|01-28-2009, 04:25 PM|
Kicking it old school
Join Date: Feb 2001
Casino cash: $130542
KU's Collins enjoying leader role
KU's point guard has led young KU team to unbeaten Big 12 record
He is the point guard at Kansas. He is the leading scorer at Kansas. He is the lone significant holdover from a national championship team at Kansas. He has a young, inconsistent team around him. He is the mentor to the next point guard at Kansas. He is more responsible for the wins and losses than any other player at Kansas. He is partially responsible for putting Brady Morningstar in position to succeed as a starting small forward at Kansas. He has to make sure Cole Aldrich gets the ball and make sure Tyrel Reed gets open shots.
He represents Kansas basketball all the time. When he gets a new haircut, he gets criticized. When he plays 40 minutes and scores 21 points and KU loses, he gets criticized. He plays 38 minutes with the flu, scores 19 and gets ripped. When somebody has to explain why Kansas lost, it has to be him.
"I think he's having the time of his life," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
This is not to paint Collins as a sympathetic figure. There is great bounty in being who and what he is. But this is to say that not everybody is equipped to be the quarterback or the CEO or the best man. Not everybody handles it well, even if they are otherwise good, talented and hard-working people.
"I think he likes doing that," said Morningstar, Collins' roommate. "I think that's why he came to KU, because he knew after a couple years he would be the main guy, the one leading this team to hopefully doing something pretty good."
It's a personality trait Morningstar says manifests itself throughout Collins' daily life, one that plays well against Morningstar's reserved nature. The pair occasionally attend KU women's games together, where Collins signs every autograph, poses for every picture.
Morningstar thinks Collins loves every second of it.
"When I see that happen, I just want to sit down and watch the girls game, sit up high," he said. "He'll try to sit down low. That's just how he is."
Collins is also the public voice of the Jayhawks. At almost every news conference and after almost every game, Collins is asked to speak to the press. It can be a laborious task. Sometimes the questions are stupid. They often are repetitive. Sometimes critical or prying.
The microphones get shoved in your face, the lights reflect off your forehead, the bodies invade your personal space. There is something primitive, even vaguely demeaning, about the whole thing.
"It's all right," Collins said. "Sometimes you don't feel like doing it, but (the media) is all right."
Others say it's a little more than all right for Collins. Self was sarcastic about the notion that Collins "has to" speak to the media all the time.
"Has to," Self said, tongue in cheek. "He has no choice."
Morningstar gets a kick out of it, too.
"I know he loves having the spotlight," Morningstar said. "That's just how he is. That's just one of his traits, his personality. When he's around other people he's pretty happy."
Collins puts a slightly different spin on it.
"Especially at a women's game or anywhere on campus, our fans here are great, and any time I can sign an autograph or answer a question or take a picture, I'll do it," Collins said. "I don't know if it's enjoying the spotlight, I don't mind doing things for the fans."
See that? See how he went political there? How he spoke to his constituency? In one simple response, he turned a question that was entirely about him into a compliment about everybody else. Yet — and this is its genius — the end result is it makes him look like a great guy. Was that calculated? Probably not. Was it innate? Perhaps.
Perhaps that quality (well, and the 18.7 points per game) is why Self is so impressed with his junior point guard's leadership in a 15-4 season with a 4-0 Big 12 start.
"He's been remarkable with the patience and toughness and the tough love that he's given our young guys," Self said. "He's kind of brought them along in an accelerated way the last few weeks."
There was a time this season when Self says he wasn't having much fun coaching. It was a battle just to get effort, much less execution. And that's when Collins took an even greater load on his shoulders.
"He said, 'Hey, it's my job to make sure our guys provide the effort, it's Coach's job to correct us,'" Self said. "I started thinking back, I really haven't had to get on the guys much at all for playing hard here lately. I do think that it's a natural progression of young guys understanding what's demanded and what they need to do, but I also think it's Sherron on his own, saying, 'Hey, this is how we do things here, and anything less will not be accepted. I'm not going to accept it.' He's definitely cemented himself as the voice of our team."
Tully Corcoran can be reached at (785) 295-5652 or email@example.com.
|01-28-2009, 04:27 PM||#2|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Casino cash: $12782
The kid is having a good year. He has the ability to be all American...just needs to take care of the ball a little better.