McCollom picks up his play, rewards Buckley's confidence

A funny thing happened in the midst of a point-guard controversy. Matt McCollom became a scorer.

A little over a week ago, when men's basketball head coach Tim Buckley was considering a change in the starting lineup, many people picked McCollom as the first to go. McCollom, a freshman, had started every game this season, but had not put up the numbers of a starter.

Buckley, however, opted to stick with his point guard, and the choice paid off. In his last three games, McCollom has averaged nearly nine points more than his season average, including a career-high 21 points in the Jan. 29 loss to Marshall, and 10 points in Saturday's win against Eastern Michigan.

"When you hear stuff about changing the lineup, it fuels you to play a lot harder," McCollom said of his resurgence.

McCollom is quick, however, to dismiss the idea that he is focusing more on offense.

"It is not about getting more shots," he said. "It's about playing defense and playing harder. If my defense is there, my offense is going to come."

Buckley has also noticed McCollom's new-found touch and credits it to hard work, saying he comes in to watch extra film, talk to the coaches and take extra shots in practice.

"He's a guy who wants to get better," Buckley said. "It's just a glimpse of what's ahead for the next three years."

McCollom's offense is not the only thing that has been solid during the past three games -- his defense has also been consistent. Saturday, McCollom and teammate Billy Lynch held Eastern's Ricky Cottrill, who averages 20.8 points per game, to 15 points on 4 of 16 shooting.

McCollom is quick to give Lynch the credit.

"He has taught me how to run the team, how to talk to the guys," he said. "I've learned a lot of stuff from him that I probably wouldn't have learned by myself."

Buckley, however, may think McCollom has learned too much from Lynch.

"One of those passes looked like a Billy pass, so I think he has been watching Billy too much," Buckley joked, "but he did complete it."

"My role hasn't changed," McCollom said, "I just have a little more confidence."


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