Lenny Collins’ time is now. After winning the Ivy League rookie of the year award his freshman season and averaging over 10 points and five rebounds per game last year, Collins is ready to become a star for the Red.
“He’s shown he’s a pretty good player in this league,” head coach Steve Donahue said. “I want him to be one of the best players in the league every single night. I have an unbelievable amount of confidence in him [to do just that].”
Collins showed flashes last year in a loss to Harvard, when he poured in 31 points on 9-of-12 shooting, to go along with his three rebounds and six steals. In that game, he also went 12-of-15 from the free-throw line, a point that describes how easy it is to coach a player such as Collins.
“We talked about a lot of things before last year,” Donahue said. “He needed to get to the foul line more. He did that, and he almost doubled his foul shots.”
This year Donahue wants Collins, who was mainly a swingman and a spot-up shooter in the past, to handle the ball more often.
“I’d like him to take care of the ball more, make more assists,” Donahue said. “He has the ability to lead us in assists. His size enables him to see a lot.”
Collins took a big step last year in controlling the ball better by drastically decreasing his turnovers. His freshman year, the San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native had just 49 turnovers as opposed to his sophomore year, when he had 62.
Collins’ statistics from his freshman year are actually eerily similar to those from his sophomore campaign. In the 2002-03 season, Collins averaged 5.1 rebounds per game, had 46 assists, five blocks, shot 41 percent from the field, and 80 percent from the foul line. Last season, he averaged 5.2 boards per game, to go along with his 46 assists, five blocks, 41 percent field goal shooting, and 80 percent mark from the stripe.
The glaring differences in his statistics were his scoring, where he upped his average by over two points per game, to 10.3, and his steals, where he led the team with 52.
Donahue believes that this year those stats will only get better.
“I think he can lead the league in steals, he’s got great instincts away from the ball, and he understands it with his size,” Donahue said. “I think he can be one of the top five scorers in the league, because he can get his shot, and go get it when he needs to.”
Even though the coaching staff expects Collins to have a breakout year, it knows he will not be the only option offensively. In fact, Donahue hopes the opposite will happen — that Collins will make those around him better. The step towards doing that will be for Collins, who was inconsistent in his scoring last season, to pace his shots properly.
“[His inconsistency] wasn’t necessarily by his design. As it evolved, he took a back seat sometimes to a Ka’Ron Barnes or a Cody Toppert,” Donahue said. “The whole team concept will evolve [this season], and that will allow Lenny to pick his spots better.”
Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Assistant Sports Editor