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Mr. Laz
03-15-2008, 09:30 AM
Posted on Fri, Mar. 14, 2008 10:15 PM


Collins, Kaun key for Kansas


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<!-- END /pubsys/production/story/story_assets.comp --> They’re dangerous now. You couldn’t really see it Friday night inside the Sprint Center, but trust me, the Kansas Jayhawks are ready for March.

Their 64-54 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second round of the Big 12 tournament was largely unimpressive. Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush sleep-walked through the game, and the Huskers built a nine-point, first-half lead and led 27-22 at the break.

No worries. The Jayhawks wiped out the deficit with a monster run to close the first half and open the second. More important, the Hawks got tremendous production from reserves Sherron Collins and Sasha Kaun, showing the kind of depth that makes them a Final Four heavy favorite.

“You could make a case that (Friday) those were our two best performers,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Collins and Kaun.

We don’t have to make a case. We saw it. Kaun and Collins made up for the absence of Arthur and Rush. Collins and Kaun gave the Jayhawks a toughness they’ve lacked in previous March tournament runs.

Kaun scored nine points on four-of-five shooting, and he once again outplayed Nebraska’s Aleks Maric, who scored 10 points and turned the ball over six times.

Collins was the biggest difference-maker. He played just 6 minutes in the first half but you could see in those 6 minutes that he wanted to take control of this team. He barked at his teammates and fearlessly drove the ball into the lane and finished shots after contact. The Jayhawks had a leader. Unfortunately, he picked up two fouls.

“We lost a bit of energy when I pulled him,” Self acknowledged.

Yeah, with Collins on the bench the Huskers took control.

“Sasha is a stabilizer, and Sherron is the guy that is the boost — the energy boost,” Self explained.

Despite racking up an impressive 29-3 record, the Jayhawks have missed Collins’ energy most of the year. He’s been plagued with nagging injuries, mostly in his knee. It seemed as if he’d never be completely healthy and in position to make a consistent impact on this squad.

“Sometimes when I’m out there, somebody needs to talk and speak up,” said Collins, who scored a game-high 13 points, “and I try to be the one to do it if nobody else is doing it.”

He flew a tad overboard at the end of the game. Fouled hard by Ade Dagunduro on a breakaway layup, Collins mouthed off to Dagunduro and drew a technical foul. Self wasn’t happy with the T, but he had to love Collins’ fire. The Chicago point guard won’t let the Jayhawks get punked.

Collins has demonstrated maturity this season, keeping his weight low even though all the lingering injuries gave him an easy excuse to bloat. He came to Kansas with one-and-done expectations and had every right to believe he’d be in the draft-lottery speculation after two years. Barring an out-of-this-world tournament run, Collins will be back for a third season at Kansas. He doesn’t look frustrated or desperate on the court.

“He lives for ball,” Self said, “and it’s been a very, very frustrating, humbling year for him because he’s done what he’s supposed to do to get himself back. But he just hasn’t caught many breaks.”

Well, maybe he has now. I’d given up on the idea of Collins getting healthy this season. I never thought he’d be at full strength, so I never thought the Jayhawks would be at full strength, capable of making a Final Four.
I’m glad to acknowledge I was wrong. Collins almost magically recovered his health on the first day of March, when Kansas was host to Kansas State. Collins scored 18 points that day, and he’s scored 13 points in each of the games since. He’s sank 20 of 33 shots during the four-game stretch.

“Even the training staff said he may not get back all the way this year,” Self said. “But I think he is. I don’t think there’s anything holding him back healthwise right now.”
And that means there’s nothing holding the Jayhawks back.

To reach Jason Whitlock, call 816-234-4869 or send e-mail to jwhitlock@kcstar.com. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

http://www.kansascity.com/166/story/532354.html

Lzen
03-15-2008, 11:18 AM
Uh oh. Better not tell CoMo. ROFL

I really believe that Collins is the key to a KU tourney run. That guy is definitely a leader. He is the guy that they have been needing to take charge.

CoMoChief
03-15-2008, 11:24 AM
Kaun played better than Arthur last night. Arthur had what I thought to be his worst game as a Jayhawk last night, hopefully he snaps out of it.

But Kaun isn't good, and sure as hell isn't the key. The key is Sherron Collins. He needs to play more.

Sure-Oz
03-15-2008, 11:26 AM
Jayhawks will dominate who they play next easy as pie

Mr. Laz
03-15-2008, 11:35 AM
Jayhawks will dominate who they play next easy as pie
http://www.designnotes.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/HAA40R.JPG

whoop,whoop,whoop ....... reverse mojo alert, reverse mojo alert!!!!!!