Although the men’s basketball team struggled to find a highlight of last weekend’s losses to Brown and Yale, one bright spot did emerge, the consistency of freshman Lenny Collins. For the third consecutive week and the fifth time this season, Collins was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week.
In the team’s past two games, Collins averaged 10 points, 9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1 steal. Currently Collins leads all league freshmen in scoring.
Although many freshmen often take time to develop into threats on the court, Collins has wasted no time establishing himself as a presence, at both the small forward and off guard positions.
Of Collins, head coach Steve Donahue said, “Obviously he has done a terrific job. Coming in as a freshman and making the adjustment to college basketball is a very difficult one, especially in our league where there aren’t very many freshmen playing, let alone starting.”
Donahue believes that one of the reasons Collins has made such a strong impact so quickly is due in part to his strong high school program at Santa Margarita Catholic in California.
“I knew he was a good basketball player, he’s been well coached up until this point, so I knew he’d be as prepared as any freshman could,” said Donahue. “He’s got a very good feel of how to play basketball so even though he may be overmatched occasionally physically; he knows how to play and adjust to what happens.”
Not only did Collins receive a strong backbone in California, but he also came to Ithaca over the summer and was able to make the college transition prior to the start of the season.
Donahue explained, “He came up here in a minority program and was able to work out and lift and get a lot of friends and get comfortable with the campus; all that adjustment was taken care of in July and I think that was a huge step for him. He got stronger, better and more confident.”
Collins agrees that the summer played a large role in preparing him for the season, but also cites his teammates in his success.
“I don’t try to force too much out on the floor; I try to let the game come to me,” Collins said. “When you have guys like Cody [Toppert], Ka’Ron [Barnes], and ET [Eric Taylor] out there, you really just feed off of them, and they have really just given me some opportunities and I have just been able to knock some shots down.”
Although he has been playing with a strong core starting group, Collins has emerged as one of the more consistent players on the squad, and one of the best freshmen in the Ivy League. His continued strong play has led to his fifth Ivy Rookie of the Week honor.
Of the award Collins said, “I think it’s a good measurement of where I’ve come. I worked really hard during the summer and this shows my improvement throughout the season. I’m real proud of it. It’s a pretty neat honor.”
“I think it’s a tribute to the hard work he has put in,” complimented Donahue. “He’s taken advantage of the opportunity, his opportunity of playing a lot and showing what he can do and he’s taken that and jumped at it.
“He works extremely hard at it and as a result he’s played well when he’s been in there and deserves all this recognition.”
Even though he has already accomplished so much, the team is still just at the beginning of its Ivy schedule, and he still has three more years in Newman Arena.
For the remainder of the season Collins says he just hopes to continue to play well and contribute the best he can.
“Our team didn’t play well the last couple of games and we really just want to start playing better basketball,” he said. “My goal is just to help play better basketball anyway I can.”
Looking forward to Collins’ bright future Donahue said, “He’s not nearly the player he is going to be, he has the chance to be so much better, and he’s not even close to it. That’s the exciting part of it.”
Collins will once again have the opportunity to help the Red, as Cornell takes on Penn tomorrow night at 8 p.m. and Princeton Saturday night in Newman Arena.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss