Senior night, Kansas and Sherron Collins. For a player whose legacy at Kansas won't be measured based on statistical contributions but rather the wins, Sherron got exactly what he needed on senior night to go out with a just that, a win. Bill Self has called him the best leader he's ever coached, an extension of the coaching staff and this has been his program for the last two years. He's a teammate, a team leader, and as talented and passionate a player as you'll see. Fitting then isn't it, that in his final home game it's Sherron's teammates who do the heavy lifting.
As Kansas took the floor out of the tunnel it's been pointed out that Collins missed the opening layup. Watch that senior day walk for Sherron, the hug from Coach Self, the atmosphere of the night and it's not difficult to see where a player might lack a little focus or just have some jitters.
Going into the game Sherron Collins and Kansas fans probably envisioned a farewell that included a few of those memorable Sherron slashes through the lane, a few deep threes and perhaps a night where he would carry his team to victory over a top 5 opponent in the Fieldhouse. It just didn't happen that way for the most part.
Sherron came out, struggled from the outset. His initial drive to the hoop on the opening possession had the potential to blow the roof off the building had it gone in, but it didn't. Neither did most of his shots the rest of the way. Starting the game 1-10 from the field with the majority of his early points coming from the free throw line, it was a struggle. It wasn't hard to see a player who wanted so badly to make the game memorable, but perhaps the way it went was a better reflection of what he's meant to the program.
Last year Sherron Collins took charge of a team that had just lost six players to professional basketball and graduation following a national title. Cole Aldrich returned, but no on really knew what he had to offer. Sherron was the man, the player tasked with leading the transition.
The expectation headed into that season was one of struggle. A conference championship, a decent run in the tournament and in some instances a tournament all together weren't really expected. Sherron made the transition seamless. Sure the target is Final Fours and not Sweet 16's but '08-'09 was a fun year for Kansas fans in the sense that a team grew up and Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich rose to the occasion.
This year the expectations ticked up a notch, and to date, they've been fulfilled. What made last night so fitting to watch was where it came from. Over the past two seasons Kansas has gone from the Sherron show, to the Sherron and Cole show and now transitioned back to Kansas basketball. A team game with defense leading the way and a number of players that can step up on any given night offensively. Last night Xavier Henry led the charge giving Kansas the halftime lead. Tyshawn Taylor was steady, as was Markieff Morris when foul trouble bit Kansas in the first half.
It was because of Sherron that Kansas didn't see the dramatic dip in success following a National Title in '08. Now, on Sherron's night it was because of his teammates that the Jayhawks would never trail to the #5 team in the country and a team that was being talked about as a potential #1.
For his part Sherron did end up making a pretty big contribution scoring 17 points on a bit of a lackluster shooting night. Still, it was his teammates who did much of the heavy lifting when he needed it most. For a player who has provided leadership and support to a young team and helped successfully nourish a transition that had the potential to be trying, it was good to see things come full circle in a sense to where Sherron Collins doesn't have to carry the program anymore.
Last night was fun, the torch has been passed and congrats to Sherron on a great career in the Fieldhouse. A few more games remain and the opportunity for Sherron and his teammates to truly cement his legacy is there for the taking. Rock Chalk.