Sherron Collins‘ line after logging 16 minutes in the first half of Kansas’ eventual win at Texas A&M on Monday night: three points, 0-3 shooting from the floor, 3-4 from the free throw line, three turnovers, no assists.
Not exactly his best half, of course. Is it worth a benching?
Bob Knight thought so on Monday. Providing color commentary for ESPN’s broadcast, Knight proclaimed that he would have benched Collins to start the second half, presumably to send a message. What would that message be, exactly? We’re guessing something along the lines of, “Hey, Sherron. Play better. And if you don’t, someone else (like Brady Morningstar) will, so you’re expendable.”
Keep in mind…this is Sherron Collins. Leading returning scorer for KU over the last two seasons. Pre-season All-American. This is the guy who came off the bench for 11 points, six assists, and three steals in the 2008 title game as s sophomore. That Mario Chalmers three-pointer to tie it with 2.1 seconds left in that championship game? Collins had the assist. Just three weeks ago, this was the kid who cringed through back spasms that had his muscles knotting up as if they were in vise grips during the Kansas State game…and still, in overtime, in one of the most raucous road environments of recent memory, when it came time to drive to the basket and take contact with less than ten seconds left, said to his coach and his team (as he has in many similar situations), “I want the ball.”
So…expendable? We know Knight was just talking about not starting Collins; he wasn’t proposing sitting him for the game. That would have been ludicrous. But aren’t you taking a chance with that tactic? If you’re going to use it, you’d better be sure that your star player will hear the message you’re trying to send, as opposed to another one that would do more damage.
Knight has taken a few hits in the media about his pro-benching comment. And now, Bill Self has responded.
On the weekly Kansas coaches’ Hawk Talk radio show, Self was asked about Knight’s statement. His response: “Well, I think Coach Knight is very very wise, obviously with winning games and having a great mind…to be honest, we’re not just trying to win the game. We’re trying to win over time. I don’t believe in showing guys that you don’t have faith in them when things are not going well, when they’ve delivered over and over for you. I’d never do that.”
On a few levels, that’s great stuff from Bill Self. From my view, that really seems to represent how he feels and isn’t just lip service. And if you’re a recruit, isn’t that what you love to hear? I’d feel much better knowing that the coach I could end up playing for isn’t going to sit me down or possibly give up on me when I make a mistake, or even when I’ve had a bad half. It would be good to know that, if I’ve come through for my team on several occasions, a single bad half isn’t going to trump all of that in my coach’s eyes. The current Jayhawks have now also witnessed another example of how he’ll stick up for them, even in this case where it’s the winningest D1 college coach of all-time offering his opinions about them. While simultaneously complimenting Knight — though Self probably didn’t mean to put this spin on it — Self’s response makes Knight look like a stodgy, outdated disciplinarian who advocates a mind-game approach to dealing with players. I don’t mean to put words in Coach Self’s mouth, there. But can you think of any big-time college basketball player these days who would respond well to such a tactic without losing a little faith in his coach? Knight’s move may have worked on his players back in his earlier days at Indiana, but this is a different time.
What will be interesting, now, is whether or not someone from ESPN asks Knight on the air about Self’s response. I doubt that will happen, so the matter is probably concluded. You have to admit, though — it’d be great to hear, and you know The General would love to offer his opinion. Maybe somebody on the ESPN GameDay crew will step up for us this weekend if Knight makes the trip to Seattle.