Sunday, March 9, 2008


Keegan: Jayhawks better with healthy Collins


Audio clips

2007-08 March 8 KU-Texas A&M Hoops

— It has been awhile since the "What's wrong with Kansas?" question that led to so much insomnia has been asked with any credibility. It also has been awhile since Sherron Collins' knee has prevented him from performing high-speed magic shows with the basketball.

A coincidence? Uh, no.

Collins steered the Jayhawks to a 72-55 regular-season-finale victory Saturday against a Texas A&M; team that just didn't have the speed to keep pace.

With Collins looking more like his healthy self, Kansas defeated Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M; by an average margin of victory of 29.3 points, a figure inflated by the 58-point slaughter of Tech. During that season-ending stretch, Collins averaged 14.7 points, had 14 assists and two turnovers.

He never was better than Saturday, when in 32 minutes he totaled 13 points with seven assists and not a single turnover.

Collins sends a defense scrambling in a way no other KU player can, and he, more than anybody on the offensive side, was responsible for the greatest statistical disparity on the box score, a 44-12 points-in-the-paint advantage for the Jayhawks.

Former Kansas point guard Mark Turgeon, who coached against his alma mater for the first time Saturday, marveled at the influence Collins had on the game.

"That's a quick team," Turgeon said. "Texas is fast and quick, but that's another level today. And when Sherron Collins plays like that, boy, it could be their year, if he stays healthy. He was really, really good today."

Foot surgery sidelined Collins early in the season, and a bruised knee slowed him more recently. Without him at his best, Kansas looked as if it lacked energy. What it really lacked was the advantage of having a man who consistently blows by his man and basically sets up a 5-on-4 advantage.

When Collins blew by his man, he knew where to get the ball, feeding Darrell Arthur (16 points). Mario Chalmers (16 points, four steals), per usual doing a little bit of everything at both ends, also had a big day.

"I thought Shady was great in the first half," KU coach Bill Self said of Arthur. "Mario was great the majority of the game. But there was a stretch in the second half it was Sherron's game. He controlled the game. That's something people that follow us know we haven't had consistently at all this year, and, hopefully, we can continue to get better and progress and get him playing with that full head of steam that he has. I don't know if he's got an extra gear, but he's so low to the ground."

And so clever with the ball at such high speeds. Once, Collins drove into a crowded lane, and the only way he could get where he needed to go was to dribble behind his back, and he did it so quickly those who blinked probably missed it.

With a healthy Collins, KU's two greatest strengths, quickness and depth, become so much louder.

"They've got seven or eight starters, it seems like," Turgeon said. "There's no drop-off when they sub. You line us up in a foot race, it's not even close. They're fast."

And seemingly peaking just in time.


Michael Auchard 14 years, 8 months ago

Boy, it looked like A&M just gave up a few times during the game. They didn't look as bad as Tech last game, but they were pretty sad in the second half. As far as Collins, it's great to see him bull dozing down the court again. I have to wonder, though, why most of this article wasn't written last week. Sher Ron-Ron has been playing like this for three games now.

It's good to see him back!

This is much like when I first saw symptoms of Brandon Rush acting like "'Ol BR" (as I like to call him).

Other than the officials bullying Darnell "Papa" Jackson and D.arth Ur (the Dark Lord of the Sith from Dallas) into foul trouble, I thought the Hawks regulated like Warren G and Nate Dogg on a clear black night.

Much love, much respect to the Hawks.

1977kufan 14 years, 8 months ago

Great article, Tom and right on the money. Yesterday, was our best "on the road" performance and Sherron led the way. I must admit, his supporting cast (actually his teammates in blue) made him look even better. Supporting cast is certainly not approriate for these guys--more like, they are a part of the Jayhawk basketball tradition (everyone of the them). "We're going to Kansas City, Kansas City here we come". ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS!!!

Kirk 14 years, 8 months ago

Anybody who hasn't known this for at least a year is simply out to lunch. Collins makes THE difference.

JJHawq 14 years, 8 months ago

Thank goodness he's back... ol Sherron.

hometownhawk 14 years, 8 months ago

Nice column, and true... but Keegan's articles always have the most "Duh" headlines. "Jayhawks good at basketball" "Darrell Arthur is tall" Definitely need headlines that don't state extremely obvious facts.

Greg Lux 14 years, 8 months ago

Nicely said Keegan... KU has been looking for a leader... I think they have found one in Collins. He is slowly taking control of this team and it shows. Chalmers is starting to step up and be the scorer that we badly need ... NOW RUSH? We still need you and you need to do the things you can do so well... just be tougher with those driving shots... its ok to get fouled but knock them down also... you have the ability and we need you to help keep the balance. With Collins, Chalmers, Rush and Robinson penetrating and dishing out for open shots we are an awesome team. Then you add Arthur and Jackson inside we become unstoppable if we control the ball and make good passes. We are passing up a lot of pick and roll openings so I assume we are waiting to use that offense for a later time. Shady was open a number of times on the pick and roll without getting a pass from his teammates. If you expect them to work hard on the pick & roll we need to reward them with a pass now and then. I see nothing but good things for this team if they stay healthy and focused. 88 to 08 I see the magic... Rock Chalk Jayhawks

jaybate 14 years, 8 months ago

Dear Tom,

Assume: KU Player A plays better.

Next assume: KU team does not improve, because of KU Player A's improved play.

Question: which actual KU player improving would not make the KU team better?

Your article raises and then begs this question.

Expand on this in another story.

No, on second thought, don't.

jaybate 14 years, 8 months ago


I agree TA&M looked like a bunch of big bullies who backed down when a little guy punched back hard.

Turgeon's got a problem.

Talk about a team without a leader.

These one and done freshman are frankly more trouble than they are worth, when they lack mental toughness coming in, as Jordan appears to. It takes more than one seaon to acquire mental toughness, if you aren't born with it, just like it takes more than one season to learn to learn a lot of things if you don't already know how.

Jordan lacks want to and toughness when he isn't clearly advantaged in a match-up. Double teams turn him into a submissive.

Joseph Jones seems not yet to have bought into Turgeon's approach.

Josh Carter, a great potential player, lacks the intensity to lead yet.

Finally, there is a great difference between beating people you can intimidate and beating people you can't intimidate.

Beating the latter mean you're a good team that finds ways to win.

Beating the former is just a practice game.

cobweb 14 years, 8 months ago

Collins, Jackson, Chalmers and Arthur are all better players than Rush, who is the most overrated player in the Big 12.

Dan Harris 14 years, 8 months ago

Collins will take our Hawks to the promise land!

86finalfour 14 years, 8 months ago

Amen...been saying it all along...Collins is the cocktails that stirs the jayhawks!

Collins is a beast!

Ben Kane 14 years, 8 months ago

is anybody else sick of the Brandon Rush floater where he drives the lane and just lets the ball go instead of shooting it? He never seems to make them...

Ted Toulouse 14 years, 8 months ago

Does anyone else think that the fact we looked sluggish for so long without Collins being able to play is a testament to Self's inability to coach around road blocks that inevitably pop up during the season? Just food for thought. Because it seemed like there could have been some offensive coaching adjustments to compensate for our poor scoring performances during that stretch. It's also kind of scary to think that with all of the talent on this team, there's only one player that can, as Keegan puts it "consistently blow by his man."

NH_JHawk 14 years, 8 months ago

Congratulations Sherron! He's the key to our run down the stretch and he's coming on strong at the right time.

Consensus building (nationally) re: UCLA

  • Gary Parrish at CBS:

"UCLA has replaced Georgetown as the team that most often wins because of controversial calls or no-calls."

hawk_4237 14 years, 8 months ago

Wow!! What commentator, national or regional, hasn't said the exact same thing over the past 2 weeks. We all see this and think it. Keegan, do us a favor and use those press creditials to get an inside story that we don't all see. Hell, I think Fran Fraschilla and Ron Franklin (who still thinks JaRon Rush plays for KU) made comments about this.

justanotherfan 14 years, 8 months ago


Sherron has been hurt for most of the year beginning in late November (if I remember correctly) until about two weeks ago. Through December and January, prior to the K-State loss, we were manhandling people. Granted, we struggled during our toughest stretch of the year, but during that time we encountered three things that could all potentially derail a team -

1) Injuries - not only to Sherron, but there were little nicks on several other players. Add in that Rush is returning from a serious knee injury and that is a huge potential problem.

2) Foul trouble - although we are deep, when guys like Arthur, Jackson, Rush and Chalmers are all in foul trouble during several "big" games, that tends to hurt the performance of the team.

3) Death - this last one is tough to coach around because its inhuman to ask someone to ignore the death of a loved one. To have that happen twice in one week is even more unlikely (and tragic).

To have all of those things happen while at the same time negotiating the meat of the conference schedule, and emerge as the co-champions is a testament to Self being able to coach around major road blocks and not let the team slip out of the 1 seed conversation. A Big XII tournament title probably gives us a #1. What else do you want a coach to do with the regular season? I guess he could win all of the games, while losing two or three of his top scholarship players and being forced to start walkons because he doesn't have enough healthy bodies, but that seems like its pushing it to me.

Ted Toulouse 14 years, 8 months ago

Justanother- Good points, well taken. It truly is nit-picking considering we're 28-3. We seem to be regaining strength and momentum, which is great!

Concerning Keegan's assesment of Collings - I don't know if I fully agree with Collins being the only guy able to consistently blow by people, but he does seem to make things happen on his own better than the rest of the team. And it also seems that recently successful tournament teams have had that "break you down" kind of guard that can snap a team out of a mid-game scoring funk. Chalmers does fairly well with this too. I just hope everyone stays healthy through the tourneys.

speedy 14 years, 8 months ago

watched some of the zag game. micah downs avg. 8.4 pts this year. hows that compare with his other ku class of recruits?

Mylantahawk 14 years, 8 months ago

A healthy Sherron is a MUST if the Jayhawks hope to advance at the dance. He's such a spark off the bench. Self's got a great guard contingent going into the dance.

The slump was, at least in part, due to extended family deaths of two players on the team. I feel that the Jayhawks are peaking at the right time. Their bench is second to none in the tourney.

The one thing that concerns me is our lack of defense against a hot three-shooting team. Somehow we don't match up well on the perimeter. This could be a potential achille's heal in the dance.

Our defense (inside the ark) and rebounding are the hallmark's of this team. I think that this could be a special year if they play to their potential. Self's done a good job crafting this team's skills, and they clearly have excellent chemistry.

Will Babbit 14 years, 8 months ago

Speedy: See David Padgett...12pts/game and 5 rebounds/game.

janeyb 14 years, 8 months ago

When KU played OState the guys couldn't pull off their man to double team Eaton without someone hitting a three. OSate didn't hit like that against Texas. They could triple team Eaton, and, face it, the refs were not going to allow Eaton to drive in like he did against Kansas. In the Big Twelve the home court advantage is huge, and all the other teams seem to bring it all for Kansas. The tournament this week on a neutral court will give everyone a better idea how all the teams are playing.

ralsterKUMed95 14 years, 8 months ago

I will take Darnell Jackson's 13-14ppg ANYDAY over Padgett. And I will take RussRob's 8-9ppg (done a variety of ways) ANYDAY over Micah Downs. I dont give a rat's azz how Padgett, Galindo, Downs, Giddens, Axtell, or any other whiney-butt is doing AFTER they themselves chose to "opt out" of the Jayhawk tradition. What our own Darwinism has weeded out and left us with is probably one of the most talented, touted, yet TEAM-oriented teams Div1 ball has seen for quite awhile. One can point to recent "teams" that embody this philosophy like Duke this year (4 or 5 guys in double figures for the season), or Florida last year (pretty balanced), or even UCLA last year (like a clone of us--but they got lady luck, that's the only difference in that game...). But I will always be fond of the character shown by THIS group of KU men through the adversity--win or lose any game, they have won my heart by being a class bunch. Their parents have to be most proud!

Jacobpaul81 14 years, 8 months ago

This is just another column in which Keegan gets to express his undying love for Sheron Collins. Is he the only player that will speak to you? Is that why we have to read this crap from you week in and week out?

Collins getting healthy is important to Kansas. I won't question this fact. We need 7-8 healthy top tier players in order to make the championship. As much love as I have for stewart, case and reed, not one of the three are skilled enough to maintain the pressure created by RR and Mario.

However, the idea of Collins leading the team to victory is quite the biased opinon. That's like saying that manu ginobli is the guiding force of spurs. Collins is great when a team is worn down, cause he's so quick. It makes him look really good. I'm not saying he's bad, but he's certainly no better than RR or Mario. There's a reason they start, and Collins comes off the bench. Against fresh bodies, his speed is not nearly as useful as the consistency of the older guards. At this point, RR and Mario's technical abuilities, far exceed collins' natural athleticism.

The point is, this article is all about Keegan. This is the same sort of thing that Bobby Knight used to rip the press about. Reporters like to talk about the glory of players, and the star quality, and blah blah blah. That's what reporters do. Especially guys like Keegan. I'm sure Bobby Knight told Keegan to **** off many times. The truth of the matter is that no man on this KU team is more important than another. Every single player, from the starters to the walk-ons are important for this team to succed. There's no lone Knight in shining armor. The effort is shared, and no one stands above another.

Of course, Keegan won't like that idea to much.

KGphoto 14 years, 8 months ago

Jacobpaul, I'm no fan of Keegs. But when Collins is healthy, he's the dominant player on the court. Being a bowling ball with short arms has nothing to do with his technical ability.

He's a guy that is willing to put the team on his back. He's the only player that will consistently, fearlessly, drive to the hoop. That kind of play changes games. And don't tell me he's not the fastest player end to end. He is. Against anybody.

But feel free to rip Keeg's boring article. I do.

Jacobpaul81 14 years, 8 months ago

I don't see Collins putting anybody on his back. Until he can play 40 minutes, put up 30 points, and dominate like Wayne or Danny, don't talk about him like he's the be all, end all of this team. If he was putting this team on his back, we wouldn't have 7 guys averaging between 9-11 points a game. Don't give me that BS.

Jacobpaul81 14 years, 8 months ago

You know who Collins reminds me alot of... .Jeff Bosche. the people and the press loved Jeff Bosche, but as a player, he was really limited. He could shoot the 3, and could do a decent job of protecting the ball... but on this team, he'd be a backup, a great backup, but a backup. bosche was someone who scores when you need a few points. That's what Collins is. I don't see him ever being a 30 plus minutes a game player. If he is, it's cause there's no one else there that's better. In the current case, there are two better guards. Collins isn't NBA bound. He may think he is, the press may think he is, and some of the fans (the same people who thought to highly of boschee) may think he is, but I see a european or developmental league future for him. He's honestly, not as good as people try to make him out to be.

janeyb 14 years, 8 months ago

Let's just hope noone stomps on Collins's feet.

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