08 team, this has been without a question the team I have enjoyed coaching the most,” Self told reporters following the event referencing Kansas’ 2008 NCAA National Championship squad. “They probably demonstrated more of a workman, tough attitude than the other teams I have had. The other teams won, played well and were more talented but they also won on ability. This team had to win by leaning on each other.”
Self had assistant coach Danny Manning address the crowd as he is about to move on to the University of Tulsa where he was named head coach in late March. With Manning remaining on the stage, Self named Taylor and Robinson the recipients of the Danny Manning “Mr. Jayhawk” Award. Both student-athletes were 2012 All-Big 12 First Team selections and later named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team.
Taylor, from Hoboken, N.J., was a four-year starter at Kansas amassing a 127-21 record with four Big 12 regular-season titles, two Big 12 tourney championships, two NCAA Elite Eights and one Final Four. A Bob Cousy Award finalist as a junior and senior, Taylor was a two-time Big 12 Player of the Week in 2011-12 where he averaged 16.6 points and a team-best 4.8 assists per game. Taylor, who was named to numerous 2012 All-America teams as either a third team or an honorable mention selection, had 13 games of 20 or more points scored his senior season.
“From day one we all came in with the same goals and sometimes it didn’t go how we planned or how we wanted to but we kept fighting and fighting,” Taylor said when at the podium. “This team will always be special to me, mainly because of all the guys (teammates) involved. I’d like to give a shout out to the guys. They are like my brothers, always.”
Robinson leaves Kansas as one of the most decorated players in school history. Declaring for the 2012 NBA Draft, the Washington, D.C., native became Kansas’ 28th Consensus All-American following his junior year where he was the only player in the Big 12 to average a double-double with 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. The 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year who was also named the conference’s player of the week four times, Robinson set a Kansas single-season record and led the nation with 27 double-doubles and his 463 rebounds were second only to former KU legend Wilt Chamberlain’s 510 boards in 1956-57. His 11.9 rebound average was second in NCAA Division I in 2011-12.
“It’s pretty much beyond my words what this program means to me,” Robinson told the crowd. “The past three years have definitely helped me as a man. The credit goes to the coaches and the staff and my teammates. I love them like my brothers.”