April 8, 2008

Speedy Collins keys Kansas win with a big play

MORE: NCAA Tourney Central

SAN ANTONIO Memphis coach John Calipari said he wanted to foul at the end of regulation before Kansas guard Mario Chalmers hit a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to play to send it into overtime.

"Sherron Collins got away," Calipari said. "We were going to foul at halfcourt. He got away from our man (Derrick Rose). And then when our man did foul him and pushed him to the floor, he probably didn't foul him hard enough because of the space.

"But we were fouling. He (Collins) separated. I imagine their coach said, 'They're going to try to foul you, so run from them.' And we were fouling."

Instead of the foul with Memphis up 63-60 which would have forced Collins to make the first free throw, miss the second, the Jayhawks to get the rebound and score again just to tie Collins got free and found Chalmers.

"I think I got fouled, actually, but I ain't complaining," Collins said.

The rest will be the stuff of Kansas basketball lore.

"I think the play was just to go flat and have a penetration pitch," said Chalmers, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "I saw that Sherron kind of fumbled the ball. I relocated behind him. I was able to get a good look at it."

Rose tried to get a hand in Chalmers' face, but Chalmers rose up from beyond the top of the key and hit nothing but net.

"I thought it was going in when it left my hands," Chalmers said. "It felt pretty good when I released it."

It was a dagger for the Tigers.

"I just dropped to my knees," Memphis center Joey Dorsey said. "I was like, 'Man, I can't believe he hit that shot because I just knew we were ready to cut down the nets.' "


Collins a sophomore who, like Rose, is from Chicago also had a hand in the other big play of the game for Kansas, a steal of a Memphis inbounds pass in the corner and a subsequent 3-pointer that cut the Tigers' lead to 60-56 with 1:46 to play.

"We went small," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "So Russell (Robinson) was in the game also, if I'm not mistaken. And the deal was, hey, if Chris (Douglas-Roberts) or Derrick (Rose) catches it, we're going to trap him, we're not going to foul him.

"Sherron made an unbelievable play to cut in front of him in the deep corner and made a great save to Russell, then Russell fanned it back out to him."

Collins came off the bench to play 34 minutes and contribute 11 points, six assists (a team high), four rebounds and three steals.

"Sherron is a clutch player," Self said. "He hadn't been healthy all year long at all. This weekend was as healthy as he could be. It wasn't a knock on Russell that he didn't play as much tonight. I just thought Sherron was on a little bit of a roll offensively."


Dorsey fouled out with 1:23 left. He had only two rebounds, tying his season-low. It was a disappointing performance for the senior, who had 15 rebounds in a semifinal victory against UCLA.

The Tigers led 62-56 when Dorsey left the floor. He had six points on 3-for-3 shooting and two blocks, and there's no question Memphis could have used him in the overtime.

"I know I let my teammates down because I should have been out there on that floor," Dorsey said. "It was very tough. Sometimes in the overtime I was on my knees trying to tell some of the guys, 'Keep playing, we're going to get through this.' "

It was the sixth time this season Dorsey fouled out.

"We were running uphill from that point on without having Joey Dorsey on the court," Calipari said.


Calipari had some regret about playing Rose for all 45 minutes and fellow guards Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson 42 minutes apiece. All three averaged just less than 29 minutes per game during the regular season.

"What I needed to do - you notice I was trying with that lead to just finish the game off," Calipari said. "So I didn't do a whole lot of subbing those last eight minutes. And that really beat down Chris and even Derrick. And I rolled the dice. I basically said, 'We better get out of here in regulation.' So I didn't play Willie (Kemp) and I didn't really play Doneal (Mack) that much. Those two (Douglas-Roberts and Rose) never really came off the floor. Neither did Antonio.

"I didn't play like that all year. Those kids played 27, 28 minutes. But when you're playing for the national title, I left them in there. I figure let's get out of here, they can be tired tomorrow."


Monday night's championship game was the seventh to go into overtime. The last was Arizona's 84-79 victory over Kentucky in 1997. Kansas captured its first NCAA title since 1988 (Danny Manning and the Miracles) and its third overall. It also won the crown in 1952. The Jayhawks finished 37-3, a school record for wins in a season. The old mark was 35 (1986 and 1998). Kansas will carry a 13-game winning streak into next season. Memphis' Rose finished with eight assists, the most in a championship game since Bobby Hurley had nine in Duke's 1991 victory over Kansas. Self is the first coach to win a championship in his first title-game appearance since Maryland's Gary Williams in 2002.

Highlights | Top plays of the tourney | MORE: NCAA Tourney Central

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.


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