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Sunday, March 22, 2009

His time to lead

Spotlight shines bright on Collins in NCAA Tournament

Kansas junior guard Sherron Collins is surrounded by media members in the Jayhawks’ locker room on Saturday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Collins, who most KU players call their team leader, has gotten off to a stellar start so far in the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas junior guard Sherron Collins is surrounded by media members in the Jayhawks’ locker room on Saturday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Collins, who most KU players call their team leader, has gotten off to a stellar start so far in the NCAA Tournament.

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GameDay Cram Session: NCAA Tournament, Game Two - Dayton

KUSports.com online editor Jesse Newell & Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan take a look at what to expect during the Jayhawk men's basketball team's second NCAA Tournament matchup.

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Kansas guards Conner Teahan and Sherron Collins have a laugh as they leave the Metrodome following a day of interviews and practice Saturday March 21, 2009.

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Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles as he takes questions during a press conference Saturday March 21, 2009 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

— Sherron Collins, who is well on his way to becoming the most accomplished basketball alumnus of Chicago’s Crane Tech High School, learned the tricks of the point-guard trade from his idol, fellow Crane graduate Will Bynum.

“One of his favorite sayings is, ‘You’ve got to be a dog. Always be hungry.’ That’s my motto. I always say, ‘Let’s eat,’’’ Collins, Kansas University’s 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior pit bull, said Saturday.

He was speaking a day after ravaging North Dakota State for 32 points and eight assists against two turnovers.

That tasty 38-minute effort — as well as the 23-point, 13-rebound outing of center Cole Aldrich — propelled the Jayhawks to an 84-74 victory and berth in today’s 1:30 p.m., second-round NCAA Midwest Regional battle against Dayton.

“I can have an OK night, not an off night,” Collins said, asked if he had to have a “great game” for the Jayhawks to advance to the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis.

“My teammates are good enough to carry me when things aren’t going well. We have a lot of players that can step up. But I have to play well most of the time.”

Collins, who today faces a tough matchup in junior London Warren (nine assists, one turnover in Dayton’s 68-60 first-round victory over West Virginia), hoisted a career-high 26 shots on Friday, making 12.

It marked the first time all season KU won a game in which Collins had more than 20 shot attempts.

The Jayhawks lost previous 20-shot outings against Syracuse, UMass and Baylor.

“I don’t think it was too many. I think I was in the flow in the first half,” said Collins, who scored seven of KU’s first 12 points and 13 of 18 in helping the Jayhawks nab an 18-17 lead. “Coach (Bill) Self said all my shots were good, except three or four. There will be games I shoot that many shots.”

Self had no problem with Collins taking 26 shots on a day North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside exploded for 37 points off 13-of-23 shooting.

“If Sherron didn’t shoot the ball early, we weren’t going to score,” Self said. “It (first NCAA game) was hard on our newcomers.

“I think the right number for him yesterday would have been 22. He took some shots where I think he kind of bailed them out by not driving the ball. He also got our guys shots, especially in late-game situations.”

Collins’ teammates bristled when asked about criticism of Collins from fans on the Internet who say the Jayhawks won’t go far if he continues to take 25 or more shots per game.

“I’d say to those people, ‘He’s the leader of our team. We need him to make shots,’’’ freshman Markieff Morris said. “We needed most all of those 26 shots.”

Noted Morris’ brother, Marcus: “They weren’t bad shots. They were tough shots. We needed him, and he delivered. As many shots as he needs to take. If we are to win, I have no problem with it.”

Junior Mario Little also stood up for his fellow Chicago native, who takes a team-leading 18.7-point scoring average into today’s game.

“That’s people talking who probably never touched a basketball their whole life,” Little said of critics counting Collins’ attempts. “He doesn’t care about what they say. We don’t, either. Sherron does things no other point guards can do. I’ll give him a 9.5 or a 10 (out of 10) every time you ask me to rate him.

“He’s a great leader. He’s learned to pull everybody in, not single anybody out. He tells everybody that if we are going to win, it’ll take all of us,’’ Little added.

Collins wasn’t as positive a force early in the season when he was learning about leading while on the job.

“One time he yelled at me while we were on the court. It was the middle of the Siena game at Allen Fieldhouse,” Marcus Morris said. “I came to him at the timeout and said, ‘You can do that in the locker room. Don’t do it in front of everybody. Everybody can see you do that.’

“Now ... I can’t remember the last time he yelled at me. He might do it at practice, but most of the time we’re laughing.”

Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor, who said he considers Collins a “brother figure,” also remembers being the recipient of stern lectures from the emotional floor general.

“I took it as him picking on me,” Taylor said. “I took it as nitpicking. Now I understand it was constructive criticism. I took it wrong.”

Taylor remembers when he saw the error of his own ways.

“When we started winning,” Taylor said. “I thought to myself, ‘Sherron knows what he’s talking about. He’s been here. He knows.’

“He’s the leader of our team, hands down. We all listen to him.”

Collins said it was a conscious decision for him to back off the rookies.

“I was frustrated earlier in the season when they made mistakes,” Collins said. “Tyshawn, Marcus Morris ... coach expected so much from them. He was on them real bad so I backed off. I didn’t want to be on them, too. I learned to say things in a polite way and still let them know when they are messing up.”

As far as to how long Collins will continue to lead the team ... he’s not sure.

It’s possible he’ll leave school after three years.

He’d like to play in the NBA some day, like his buddy, Bynum of the Detroit Pistons.

“I don’t even think about that. I’ve not thought about leaving. Right now, I’m staying,” Collins said. “There’s no pressure (to leave). Everything is fine. I’ve got a kid, but he has a terrific mother. We’ve got a family where we all help out a lot. I’m not in any rush.”

Collins, who ranks No. 27 on KU’s all-time scoring list (1,285 points), could finish in the top five if he remains a final year.

Depending on how the future goes, the man with one national title could wind up with his jersey hanging in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters.

“Absolutely,” KU coach Self said. “Both he and Cole ... those two potentially could have their jerseys up there.”

“Hopefully that will happen to me one day,” Collins said. “That would be the biggest honor. Right now, I don’t look at records. I didn’t even know I was over 1,000 points. There’s no time to pay attention to things like that.”

Right now, heading into today’s game, he’s on top of the college basketball world.

“He’s always happy. He always wants to rap, always wants to dance,” Markieff Morris said.

“I’m confident. It’s been fun leading these young guys, a lot of fun. We don’t want it to stop,” Collins stated.

Comments

Ed Fox 10 years, 10 months ago

Lots of interesting stuff in that article. The comments about the internet chatter (likely a lot of which refers to a number of posters on this site), coming from the team, is a very interesting angle. I like seeing those guys stick up for Sherron like that, this team isn't nearly as good without him (probably NIT-bound) and I often wonder if people understand how much the young guys' improvement is directly attributable to spending their time on the court with Sherron.

CaramelMacchMan 10 years, 10 months ago

BannerforKirk

You are wrong!

With Sherron playing good this team can win another Title.

But without Sherron, i'm sure this team will make it to the NCAA tourney!

jayhawker_97 10 years, 10 months ago

aha! the team obviously read these posts. well, congrats then! it takes guts, hearts, skills and a great team like you guys to go this far, beyond most people expectation. you've beaten how many teams that are currently in the tourney now? Siena, Tennee, Washington, Temple, the big-12 crowds... that says a lot for a team that's not even playing together for 1 season!!! freakin' AWESOME!!!! i may not the best post-er here that can give glorious opinions or insights on how you guys beat the crap out of those teams, but maaaaaaaaan..... this has been a GREAT RUN so far.. and i don't really care if we go to sweet 16 or not, i truely believe the current Jayhawks can soar like an eagle! proudly supporting you guys all the way!!!!

go Jayhawks!!!!!!!!

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree with BannerforKirk...w/o Sherron, we're NIT-bound, at the most.

Light it up today, Sherron!!!

kuwillkillit 10 years, 10 months ago

Bechard, Kleinmann, Buford, reed, morningstar, releford, little, collins, taylor, marcus, markeff, appleton, teahan, thomas, juenemann, aldrich, withey. Good work. Now lets kick some flyer assssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!

easyfive 10 years, 10 months ago

Don't blame KU fans, for some of the negitive feedback!

There are many MU fans on here acting like KU people on this site. Trying to throw a monkey wrench in what ever KU is doing. Not just MU, but KSU, OU, NU are at free will to say anything they feel.

So, don't blame KU fans for saying that. I even heard KU people talking to MU fans on here. Read the sign.

"Don't feed the trolls".

NH_JHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

1 down 5 to go. I believe when Sherron is on and playing his game we can compete with (and beat) anyone in the country. Given that possibility there is tremendous upside opportunity with this tournament as it only takes one game at a time. Let's jump on these guys right out of the gate and show them no mercy. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! WIN TODAY!

KU1979 10 years, 10 months ago

easyfive is right -- lots of "socks" from the rivals doing their shenanigans. So, guys, don't read this crap. We do it for fun, and because we care, but don't listen to any of the criticism. Bill Self has more basketball knowledge is his little pinkie, and more "wont to,"... oh, wait, that was another guy. Anyway...don't pay any attention to the negative stuff!

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

This article puts everything in perspective! Well said Mr. Bedore. This was great timing and perfect quotes for the Sherron Collins Bashers (Mr. or Mrs. Theutus). Couldn't agree more with Self. Who was going to step in the early going of the game? Sherron did what he had to do. Yes, I do think Collins jacked a few bad shots, but as Self said, 22 shots were probably a little more realistic. Having played a little ball, I can understand what Collins was thinking. When you're in the "Flow" like that, it does make you feel like you can hit a number of shots. He did shoot 12-26 for the game.

I understand the perspective some of the fans have towards Collins and he has had some bad games (Umass, Tech, and Baylor), but 3 games vs the rest of season shouldn't be the mark for all the negativity. Guys are going to have bad games.

Sherron, if you read this, keep doing what you're doing. When your teammates can finally take some of the pressure off you during the game then and only then will your bashers come to their senses and stop complaining. I came to understand that when Markieff, Little, Morningstar, Taylor, and yourself are in the game; you really only have one option when that happens during the game. Your teammates defer to you in those situations and I don't think "Some Fans" truly understand how many different groups of players Sherron Collins sees in a KU unifrom during the course of the game. Sherron is always having to constantly juggle his mindset on who is and who isn't in the game for the Jayhawks. Last year, there was a constant rotation and some consistency between 8 players to the rotation. As Forest Gump said, "Life is like a box of choclates, you never know what you're going to get". The same could be said about the rotation for the 2008-2009 Kansas Jayhawks. Keep playing, working, and being aggressive for the Jayhawks. Win or lose, my opinion of Collins will not change. He is the leader on a team where the "Young-ins" haven't completely blossomed yet. Maybe the "Young-Ins" will prove me wrong. It's the NCAA tournament and 64 out 65 teams will lose their final game. Good luck today and let's hope we can get to the Sweet 16 so the bashers don't come out in flocks after the game.

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

As much as I like Collins scoring 32, we've got to get more balanced scoring in this tournament. The problem with the current scenario is that one off night/day for Sherron and we are done. It's been that way all year for this team. Granted, there have been some games where we have obviously had other guys step up, but more often than not, when Collins is having an "off game", so is the rest of the team. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. This is the big dance, gentlemen. We need some Scooter Berrys and some Milt Newtons! Come on guys, step up your game! You guys could pull this tournament off...it's not out of reach. I truly believe we've got a shot in this tournament with Aldrich and the Morris twins inside. But everyone has to step up and play like men. Go hawks!

Greg Lux 10 years, 10 months ago

Balance = Morningstar, Reed, Morris, Morris, Little,Taylor AND Collins, Aldrich. Yes there are others who can contribute also ... but those 8 KEY players need to all contribute if we are to advance down the yellow brick road. I would love it if sherron would get morningstar, reed and morris involved early with Cole and then himself. When Sherron takes the game under his wings then we stop looking offensively balanced. We can win with Sherron and Cole, but we will have a better chance of winning with all the players contributing .. I would love to see 6 players in double figures in the press clippings. Give em H today guys your supporters are behind you all the way.

Rock Chalk

hometownhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Haha, the players DON'T read this stuff. It said "when asked about criticism of Collins from fans on the internet." They could care less what "#1jhokfan4ever" thinks of Sherron's shot selection... until the media stirs the pot by inserting "fans" in place of themselves. When reporters say certain fans think Sherron shoots too much, they're just too cowardly to say "I think Sherron shoots too much"

wischalk 10 years, 10 months ago

I want Sherron taking 20 shots a game... in the normal flow of the game. There is no one else on this team who can score as consistently . The only problem that MOST people have is: (1) A fear, expressed above, that if we rely on Collins that much and the rest team starts watching more than playing, we'll be hard up if Sherron has a bad shooting night. I'm not particularly concerned about this as I think he does a great job getting others involved most of the time. What bothers many (including me) is (2) The "play" where we come down the court, Sherron dribbles around up top for a few seconds, pulls some crazy And-1 Mix Tape style moves on his man, and jacks up a well-guarded jumper. That is frustrating. It doesn't get anyone else involved, and more often that not, he doesn't get a good shot. Of course, the guy is so damn talented that, more often that not, he also sticks it. If we work it around have have some actual ball movement in the half court, and it comes back to Sherron for a good perimeter look, I'd be happy if he took 35 shots a game. There is no one else I have as much confidence in on this team. Likewise, if he takes it himself through the defense and makes a play at the cup without ever passing, that's also a solid play. If we work the ball around and run through the offense but no one has gotten a clean look and the shot clock is running down... well then, that's the time I am thrilled we have Sherron over almost anyone else in the country, because when he needs to create his own shot from nothing, there are few better in the college game. If the clock is running down, I want it in his hands to shoot or create for others every time. I just wish the zero-passes-and-guarded-long-range jumper trips down the court didn't happen... but I agree with Coach Self, that only happened about 5-6 times last game, and he made several of them. If Coach is happy, I'm happy. I don't think anyone can complain about the leadership from Collins. He kept us in it early when a lot of the new guys had some early tourney jitters, and there is certainly nothing wrong with 8 assists to 2 TOs. I'm looking for another big game from Sherron today!

Pam McCormick 10 years, 10 months ago

Sherron is not perfect, but he is awesome most of the time.

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 10 months ago

To Marcus Morris: You needed alot of yelling earlier in the year. I am shocked you have the gall to tell Sherron not to do it. After all, you yelled at the refs and got a reputation on the court. Sherron didn't do that, you did.

Dillon Davis 10 years, 10 months ago

We're going to go as far as Cole and Sherron take us. If they play well then the rest of the team will play well. Simple as that. Yes they'll have to some help but basically it's up to them.

kennethst 10 years, 10 months ago

Where is Theutus today?? Anyone know?

Wonder what he thinks of this article.

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Well said, Keithmile. I wanted to post that earlier about Morris, but wanted to stay positive. Anyway, lots of good posts here on Collins and this team.

Just wanted to say that I agree whole-heartedly that in a good offensive flow, there is nothing wrong with Collins shooting 20 times...heck shoot 50 times. He's our best player hands down.

We seriously need some guys to step up in this tournament though. I don't see them having a problem with Dayton today unless they pull a Baylor game and just overlook them. But in the days to come, if we don't have a strong effort from everyone on this team we are packing in the third round.

speedy 10 years, 10 months ago

strange! i have the strangest reaction to these postings today. whats going on?? bashing or not bashing? for years ku has needed a shooter/scorer player. we finally get one and now all people do is neg. comments. this years team is amazing. just shut up and cheer. which do you want a S.Curry who stands around and waits to shoot or a leader like Collins???

cklarock 10 years, 10 months ago

kennethst said: "Where is Theutus today?? Anyone know?"

Columbus, MO, just like yesterday.

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