Thursday, March 19, 2009

KU needs Collins at his best


It’s D-Day-, Battle of the Bulge- and Iwo Jima-time for Gen. Sherron Collins. As he goes, so, probably, will the Kansas basketball team go in the NCAA Tournament.

As the current season began, coach Bill Self designated Collins as his commander-in-chief for combat. The Chicago junior readily accepted the assignment to make these Jayhawks “my team.” Often he’s been a scintillating leader.

Yet Sherron has had games where he was a flat wheel, such as at Missouri and against Baylor. He won’t be allowed such luxury from here on.

With center Cole Aldrich iffy because of a foot problem, about which an opposing coach such as West Virginia’s Bob Huggins surely has taken special note, KU needs Collins to unfurl two of his finest performances to maneuver his team through the first weekend of the tourney.

Collins keeps us in suspense with erratic ball-handling and bad decisions. Most of the time he’s all-conference caliber, other times far below that level. Take those three late capers against Baylor — air ball, blown layup and turnover. He is, or should be, a lot better than that, and has been. More, more!

The Jayhawks have reached the no-second-chance stage. If North Dakota State’s Bison herd doesn’t spring the major upset some are predicting, Kansas is due to encounter a West Virginia team that is typical Huggie Bear — big, active and quite coarse in court demeanor. I picture aggressive WVU as Hagar the Horrible’s Vikings raiding an English church — only not nearly as funny. Huggins teams are noted for their rough play; they’ll be finely tuned.

The Big East beasts won’t be timid about pushing, jamming and foot-faulting KU’s Aldrich at every opportunity, hoping that boot he’s been wearing off-court for about a month disguises an Achilles heel. These guys would love to shoot that magic arrow, Paris-style, that will disable or at least neutralize Aldrich.

So it’s up to Gen. Collins to jump in a Jeep like George Patton and drive the Jayhawks to victory over the Bison and Mountaineers. If Aldrich is no worse off than he says he is, if the Morris twins provide KU the consistent clutch play it needs at the No. 4 spot and Brady Morningstar does his usual thing Kansas can make the Sweet Sixteen.

But first, Sherron Collins needs to fully justify the coach’s faith in his ability to lead so Kansas can survive and advance.

• Last week, I noted that there are 12 former Kansas basketball players earning annual salaries that collectively amount to some $60 million. The ink had barely dried before people contacted me to see how many of these guys are sending some of their loot to KU in gratitude for its getting them where they are.

A whole host of those in the moneyed Jayhawk family have been tremendously generous, like Bill Hougland, Gil Reich, Wilt Chamberlain, Dean Smith, Gale Sayers, Roy Williams, Bill Self . . . many who don’t want their names outed. And not just for sports.

I know a couple whose will is loaded for KU, with the stipulation that if KU ever reveals their names, the loot is lost. Little wonder that KU financial sources are reluctant to say much about aid from athletes, unless they allow such. Many don’t.

Rest assured that KU jocks in all sports have been far more generous than we usually are allowed to know.


Dirk Medema 12 years, 8 months ago

Sherron indeed needs to lead the team, but not particularly by making plays. That seemed to be a lesson that was learned months ago. His most improtant leadership is not in the shots he is taking, or was that in not taking shots. It is all the other stuff a leader does (behind the scenes, where no stats are tallied) to make his team better. That is the leadership we really need from Sherron.

Sure, he will likely take more shots than anyone else, and probably lead us in scoring, but it can't be a one man show, or even a one-on-one show. This game could easily tempt him to think so.

IMO, it is a cross between a post TO series in the second half of the game at KState (?) and the last second shot of every half this year.

At KState, Coach called a TO, and it was obvious on the next possessions what his message was, because Sherron brought the ball up court and immediately went inside to Cole. I believe the middle pass was fumbled out of bounds, but the others were gimmes and 66% is a nie precentage. By this time, everyone should know that KU is better than 50% on the last shot of the half, and it is almost always the same thing. Sherron controls the ball/timing, attacks, draws an extra defender, and kicks it out to the open Tyrel/Brady who nails a 3.

That's the leadership we need from Sherron. The other is whining about failures when trying to be a super-hero and fails, tho we ironically don't say much when he tries and succeeds (OU). If Sherron controls things (himself and the games tempo), feeds his friends as mentioned above plus an ocassional bit of domination from Tyshawn & Marcus who have no match from NDSU, we will be more than fine and Sherron will still have 20/6/<2TO's.

Rock Chalk

davelass 12 years, 8 months ago

Don't get me wrong I love Sherron but being the "leader" of this team it will be hard for him not to shoulder the bulk of shots. That being said, Sherron was Sherron last year because he came in loose and knew he had around four to five minutes to run his tail off and be the role player he was i.e. dishing the ball, having a high energy pace, and not worrying about making plays. Many talk about being in the flow of the game and that is what he does best i.e. Oklahoma sans Griffin. When he has confidence in his other players to make shots it's easier for him to make better decisions and get everyone involved i.e. K-Suck at home and Texas in the 2nd half.

Taylor and the Morris twins need to have a better than most impact during the first five minutes of every game in this tournament in order for KU to go deep. Aldrich is a big game player and I really believe if KU overachieves and gets to the sweet 16+ he's gone next year.

No matter what, the best 8 minutes of his career thus far has been his performance against N.C. last year in the FF. I don't even want to mention that worthless no talent hack's name, who also hails from the disgusting state of Mizery, but coming in as a freshman and dominating a P.O.Y. candidate says it all. I truly hope every team worrying about Kansas in the tournament focuses on shutting down the guard play. Closer shots amount to better shooting percentages and easier rebounds for Cole, and we've all seen what happens when Cole gets 15+ off the boards.

The way KU matured in late Jan. early Feb. I see no reason why a rubber match between them and Mich.St. wouldn't happen. Def. two teams that have flipped flopped roles as of late. Obviously with all this said, the ultimate bottom lines are this. Will Sherron shoot better than 40 percent from the floor, can the twins take an inspiration from Cole's performance as a Frosh in the NCAAs and stay out of foul trouble and take meaningful shots, and can the defense of Taylor, Morningstar, and Reed, in that order, handle the 2 and 3 spots long enough for KU to establish a post presence. Also, look out for Releford to get some important minutes with Little struggling to find his shot and play defense. I love Releford's slashing style and him not being afraid to take it to the hole and draw the foul. Your thought's?

keith horinek 12 years, 8 months ago

Last night on the Dick Vitale show, er ah, I mean ESPN, the fan poll had KU winning by a 95% margin. Just FYI.....

KANSTUCKY 12 years, 8 months ago

Cole will be fine. He's the toughest kid in the Big XII. Little just needs to relax, he has a knack for the hole. Releford is a great spark off the bench if he would just take care of the ball a little better. Morningstar plays better "D" when he's hitting and vice-versa. In regards to Michigan State, when was the last time KU lost to the same team twice?

Rock_Chalk_NYC 12 years, 8 months ago

Two things.

First, Sherron needs to play great every game of the tournament or we lose.

Second, Cole needs to play with aggressiveness every game or we have a good chance to lose. What i mean by this is two fold: when you get the ball, for the love of god, do something with it! & attack the boards with the same tenacity you did when you ate Tyler "The Flopper" Hansbrough's lunch!

Its that simple.

Either way, I love this team and lets go get 'em!!!!

KUbsee69 12 years, 8 months ago

Sherron is a key ... not the key. It's a team sport!

Also, Mayer, let's not rewrite history by giving too much credit to General Officers. I hope Sherron performs like a Gunnery Sergeant. As most Generals wrote in their memoirs, including GSP Jr, "once the first bullet flies, the plan is out the window and battles are won at the squad level, led by sergeants". The individual initiative granted to squad, platoon, and company commanders is what made the major difference between victory and defeat against the Axis. Generals only observed the results.

So, Gunny Collins, lead the KU squad into battle and emerge victorious.


chicagoeddie 12 years, 8 months ago


Greg Lux 12 years, 8 months ago

For KU to win it needs to shoot good not great, Rebound (aka Block out) Great. Defend well enough to create more turnovers then they give up. Score with Balance not just Sherron, Cole but Marcus, Markieff, Mario, Roger and Tyshawn all need to put up points. The M&M boys need to dominate the offensive glass and keep themselves in the game ( no cheap fouls ). Cole needs to dominate defensively inside without getting into foul trouble (aka Guards need to stop penetration ). and lastly use there 3/4 court press to wear down the opponent and create easy baskets off of turnovers. Sounds simple doesn't it. LOL . It is on paper. If I was to pick a couple of players who need to have great games exempting S & C it would be Marcus, Markieff and Tyshawn. Adding Mario if they play zone. I think they will be the keys to victory. IMHO that is. Give m H Hawks you have the talent, you have the backing, You find the way.

Rock Chalk ..

d_prowess 12 years, 8 months ago

I really wished we were not playing North Dakota State in the first round, because I would have been a huge fan given some of the comments from their coach. Check out this gem:

"North Dakota State's Saul Phillips said he should coach in a gorilla suit because he heard Kansas' Bill Self say the Jayhawks don't play well when they're distracted."

Tony Bandle 12 years, 8 months ago

At the rate the media hype is going, it will be the biggest upset of the tournament if KU DOESN'T get upset. Sheeeesh!!!!!

John Brown 12 years, 8 months ago

Paul Pierce and Mario Chalmers were the players of the game in the Boston, Miami game. Thought it was cool to see to Jayhawks doing well in the league.

cklarock 12 years, 8 months ago

@jbrownjib: I thought the same thing. Rock Chalk!

Ben Kliewer 12 years, 8 months ago

Seriously? Cole leaves after this year? I really doubt he will. Watching him as a player, he is definitely not ready to bolt yet. And saying he's going to leave if we make it to the Sweet 16? I'd say if we won it all again this year he'd leave, but I really doubt he's going to be gone from KU for the 09-10 season. I don't think his game is ready for the NBA. I could be wrong, but I'd be really surprised.

jaybate 12 years, 8 months ago


You make a wise point about individuals and squads having to carry the load when the battleplan drawn by generals inevitably breaks down. But generals must not only draw up plans doomed to fail, they must draw up plans that when they do fail default the battlespace into a place where inspire squads and individuals can act with courage and initiative they have been indoctrinated with, plus improvise strategy and tactics consistent with achieving victory once the plan fails. Great generals can do this. If a general creates a plan that fails into a situation so hopeless that individuals and squads with courage initiative cannot improvise a win; that is the mark of a lesser general.

All victory requires improvisation--both bottom up and top down.

Great generals shape the battle space with planning that either exploits advantage, or failing that, defaults into individual advantage of smaller units improvising.

jaybate 12 years, 8 months ago

Here's what I have heard about NDSU and Saul Phillips:

If you cut the head off, the body dies. We will cut the head off NDSU immediately. Its body will die. If it lingers, we will dismember it and feed it to dogs. Put that on your players stinking bulletin board, Coach Phillips.

100 12 years, 8 months ago

He'll be at his best.

It's Taylor & Cole who need to really bring it, offensively speaking.

The entire team needs to toughen up, defensively speaking, but that's a given.

If Taylor freshman psychology "clicks", we could go a long ways -- we need that consistent 3rd scoring threat (aside from Morningstar or Reed from outside, and the occassional slop basket from the twins).

In short, we need a third, if pressed, can score from anywhere. Enough so, that he draws defenders. That will relieve so much pressure off the others...

It's gotta be Taylor.


Clarence Haynes 12 years, 8 months ago

Somebody likes Sherron...he's a second team All American! Point blank, the youngsters will have to step up and support Sherron and Cole, thereby not necessitating risky play on their part.

Lance Hobson 12 years, 8 months ago

Iwo Jima is now called Iwo To - Clint Eastwood didn't get the memo. Japanese troops who occupied it during WWII mistakenly called it Iwo Jima and the name stuck. Kind of ironic that they didn't even get the name right considering how "sacred" they said it was in making their soldiers defend it to the death.

This game with NDSU may not be so dire as taking Iwo To, but it certainly won't be easy. Rock Chalk!

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