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Bill Self hopes Jeff Withey can help replace Thomas Robinson

Bill Self hopes senior Jeff Withey can replace the toughness in the middle left when Thomas Robinson went to the NBA.

Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

The Kansas Jayhawks' men's basketball team will have a hard time replacing 6'10 center Thomas Robinson in 2012-13. Head coach Bill Self hopes senior Jeff Withey can help replace some of the toughness left by Robinson, as KUSports.com writes.

Robinson was the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. Self said he was an integral part to the Jayhawks' run to the national championship game:

"The thing about Thomas ... we can talk about all the things he did well. He gave us an air of toughness. It made other players think they were really tough or fierce because he led by example," said KU coach Bill Self. "If he got one mitt on the ball, I mean he was a fierce, tough competitive rebounder. He was unbelievable at 50/50 balls."

With Robinson gone, Withey's 7' frame steps into the post. Self said the team is relying on Withey to provide the presence in the middle, though he needs to work on his offense:

"We need him to be a presence inside. We want to play inside/out. He's a big reason why we can do that," Self said. "Jeff benefited from having Thomas around, but I don't know if you realize how much Thomas benefited from having Jeff around. He (Robinson) never had to guard the other team's best big guy. (He said), ‘If I make a mistake, Jeff can clean it up.' Offensively would be a question mark where he (Withey) needs to take another step."

Kansas opens the regular season on Nov. 9 against Southeast Missouri State.