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Archive for Friday, July 27, 2001

Collison steps up for USA

KU junior hits key three, free throws in victory

July 27, 2001

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— With 4:20 remaining, Kansas University's Nick Collison hit a three-pointer to give USA Basketball a 74-74 deadlock against Yugoslavia at the Global Games on Thursday night at SMU's Moody Coliseum.

Fifteen seconds later, Yugoslavia's Goran Cakic fouled Collison and the KU junior-to-be sank two free throws for a 76-74 lead.

"That was a key play," Collison said afterward. "If I hadn't gotten fed the ball, we might have lost the game."

USA Basketball went on to an 87-77 victory.

The USA team did not lead until late in the fourth quarter. Yugoslavia went on an early 11-0 run in the opening minutes and held leads of at least 10 points most of the way.

Collison picked up three quick fouls early in the first quarter. He didn't re-enter until late in the third period and finished with 10 points and five rebounds.

"He hesitated on most of his shots," USA Basketball assistant coach Ernie Kent said. "He just needs to get more aggressive at shooting. We are going to need him on this trip."

USA Basketball will head to Oakland, Calif., this morning for a few days of practice before flying to Japan for the World Championship for Young Men, Aug. 3-12.

Ultimately, Collison hopes the extra playing time will lead to a career in the NBA.

Twenty-seven NBA scouts were on hand Thursday night.

While Collison hesitated on his shot selection, former Kansas assistant coach Ed Manning thought Collison would do just fine.

"By the time he comes out, he's going to be one of the top-notch players," said Manning who scouts for the Memphis Grizzlies. "He has what it takes to be a national player."

This summer Collison has been working on his perimeter shooting. Last summer, Collison concentrated on strength training intensely and bulked up his 6-foot-9 frame to 260 pounds.

"When I got back to school, I just didn't feel right," he said. "This year I'm still trying to stay strong, but I'm concentrating more on playing."

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