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Monday, March 23, 2009

Keegan

Collins provides plenty to love

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Aldrich shines against Dayton; KU advances to Sweet 16

Cole Aldrich had 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots during today's game against Dayton. It's the first triple-double in Kansas history.

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2009 KU-UD

— For some fans of Kansas University, watching Sherron Collins play basketball can amount to a hate-love relationship with their television sets.

When he makes his defender look like a klutz and finishes with a bucket at the hoop, you scream “Wow!” at your TV. Then you scream “Bad shot!” Then “Wow!” Then, “Bad turnover!” Then, “Wow!” Then, “Bad shot!” Then, “Wow!”

In Sunday’s second-round NCAA Tournament victory against Dayton, there was nothing to hate, or even mildly dislike, about the way Collins played in the shadow of his foot-taller teammate.

On the day center Cole Aldrich had the first recorded triple-double in school history, Collins took amazing care of the basketball without sacrificing any of his relentless aggression.

In helping Kansas reach the Sweet 16 with a 60-43 victory against Dayton, Collins opened the game determined to break down the Flyers’ defense with hard drives to the hoop to set up teammates.

Even after he repeatedly delivered teammates with perimeter shots and they kept missing them, Collins continued to trust them by firing them passes after the defense collapsed on him.

Of his 19 shots from the field, only two or three could be described as bad. Collins was as positive an influence on Kansas offensively as Aldrich (13 points, 20 rebounds, 10 blocked shots) was defensively.

Collins played 35 minutes against the Flyers and didn’t have a single turnover. His low assist total of two was more a function of Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Tyshawn Taylor combining to make two of 14 shots than anything else.

Collins finished with 25 points and seven rebounds, all on the defensive end.

As usual, he led with his chin. His wisdom sometimes can be questioned, but nobody ever doubts his toughness.

“That’s just me,” Collins said. “I think I just grew up that way, just being from Chicago and playing against bigger guys all the time. You know, they knock you down, and you have to get up or you can’t play with them. This is my mind-state, and I ain’t gonna let nobody punk me or my teammates.”

In two games in the Metrodome, Collins averaged 28.5 points and had 10 assists and two turnovers. The most significant number would be the two turnovers.

“Sherron impacts a college game more than any guard I’ve coached because I put more pressure on him, and he has the ball all the time,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Self, who loves tough athletes and is willing to put up with a lot from them in the way of resisting his coaching at times, didn’t hesitate in identifying the source of his lead guard’s toughness.

“The streets of Chicago,” the coach said. “He has one very, very attractive trait to me, that he is ridiculously stubborn and that can be also an unattractive trait. But the bigger the challenges, the more he likes it. He doesn’t always perform at a high level, and sometimes he can get in his own way, but it’s not ever because he doesn’t believe that he belongs.”

Collins playing well in three of the four halves in Minneapolis and Aldrich playing dominant games back-to-back in his hometown left members of the national media wondering if Kansas can make a run at another national title.

“I think we’ve got the potential,” Collins said. “And we’ve just got to put all the things together and play good. I think we can make a run in the tournament. We started one already, so we’re going to Indianapolis and trying to take it one game at a time. Anything happens in March, and that’s why they call it March Madness.”

Even when Collins shoots Kansas out of a game, stubbornly believing he alone can bring his team back from a deep hole, Self tends to be tempered in his criticism of him, tends to protect him.

“I wouldn't trade Sherron for any guard in the country,” Self said after the Dayton game. “But, you know, Jim Boeheim wouldn’t trade Jonny Flynn (Syracuse). Ben Howland wouldn’t trade Darren Collison (UCLA). Roy Williams wouldn’t trade Ty Lawson (North Carolina). There are a lot of good guards out there. And that’s the coaches, that’s how we feel. It doesn’t make us right or whatever. But Sherron fits me.”

Why?

“I love recruiting Chicago, and when I was at Illinois we had pretty good success there, and we’ve had a little bit of success here with Julian (Wright) and Sherron (Collins) and Mario (Little),” Self said. “I just love guys with toughness and love guys who you can’t tell them what they can’t do. If you tell Sherron what he can’t do, it’s just motivation for him to do it. He’s an easy guy to motivate. I think he can go down as one of the most unbelievable success stories, not just because of basketball because of where he came from and how hard it was for him to get out of where he came from. He’s had the deck stacked against him, and now he’s on the level playing field, and we’re just watching him start to grow up and flourish.”

Self doesn’t spend much time studying Collins’ shooting stats.

“One thing I think you should always evaluate a point guard on, there is only one stat that matters, and that’s wins and losses,” Self said. “And you look at the wins that we’ve had this year and the success we’ve had with basically a whole new team and with the youth, I mean, the guy has some intangibles other than the fact that he can really play.”

Next stop for Kansas (27-7) is Indianapolis, where it looks to avenge a January loss to Michigan State. Collins played very poorly in the first half of that one and very well in the second. With two good halves from him and Aldrich, a fourth trip to the Elite Eight in his six years as Kansas coach is a strong possibility for Self, who also made it that far at Tulsa and Illinois.

Comments

actorman 11 years, 2 months ago

I think this is one of Keegan's best columns. Excellent analysis of Sherron and the way fans feel about him, and it was great to get Self's insight on him. It explains more clearly why he lets Sherron get away with sometimes making poor decisions. But I'm pretty confident that he'll have a great game against MSU, given what happened the first time. No matter what happens, this has been a tremendous season, and it's been such a joy to watch the development of this team. Can't wait for Friday!

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 2 months ago

The first time around Sherron was worrying more about his beginner teammates than he was about his own game. By the time he settled down in the second half and just played his game, it was too late. He doesn't feel like he has to watch them and direct their every move anymore. I think Michigan St. may be surprised by how different our team is now.

jchawkfan 11 years, 2 months ago

I thought Sherron was great yesterday. We will be pretty hard to beat with him playing that way. I loved how he tried to get to the rim every time he penatrated. Almost like Mr. Woodside a couple days before.

panalytic 11 years, 2 months ago

This is clearly a timely article reacting to many of the comments. I think Collins has been great all year and has had a fantastic tournament. He has increased his level of play for the post-season. Also, he has been fun to watch and listen to during interviews. He has been more expressive than many players during interviews and has been a lot of fun. I think I will end up remembering him as one of the most fun and exciting KU players.

jrbill67 11 years, 2 months ago

Well, does anyone really miss Roy any more?

KUPROUD 11 years, 2 months ago

This is the point that the butterflies start swarming in my stomach, because I'm excited about the possibilities. I agree with above comments that it's been a great year, but with just a little good fortune, we are playing well enough to compete with any of the remaining teams. With a little rest I think we'll shoot better next Friday. Rock Chalk.

ku98 11 years, 2 months ago

I know where Sherron grew up, it is about 5 miles from where I live, and Coach Self is right when he says he has had the deck stacked against him. Very rough neighborhood... but look at him now. High school All American. NCAA National Champ. Soon to be college All American. Likely NBA player. That's the American dream.

Jayhawk2001 11 years, 2 months ago

Sherron has been my favorite player since his freshman year. He may have passed Paul Pierce as my number 2 favorite all time behind Danny Manning. I just love his toughness, the fact that no shot scares him. We lost some games this year because of him. But we wouldn't have won 27 of them without him. He brings it to every game. Sometimes his shot doesn't fall, but on those days it isn't falling, the other guy's shots aren't falling either. The MVP. If he comes back next year, we will be so good it won't even be funny.

FSUJHAWK 11 years, 2 months ago

This guy is amazing. There is no way Mr. Collins should be denied the Naismith Award or any other accolades out there. Period!!!

Regardless of what happens next, both he and Mr. Aldrich will be forever remembered and loved by Jayhawks everywhere.

RCJH!!!

rockchalk16 11 years, 2 months ago

I am one of the fans guilty of having the love-hate relationship with Collins, but he played a great game yesterday. I hope he can keep it going in the next game. It seemed that on almost every possession, everyone on the floor for KU got to touch the ball before we took a shot.

FSUJHAWK---I agree with you. Both Collins and Aldrich will be remembered for a long time to come. Go Hawks!

cklarock 11 years, 2 months ago

Sherron is the MVP of this year's team, and without him, we might not even be in the tourney, nonetheless the Sweet 16.

Anybody who plays with attacking abandon is going to be out of control some of the time. The credit to Sherron is how few and far between those times truly are. He's the type of point guard I used to dread facing in the NCAAs, and I couldn't be happier that he's a Jayhawk.

shannyvan1 11 years, 2 months ago

This team has exceeded my expectations. I felt we'd be 2nd or third in the Big 12, and make it to the NCAA at the start of the year. About three quarters through the season, a Big 12 championship became a possibility. Then, it seemed like a sweet 16 run might be possible. We have acheived all that. Anything we get now is just gravy. A wonderful way to follow up a NCAA Championship year!

LAJayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Tom Keegan,

Great article. I'm glad you pointed out the reason for Sherron's lack of assists. It is pretty ridiculous that he only came away with 2. I commented in your Keegan Ratings last night that I remember at least 4 wide open shots -- and by wide open I mean guys weren't even within 10 feet thanks to Sherron driving the lane -- that were missed and could have been Collins assists. With they way he distributed the ball he should have had 5 at least, probably closer to the 8 he picked up versus NDSU.

As to Sherron's upbringing, his former high school, Crane, had to hold its home basketball games at 4:30 in the afternoon to an empty gym this year because people kept getting shot. I'd say calling it a "rough neighborhood" is putting it rather lightly.

And AzHawk97,

Great post. Jaybate had a good point the other day (I can't believe I just typed that) saying that you cannot take the greatness of a player without also accepting his faults. Sherron's perceived difficulties are the same parts of his game that make him an All-American. Pushing the action and, as you say, "having the courage to make those decisions and the toughness to lead this team" is what brought us our 5th conference title, 27 wins (so far), and the sweet 16. Asking Sherron to take away that aggressive part of his game is asking to take away Sherron Collins. And that doesn't mean Sherron can't make better decisions at times, but in order to be the phenomenal player he is, he needs to push. And when he pushes, sometimes he will make a mistake. But the biggest reason why he is great is because he never gives up. He simply never gives up. He refused to in the National Championship last year, and he refuses to this year.

And that is what makes him a Jayhawk.

CaramelMacchMan 11 years, 2 months ago

Of the topic but KU fans must take a look at this.

http://www.zagsblog.com/2009/03/22/all-signs-point-to-lance-landing-at-kansas/#comment-1024

Also, a NYU film student did a documentary on him and put it on line.

www.bornready.tv

Mr. Born Ready.

Chris Shaw 11 years, 2 months ago

caramelmacchman: I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was an awesome article and video. I've been waiting for that type of information. Good news and hopefully Great news when he comes to KU. That was the type of information I needed on this Monday of the Sweet 16 week. Thank you very much

Also, How awesome is it to have Danny Manning on our squad? I hope we can keep Danny Manning forever on the KU sidelines, but I have a feeling he is going to be better than John Thompson Sr. as a head coach. Thanks for everything you do Coach Manning! Oh, Danny Boy!

pmohr13 11 years, 2 months ago

So I am hoping that we can go far again this year. Mainly because celebrating on Mass street was so much fun last year. Jayhawks, please make it happen again, please!!!

Tim Chappell 11 years, 2 months ago

Keegan: "On the day center Cole Aldrich had the first recorded triple-double in school history, Collins took amazing care of the basketball without sacrificing any of his relentless aggression."

We need Sherron to keep his relentless aggression while involving the rest of the team. He did that well in these two tourney games. In fact, he did it VERY WELL.

Keegan: "Even after he repeatedly delivered teammates with perimeter shots and they kept missing them, Collins continued to trust them by firing them passes after the defense collapsed on him."

This is what he has to do for us to win against MSU. He must be his aggressive self AND keep delivering those shots to his teammates. If they know he trusts them, they will start hitting those shots.

I personally thought that Collins had more space to do his thing because the Dayton players were afraid to move off of Cole, especially in the second half. That is what happens when we feed the big fella inside.

Collins is the heart and soul of the team, and Cole is the muscle!

Lone_salina_kufan 11 years, 2 months ago

If Sherron is easy to motivate, I've got one for him. Sherron, I hope you read this.... I was listening to some idiot on Sporting News Radio, who is an Arizona fan, that said Arizona had "already beat KU with one hand tied behind our back..what do you'll think we'll do to them now?"
I would relish the opportunity to get back-to-back revenge games!!!!!!

mikehawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Sherron Collins: "This is my mind-state, and I ain’t gonna let nobody punk me or my teammates.”

Bill Self: "I mean, the guy has some intangibles other than the fact that he can really play.”

Some folks call them intangibles, and some folks call them "cahunas."

The young ones on this team know deep down where nobody likes to talk about the way they really feel and what they really fear, that warriors like Sherron have got your back, and it breeds team confidence.

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