Kansas' Robinson stands by words, despite being forced to eat them


NEW ORLEANS -- Mistake No. 1 for Thomas Robinson: garnishing his compliments of Kentucky's Anthony Davis with subtle jabs.

"I mean, Anthony Davis is a great player but he's not Superman," Kansas' All-American post said during Sunday's off day at the Final Four.

"Only thing that stops me from this game is a bullet," Robinson added, "and I doubt that stops me."

Mistake No. 2: underestimating the counterpunch of the national and Final Four most valuable player.

Turns out, Kentucky is No. 1 with a bullet. Davis might not be Superman but he certainly deserves his own spinoff after his performance Monday.

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Call it ... Tallville or maybe Superbrow.

The kid will settle for a national championship to haul off to the NBA when he declares for the draft sometime soon. Davis might not have been superhuman but he was super ... elastic. As usual. Six points, 16 rebounds, five assists and three steals to go along with a modest six blocks. Kentucky's 67-59 victory against Kansas featured one of the most brilliant 1-of-10 shooting performances in history.

Another misleading stat from Monday's national championship game: Thomas outscored and outrebounded Davis. In the first meeting of two first-team All-Americans in a title game since 1979, Thomas was better and worse than his opponent.

Better on paper -- Thomas had 18 points and 17 rebounds. Worse where it counted -- getting shown up by Davis. In some sort of reverse polarization universe, Davis' performance had to recall that of UCLA's Bill Walton 39 years ago.

In the 1973 championship game, Walton missed only one of his 22 shots while scoring 44 against Memphis State. On Monday, Davis made only that one. Each player was clearly the best player on the court in the biggest game.

"I still don't think he's Superman. Just a great player, not Superman," Thomas said.

"I didn't mean anything disrespectful by it. As a competitor, I'm not going to sit here and give all my praise to another player I have to go against."

Except that's what most players do. Don't antagonize. Don't poke the tiger in the cage with a stick and all that. Robinson went there, repeatedly, on Sunday.

"I don't agree with the voters at all, not by a long shot," Robinson said when asked about the player of the year voting won by Davis. "Like I said before, my numbers don't lie. Quietly, I could send [Davis] a how-I-feel note."

Davis might want to send a how-does-it-feel note. In what might have been the worst 104 seconds of his career, T-Rob was humbled in this second-half sequence:

Blocked by Davis 3½ minutes in.

A clanked dunk with his team down by 14.

A steal by Davis that that led to a Terrence Jones basket.

Note to (Bill) Self: Forget his Twitter feed, you might want to monitor your best players' comments.

This, of course, has happened before. Davis had a modest 14 points and six rebounds in the teams' first meeting on Nov. 15. In the game, Robinson said he allowed himself to be pushed around, adding he was "selfish."

"I feel the same way," Robinson said Monday, "just as much I did the first time."

If that was humility, it's too late. Robinson wasn't pushed around so much as outplayed. Davis can do more things better. Robinson didn't guard Davis most of the time, but that was the game's featured matchup. The game was going to turn on the performances of each teams' big men.

Kentucky's freshman was there seemingly each time a Jayhawk came close to the basket. In fact, most of the Wildcats were there. Four of them combined to block 11 shots. You could see Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor short-arming shots as early as the first half.

"It's hard to score over length," Self said. "Nobody in America can simulate length like that."

"No team in the country matches with Kentucky," Robinson concluded.

At halftime, John Calipari told a scoreless Davis not to force his game offensively.

"If you don't [score], don't worry about it," Kentucky's coach told Davis. "You're the best player in the building, so don't worry."

The first freshman to win Final Four most outstanding player since Carmelo Anthony in 2003 was never nervous. How many players can shoot that badly and still be so dominant? Davis had that one basket in 36 minutes. It was one of the biggest of the game, according to Kansas' coach. An 18-foot, face-up baseline jumper with five and change left.

Right in T-Rob's mug.

"Seeing [Davis] in person late in the season as opposed to early in the season, you can see how much he improved," Self said. "We actually guarded him pretty good."

Wait until the kid gets in an NBA weight room. This is a suspect who spurted up from 6-foot-2 to a 6-10 high school prospect. His school didn't have a team, so for a time, Davis was a hidden gem on the national scene. Calipari got him as his latest one-and-done centerpiece. This one led to the controversial coach's first championship.

If Davis is no Superman, then who is this long-limbed, ball-swatting Unibrow who briefly flashed across our TV screens on his way to a title?

"Anthony Davis," he said. "That's all I am. I could care less. We won a ring."

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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