Manhattan Coaches always say it, and in some cases it's true. Sometimes it really doesn't matter who starts games. It matters more who finishes them.
Kansas University freshman guard Sherron Collins is a finisher. He finishes drives to the hoop. He finishes games. And he has finished a very talented team that needed more aggressiveness, more toughness, more leadership, more swagger, to be considered a bona fide Final Four contender.
Once he finishes himself as a basketball player, once he finishes taming the wildness that sometimes gets in the way, he'll be rich and famous.
After a first half in which he made a lot happen, not all of it good, Collins could have gone into retreat mode, except that he doesn't know how to do that. His next passive move in life will be his first.
The muscular 5-foot-11, 200-pound blur of a point guard from Chicago played in as hostile an environment as he'd ever played basketball in. Funny how that so often brings out the best in young men who didn't have a lot given to them in life.
Collins was given the gift of athleticism, and he has done amazing things with it. He took the game over and that, more than anything, is why Kansas finished off Kansas State, 71-62, in an intense battle witnessed by 13,340 Bramlage Coliseum loudmouths, most of them dressed in black.
Backed by a wild crowd, Kansas State pulled even at 43 with 11:14 remaining. Then the best player in the game showed why he is the best player in the game. Collins pretty much did as he pleased with the ball.
He started by hitting a three-pointer 11 seconds later, and KU led the rest of the way. He didn't even need eight minutes to score 12 of his career-high 20 points. His jumper with 3:13 left put KU up, 63-53. He punctuated hard drives with reverse layins. He switched the ball from his right to his left in mid-air and swished a runner.
"Collins is special," K-State coach Bob Huggins said. "Collins is a really good player."
In the first half, Collins scored six points and had two steals. He also turned it over four times. He didn't turn it over once in the second half.
"He's got such a strong base," the sick Huggins said between coughs. "If you get on the side of him like we let him get, he's not going to let you get back in front of him. He's a little bit like the kid I had (at Cincinnati), (Steve) Logan. Logan had such a great base. Now, Logan didn't have Collins' explosion. He couldn't run up and down like that, but he could put you on his hip, and he'd get any shot he wanted, and that's what Collins does. You've got to stay in front of him. If you get on the side of him, he's going to take you wherever he wants to take you."
Collins traced his emergence to the Texas Tech game, a day when KU lost the battle but found a leader.
"From there on, I was doing a lot of penetrating and getting in there," Collins said. ": When I started to do that, the game came much easier to me."
And easier for those who play with him, such as freshman Darrell Arthur, whose muscles seemed to grow in Bramlage. He contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Remember it as the night it became evident the two most talented basketball players the current Jayhawks coaching staff has recruited were the two freshmen who led them to victory.