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Head basketball coach Bobby Collins has one more shot

Opinion

By Steven Gaither
On May 1, 2009

Bobby Collins took the reigns of a Winston-Salem State program transitioning from Division II to Division I in October 2006. Less than three years later and he finds himself skating on thin ice.

In three seasons, Collins' teams have compiled a record of 25 wins and 64 losses. Twelve of those wins came in the 2007-08 season, when his normal starting five consisted exclusively of players recruited by his predecessor, Phillip Stitt. Several players have had their scholarships rescinded, most recently guards Isaiah Tucker and JaMarcus McClinton, under Collins' watch. Several others have been forced off the team because of academic problems.

Growing pains are to be expected when a team makes the leap to the highest tier of college basketball, but for most of last season, the Rams were just painful to watch.

I can't remember how many times the team would be just four or five points back with and two minutes later they'd find themselves down 10 or 11.

WSSU lost to rival NC Central, one of the worst Division I teams, 63-55 in the MEAC Tournament Bonus Game.

"If you look back at all the games we have lost this season, especially the ones here in this building, you will see this follows the same pattern," Collins said after the game. "We come out and play with intensity and then, for whatever reason, we hit the wall and it costs us the game."

In short, if Collins and his team don't show dramatic improvement next season, it's time to move in a different direction.

If the athletic department was in better shape, he'd probably already be gone.

But with no permanent athletic director and the current financial state of department, it's too costly let him go right now. Not only would they have find the funds to pay the new coach, they'd also have to compensate Collins, who has one year left on his contract.

Unless his players show tremendous growth between now and November, it's tough to see the Rams being that much better next year.

The Rams will be without Jamal Durham, the school's all-time leader in games played and 13th leading scorer of all-time, the last holdover from the Stitt-era.

That leaves rising senior Brian Fisher, last season's leading scorer at 13.9 per game, as Collins' only proven scorer. Center Paul Davis has shown flashes, but he'll have to be more consistent on the offensive end as a junior to provide a scoring punch.

One positive heading into next season is that Collins and his staff did manage to sign Southern Durham star Marcus Wells. The 6-2 guard averaged 18 points, six rebounds and five assists per game and was ranked the 19th best point guard in the class of 2009 by ESPN.com.

Even that could go wrong; however, as the Winston-Salem Journal reports that Wells has not yet qualified academically to play next season.

If Collins plans on being in the Triad for awhile, he and his team will have to show dramatic improvement next season. With a new athletic director coming, time is not on his side.


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