Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Keegan: Collins provides a spark


Passing the basketball to Sherron Collins was the smart thing for Kansas University's veterans to do Tuesday night in a tuneup game against Tennessee State because it was Collins who had the hottest hand.

Set up for open three-point shots by nice ball movement against a zone defense during an 89-54 blowout, Collins led KU in scoring with 19 points.

Yet, for all those good decisions made, none would have made Jayhawks coach Bill Self as happy as the one made by Julian Wright during the postgame media session had the coach seen it.

Brandon Rush was asked about Saturday night's showdown with defending national champion Florida, and Rush was just a few words into his answer when Wright stole the microphone, flashed the stop sign with an open palm and said: "I'm going to stop you before you say something you don't mean."

By that, Wright meant he was going to stop Rush before he said something he wouldn't want either Florida's or Ball State's players to read. So Wright slipped into boring coach-speak about Ball State being the next game and not looking past that and so forth and so on.

Regardless of what happens against Ball State on Friday night in Las Vegas, Florida (outscoring its five opponents by an average of 88-46) looms as a Saturday night game that will capture the nation's attention.

Sasha Kaun's Tuesday night return should help the Jayhawks emotionally and physically in that one, and so should the way Collins has embraced his sixth-man, instant-offense role.

Collins entered with 14:30 left in the first half and KU leading, 11-10. Eight-and-a-half minutes later, Collins had hit all three of his three-point attempts, was 5-for-5 overall and had scored 13 points, and KU was in the middle of 40-9 run to close out the half.

"He shoots like that in practice when he's on a roll," Rush said of Collins. "He'll get 'em up real quick. He did that tonight, and he was on fire. We kept feeding him the ball, and he was wide open. He was just knocking down the big shots."

Collins elevates high on his jumper and shoots a rainbow. Can he shoot them over Rush?

"I'll just block it, beat it to the stands," Rush said. "That's where it goes."

The truth?

"It ain't," Collins said.

He's a far better offensive player than a defensive one, but he's already saying the right things that show he's addressing his weaknesses.

Audio clips

2006-07 Nov. 21 KU-TSU Hoops

Such as: "I think I've grown a lot, but I've got a lot more growing to do, a lot more learning to do. I'm just trying to take as much in as I can from all the older players."

And: "We have so many weapons on the team, the offense is always going to be here, we just have to bring the intensity and the defense and get loose balls down on the floor to get everybody going."

Self likes what he sees in Collins, especially when the coach looks into the future.

"He's going to be a really good player," Self said. "He doesn't have the feel in the open court like Mario or Russell yet, but he'll get there. He just never had anybody to throw the ball to. He's just always been the guy who takes it and shoots it."

Tuesday night, he caught it and shot it and sparked his team on its way to a blowout.


Leprechaunking13 13 years, 2 months ago

I love Sherrons rainbow, I never think it's going to miss! Keep up the 3's!

97jhawk 13 years, 2 months ago

Way to go Ju Ju! The "Human Highlight Reel" saves the day! That's what this team needs. A vocal leader setting precedent and keeping the guys focused on their next contest without inflating their egos or underestimating any opponent on the roster. ORU should be lesson learned on that one. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! KU!

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