November 21, 2003

Count on Collins

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Coaches love the players that can do it all. Scoring, rebounding, defense, moving the ball up the floor, penetrating on the dribble — Lenny Collins covers all the bases.

The sophomore guard-forward will likely play a huge role for Cornell this season, as the Red embarks on its quest for a breakout year.

He has the ability to be one of the difference-makers for the Red. Last season, he opened up his collegiate career in high style, leading Ivy League freshmen in scoring (8.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.1 rpg), and winning the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award. And while some might shrink from the expectations and pressure such an award brings, Collins isn’t worried.

“I think there’s a little bit of pressure,” he said, “but I take it all in stride … It’s just a matter of me doing the work.”

In his freshman campaign, Collins played a big role for the Red as a forward, making the best out of a role to which he was not ideally suited, grabbing rebounds and scoring points inside. This year, with power forward Gabe Stephenson in the mix, Collins will have the opportunity to move out to the perimeter where he can take advantage of all his skills.

“My role is to knock down jumpers when we need them,” said Collins about his place in the team’s offense.

Otherwise the sophomore aims for consistent all-around play.

Collins brings a sharp mid-range game into the mix, dribbling and pulling up for jumpers, but he can also shoot for threes, or take the ball to the basket — something he will look to do more of this season.

“The thing I’m trying to work on is to get to the foul line more,” he said.

That will happen when he penetrates, driving toward the hoop and challenging the Red’s opponents inside.

On defense, Collins has the size (6-6, 205 pounds) and ability to pull down rebounds and guard bigger men, allowing the Red a considerable amount of versatility with his play.

His ability to contribute to the team quickly was important in bringing Collins to Cornell.

“I just saw a team I could make an impact on,” he said.

And in his second year, the team looks to make a big jump.

“I think we’re very optimistic about this team,” said Collins. “This year should be fun.”

Off the floor, Collins participates in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, attending the organization’s weekly meetings, and majors in Industrial and Labor Relations. Finding time for his extracurriculars is only a matter of time management.

“I understand when I have to get stuff done,” said Collins

At the same time, he realizes when he has a little time to relax with his friends. And in the end, that’s the best part of being on the basketball team, he said.

“The biggest advantage is just having 12 or 13 guys that you know are your friends,” he said. “It’s just a family away from home.”

But this family — the one at Cornell — can ball, and Collins is right in the thick of it, but focused on the team and helping out every way he can.

“I’m just really excited about this season,” concluded Collins. “We’ve made some good strides.”

Archived article by Matt James