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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

KU guard Collins honored by Big 12

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GameDay Cram Session: Texas Tech

Jesse and Tom look at the matchup between Kansas and Texas Tech.

Self: KU had best half since UNC game

According to Kansas head coach Bill Self, KU's game against Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse featured perhaps the best half of basketball the Jayhawks have played since they faced North Carolina in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Sherron Collins was unaware he had been named Big 12 player of the week — for the second straight week — until a media member mentioned it to him Monday afternoon.

“I slept in because I had no class today,” Collins, Kansas University’s junior point guard, said with a sheepish grin, after learning he’d earned earned the award for the third time this season.

The 5-foot-11 point guard by midday Monday had been told the Jayhawks had cracked the Top 10 of both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls for the first time all season.

“I got a text from one of my teammates (informing him KU was ranked No. 9 in both polls),” Collins said of freshman Tyshawn Taylor, who Monday was tapped Big 12 rookie of the week for the fourth time.

“It’s pretty cool. It shows that hard work is paying off. It feels good to be in the Top 10,” added Collins, who averaged 25.5 points a game last week in victories over Oklahoma and Missouri.

“I think it means more this year because we didn’t come in as the No. 3-ranked team in the country. It’s more satisfying to know you worked for something instead of having it given to you.”

KU (24-5, 13-1) opened the season ranked No. 23 by ESPN/USA Today and No. 24 by the AP.

“This is where we wanted to be the whole season,” sophomore guard Tyrel Reed said. “I think it was better for us early on to not have that ranking. Now we are ready to have a little more pressure on us come tournament time.”

Reed said it was “nice to go under the radar” for a good portion of the season.

“For a young team like us, it was good not having a whole lot of pressure early on. Now we are getting used to it. We’ve won some big road games. I think we feel we can handle pressure a little more now. It’s nice to work your way into the Top 10,” Reed said.

KU coach Bill Self doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the rankings.

But ... “If we are going to pick a time to be in the Top 10, this time of year is the best time, obviously,” he said.

That’s because NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday looms on March 15.

Self at this point will accept any and all accolades for his team.

He turned some heads after Sunday’s 90-65 rout of Missouri by saying he thinks he’s “falling in love with this team.”

“That’s probably a little corny, a little ‘soft’ deal,” Self said Monday, then explained why he likes this squad so much.

“Every day they come to work. I think they are unselfish with their thoughts. We don’t always play well. They try. Their body language has been good. It’s been a fun team to watch grow up. Not that we are mature, yet. We are a lot farther along than two months ago. I’ve enjoyed the process the second half of the season.”

• Self finalist for Iba Award: Self is one of 10 finalists for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Henry Iba Award, to be given to the country’s coach of the year.

Other finalists: Missouri’s Mike Anderson, Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel, Utah State’s Stew Morrill, Memphis’ John Calipari, Purdue’s Matt Painter, Clemson’s Oliver Purnell, Pitt’s Jamie Dixon, Cal’s Mike Montgomery and Butler’s Brad Stevens.

• Slump over?: Mario Little has made three of his last 16 shots over the last five games. He made two of six Sunday versus Mizzou.

“I think I was bragging too much,” Little joked of a stretch earlier this year when he made 11 consecutive shots. “Sometimes it falls. I think the slump should be over now.

“I usually am not streaky,” he added. “Most of my life I’ve been real good shooting the ball.”

• Title on the line: KU can wrap up at least a share of the Big 12 title by winning Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. game at Texas Tech. A KU victory combined with an Oklahoma loss at Missouri on Wednesday would give KU the undisputed title heading into KU’s finale against Texas on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It’d be a huge deal to win the league regardless, but we are not in a position to celebrate (Wednesday night) if in fact we have a chance to win it outright (Saturday),” Self said. “Tech’s good. Hopefully our guys will understand it’s the biggest road game we played all year.”

If KU does win the title, it’d be the fifth regular-season crown for senior Matt Kleinmann, who red-shirted in 2004-05.

“Matt has a chance to do something never equaled by a Big 12 basketball athlete — win five regular-season Big 12 titles. It may never be done again in a career because obviously you have to red-shirt,” Self said. “It’d be a big deal for him.”

Comments

Timmay97 10 years, 10 months ago

I think we all should have a moment of silence for Matt Kleinmann. :-)

In all seriousness, he's a part of this team just like everyone else. Our bigs wouldn't be as good if they didn't have him to play against in practice. Congrats Matt!

wischalk 10 years, 10 months ago

Congrats to Matt. What a great guy and a hard worker in practice and in the classroom/studio. Hard to go with "it may never be done again" though, because if we win the league the next two years (not that far fetched), Brady would have 5 Big XII championships as well... with a lot more PT during his tenure.

Matt Kenton 10 years, 10 months ago

All we have to do is win it this year and two more years and Brady could do it.

But seriously, I hope our guys don't feel like they can relax now. If so, another loss, maybe in OKC, might be the reality check these young guys (like Tyshawn) need before the big dance.

Drew Alan 10 years, 10 months ago

the mizzou road game was the reality check. last years team lost at OSU then won 13 straight games to win the national title. if we use the mizzou game as our launching pad, it would be 16 straight games.

I think the appropriate thing to do is beat OU (griffin included) in the big XII conference tourney final, seal up a #2 seed in KC (with priority over OU) to give ourselves the easiest road. I don't want to be a 4 seed and play a team that starts with the letter B...

vmwskywalk 10 years, 10 months ago

Winning out in conference and making it to the Big 12 title game beating a full strength Oklahoma would earn us a 1 seed. I think winning out in conference and making it to the title game seals the deal for a 2 seed.

d_prowess 10 years, 10 months ago

It seems like most of the chatter out there is that there is no way we can get a 1 seed. ESPN even has us winning the Big 12 tourney but still OU gets the 1 and we the 2. That seems a bit odd to me since that would mean we would have beaten OU twice, or once and having them lose to MU in the semis of the Big 12. And regardless of what happens to OU, most also feel that Memphis is poised to take a 1 seed if any of the current 1s drop. Regardless of all that, as long as we take care of business, and either beat OU in the tourney or have them lose to MU, we should take the KC pod away from them. It would be a crock for that to happen and still have them get that placement.

Michael Auchard 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey, guys, correct me if I'm wrong here, maybe it's changed this year -- but when did winning the Big XII tourney do anything for seeding? Isn't the committee pretty much wrapped up before the game even starts? I know they gave lip service last year about how it mattered, but I always thought they were just blowing smoke. Legitimately, I think, if we win out the regular season and get a least one win in the tournament we're a 2 seed. I do not see a 1 seed possible. Maybe if Texas wouldn't have dumped one to TTech and we had another chance against a ranked opponent, but not now.

nobodylikesmizzou 10 years, 10 months ago

Yahweh,

It was mentioned somewhere around these parts earlier (by which I mean on this site) but the championship game for the Big 12 Tourney will be on a Saturday this year. You are correct in that in the past, it has always ended about an hour before the seeds come out, but this year will be different. Let me try and find the story for you

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

A little perspective,

The last four games, Sherron Collins has been a machine. Here's his stats through the Iowa State game:

23.75 ppg, 4.75 apg, 2.11 A/T, 2.75 rebs, 1.75 steals, 54.4% FG, with a ridiculous 62.5% from 3.

That's more than an exceptional, those are POY numbers. Now, of course, he hasn't done that all season (although he hasn't been far off), and his mistakes (well documented by posters on here) mean that he isn't going to be the Player of the Year. But the run he is having at the end of the year deserve him a spot as a finalist. And the only reason he won't be the Big 12 POY, is because that honor will go to the guy earning it nationally. The biggest reason why Sherron Collins deserves to be a finalist for the national award, though, is he has put up those numbers while playing 2 top 10 teams back to back. Granted one was without the afore-alluded-to Mr. Griffin, but it is important to point out that Blake Griffin wouldn't have guarded Sherron Collins. Cole may not get his 20 rebounds in that game, and his touches may be more limited, thus putting more pressure on Collins, but I have no doubt that Collins still puts up similar numbers under those circumstances.

There is absolutely no doubt that Sherron Collins deserves back to back player of the week honors, and, in this [maybe a little biased] posters mind, deserves even more attention than he's getting.

Chris Teegarden 10 years, 10 months ago

I say if Griffin had played Collins would of probably had more points, because less touches for Cole

LAJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

firket2000,

You may very well be right, but with Cole in the game dominating down low, the OU guards had to play a lot more help defense which opened up the floor for Sherron. One would have to assume that with Griffin in the game, that the guards wouldn't have to help out down low as much, thus focusing more attention on Sherron. That's what I meant by more pressure on Collins. Also, Cole may not have gotten those 20 boards, which would have limited our offensive output.

On the other hand, to go along with your point, Collins draining those 3s from 25 feet on consecutive possessions had absolutely nothing to do with whether Griffin was there or not. Collins was in a groove, and maybe, if he needed to, he could've scored more. Who knows.

Jared Grillot 10 years, 10 months ago

Gotta give a big HELL YEAH for Matt Kleinmann. What an awesome prospect for a guy who has done his job, worked to help make our other guys better, and could probably have played bigger minutes for a smaller school, but here he is, loving being a Jayhawk and being just an all around great guy. One more win, and his willingness to be that role player at the end of the bench gets him an honor that no one else has. Awesome.

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