2010 KU-Texas A&M
College Station, Texas The second half was about to start when Bob Knight, a member of the media now working games as a color commentator for ESPN, said he wouldn’t start Sherron Collins to open the half because he had been a negative for Kansas, especially offensively, in the first half.
KU coach Bill Self started Collins, of course, but just knowing the winningest college men’s basketball coach said that of a player who stands a chance to become the winningest college basketball player of all-time reveals just how rough a night Collins had in every way except one.
His Jayhawks won, 59-54, against a Texas A&M team that hit the boards hard and shot harder. The victory kept Kansas (25-1 overall, 11-0 Big 12) alive for a shot at what would be a shocker of an undefeated Big 12 season.
It also showed that unlike some teams, it can’t be said of Kansas that as any one player goes, so goes the team. The nation’s No. 1 team has too much depth and versatility to say that.
As with any team, Kansas looks its best when the guy who takes the most shots catches fire. Yet, in the past eight games, Collins has made just 10 of 42 three-point shots, or 24 percent.
“Hasn’t shot it a lick,” Self said of his senior leader.
That could mean one of two things, one good, the other not. It could mean Collins either is getting his shooting slump out of his system without it keeping the team from winning, and he’ll recover his sweet stroke in time for March, or it could mean something is causing the slump. Could it be something physical? Is Collins hurt?
“No,” said Collins, who slammed his shoulder taking a hard fall. “I’m all right.”
His coach didn’t offer any theories as to why Collins has been misfiring from long range of late.
“I just think he’s missing shots,” Self said. “I’m not a big believer in thinking there’s something going on. A lot of times basketball is a game of so much human element. Why does a golfer hit it straight one day and blow it out to the right the next? Sometimes, it just happens, but I still think he’s as good as any guard around.”
Why does Brady Morningstar make 12 of his first 14 free throws and miss his next four?
Even with his shot on temporary leave, Collins has a contagious confidence to him. He makes sure his team stays aggressive, especially at the end of close games.
He knew it wasn’t his night, so he didn’t shoot as much. He finished with seven points, just one assist and five turnovers, including a ball he dribbled away in the final minutes. All four of his three-point shots missed on a night Kansas made just one of 10 three-pointers.
In the past two games, KU has made eight of 37 threes, just 22 percent. Sometimes this teams wins pretty games, other times ugly ones. For now, the important thing is to keep winning because Kentucky, the nation’s No. 2 team, is doing so.
Kentucky poses the biggest threat to Kansas landing the No. 1 seed in the St. Louis regional. If KU can stay ahead of Kentucky in the eyes of the seeding committee, it will get to stay close to home, rather than be sent, say, to Houston.
Collins doesn’t need to shoot well for the team to win, but its chances of winning it all certainly will improve when his long-distance shooting does.