Collison opens eyes in front of national audience

Tuesday, February 9, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

As Hornets radio host Joe Block eloquently put it after last night’s game in Orlando, it's almost impossible to overstate what Darren Collison has accomplished over the past six games as a starter. Tasked with stepping in for the NBA’s premier point guard, Collison has ensured that there would be little or no drop-off in production from the position. Remember, this is a rookie.

As a starter since Jan. 30, the 6-footer from UCLA has averaged 18.3 points and 9.7 assists. Monday’s 27-point, nine-assist outing against the defending Eastern Conference champions was yet another example of how capably the 22-year-old has handled his expanded role.

Through the magic of DVR, here are a few interesting insights from TNT’s national broadcast of the Hornets-Magic game, in case you missed it. TNT chose to interview Collison one-on-one prior to the game, knowing in advance that he would be a large part of discussion, but his career-best scoring game made the No. 21 overall pick even more prominent in the telecast:

• TNT analyst Reggie Miller, also a UCLA alum, said he occasionally has played pickup basketball on campus with Collison in past summers. At one point, Miller said, “What I’m surprised about is who left (Collison) off the Rookie-Sophomore Game come All-Star Weekend?”

Miller later said that Collison is starting to resemble Chris Paul in the side pick-and-roll plays that the Hornets run.

• Mike Fratello noted that the Hornets have accomplished one of their 2009-10 objectives of playing at a faster pace. New Orleans has increased its scoring average by six points per game compared to 2008-09. Collison often had Orlando on its heels by pushing the ball even after Magic scores.

• Collison mentioned in his chat with TNT that Paul is constantly in his ear providing instructions and tips. “All he does is give me advice,” Collison said, smiling. Although Paul has not been with the team recently while recovering from knee surgery, he has been calling and texting Collison after some games.

• Unrelated to Collison but specific to New Orleans, TNT opened its telecast with shots of the French Quarter and Saints fans celebrating the Super Bowl victory. During the courtside introduction of Hornets-Magic, Fratello was sporting a Saints fleur de lis bead necklace. “The Czar of the Telestrator” said he predicted a Saints win and that Drew Brees would win MVP.