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Archive for Thursday, February 28, 2008

Collins makes stride forward

Guard not his best, but he’s better than last game

February 28, 2008

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Winning on the road has been easier said than done lately for the Kansas men's basketball team. KU hit the road on Wednesday night to take on Iowa State. Enlarge video

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This weekend the rivalry between KU and K-State heats up again when the Wildcats come to town, but one Lawrence man hopes the rivalry won't boil over into his front yard again. Enlarge video

— The first open-court chance he got Wednesday night, Kansas University guard Sherron Collins may have had a flashback to his football-playing days at Chicago's Crane High.

Like a receiver at the NFL Combine trying to run the fastest 40-yard dash possible, he put his head down and chugged as swiftly as he could.

It still wasn't his fastest, Collins admitted, but it was better than it would have been had the situation presented itself in Saturday's loss at Oklahoma State.

"I just couldn't open it up and turn it into that second gear," said Collins, still recovering from a bone bruise in his right knee. "It's coming back. It won't be too long. I won't know how long it will be, but at the rate it's getting better at now it won't be too long."

The end result of the full-court sprint was a foul, and Collins calmly swished a pair of charities. The two points were the first of seven the sophomore scored in KU's 75-64 victory over Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum.

The minor improvement in health from Saturday, when Collins was scoreless and ineffective overall in 11 minutes at OSU, was apparent in his attire alone. Collins shed the knee brace he had sported on the right stem for the past couple of games.

"I didn't like it, either," Collins said of the thick, black brace. "But the first couple of times I wore it, it was for support and help. But now, that's turned around here a little bit, so I don't have to wear it."

Compared to what he had done four days earlier, Collins' showing at ISU was a big step in the right direction. In 18 minutes Wednesday, the 5-foot-11 backcourt bull also added two rebounds and an assist to his final stat line. Plus, he hit just his 10th three-pointer in 13 Big 12 games. That's compared to having hit 15 in nine non-conference showings.

Yes, it was a step, but KU coach Bill Self says there are bigger ones to be taken.

"He was better than Saturday," Self said. "He's still a shadow of himself, but that's by far the best he's moved since he's been with us (after hurting the knee), playing the last three weeks. He's not close to being himself. Hopefully that bruise will continue to get better. The doctors say it's just time away, so hopefully that's the case."

Even though full strength might not come for a while - if at all this season - Collins feels he has enough strength to provide an intangible that was glaringly absent in Stillwater. That's his role as super-sub - the automatic shot of life off the pine.

"I think I'm healthy enough to be the spark off the bench," Collins said. "Because of the injury, stuff doesn't go well, and I'm not at full speed, and I can't really do what I want to do. But I think I'm able to be that spark."

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