LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Sherron Collins was having such a bad game at Texas A&M this week that ESPN analyst and hall of fame coach Bob Knight suggested benching the Kansas guard for the start of the second half.
Collins has been slumping and he did have a miserable first half on Monday night as No. 1 Kansas struggled to a 59-54 victory over the No. 23 Aggies. Just a half-hour before tip-off, he received a picture of little Sharee' Collins, who had just been born back home in Chicago.
Was that why the proud papa was 0-for-3 with three turnovers and no assists during 16 miserable first-half minutes?
"We can make that excuse," Collins said Thursday with a wide grin. "But, no, I just didn't have a good game. It didn't have anything to do with that."
Coach Bill Self gave Collins permission to fly home to see his new daughter on Tuesday.
"She's as pretty as can be," he said. "I couldn't put her down."
On Thursday, he was back at practice, hoping to break out of the persistent slump and become the winningest player in Kansas' storied basketball history.
"I'm shooting it well in practice," he said. "They're just not falling for me in the games."
But bench Collins? The preseason All-American and unchallenged leader of the team that's lost only one game all year? It may have seemed a good idea to Knight but nothing of the sort crossed Self's mind.
"Not at all. You play your best players," Self said. "I'm sure (Knight) had his reasons for saying that. But I'm not going to put the winningest player in the history of Kansas basketball on the bench because he shot the ball poorly the first half."
Still, there's no getting around the fact the player everyone deems most important to the Jayhawks' long-term success has been scuffling. In the past eight games, Collins has hit just 32 of 99 shots. That's a 32.3 percent clip, below his average in every game but one during the first two-thirds of the season.
So far, the Jayhawks have managed to survive, sometimes only barely. They won at Colorado in overtime when he was just 6 for 17. He was only 4 for 15 against Iowa State, which hung around until late in the game.
Against the Aggies, Collins wound up just 2 for 9 with five turnovers and one assist in what Self admitted was his worst game of the year.
"I think he's not being very aggressive. He's not driving the ball," Self said. "He's got to get his shoulders past people. He's got to get in the paint and make plays. He can certainly do that, and he's probably settling a little bit too much right now. But we've gone through phases with him before with that."
Collins and the Jayhawks will be heavily favored over Colorado in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, which could be a personal milestone. With a 122-7 record in his four seasons, Collins is just one win from tying the Kansas record of 123 wins that Raef LaFrentz, C.B. McGrath and Billy Thomas gathered from 1995-98.
"I'm real proud of that," Collins said. "It's a great accomplishment. There's been a lot of great players here and to be on that list means a lot. It just a reflection of the teams that have been here with me. And it's a reflection on coach, getting three different groups to buy into the system."
But it's not something he's likely to dwell on. A sixth straight Big 12 championship is within reach, and after that comes a run at what could be Kansas' second national championship in three seasons.
"We've got some things we want to get done," he said. "As for me, it's being more aggressive to make things happen, not just to score. I think I got a little too comfortable with all the help we've got. Everybody else makes plays sometimes gets me out of my aggressiveness. It's no problem. I can be aggressive."
That's why there's no time to celebrate — not for becoming the all-time winning player at Kansas, not even for becoming a father.
"We've got some goals to chase," he said. "It will be nice to have something to celebrate after the season."
There might even be something for little Sharee' to brag about some day.