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February 27, 2008
With a few thundering dunks, sophomore forward Dwayne Collins could have given Miami fans reason to cheer for both.
Collins scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds last Wednesday to give Miami its first win over Duke since 1962. He followed that with 12 points and six rebounds in a win over Maryland on Saturday that also boosted the Hurricanes' NCAA resume. For those efforts he is Rivals.com's National Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 24.
Hurricanes coach Frank Haith called the week the best in his four-year tenure in Coral Gables. The four-game win streak evened Miami's ACC record at 6-6 and has the Hurricanes poised for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002.
"We need more wins," Collins said. "But we're in position to make the tournament."
Against Duke, Collins was a presence in the paint, making 12 of 14 shots in the 96-95 win. "I was just throwing up stuff backwards and making it," Collins said. "You can't really do anything about that."
He followed that by going 6-for-11 in the 78-63 win over Maryland.
This was the kind of week Haith has sought from Collins all season. In comments to the media and in the locker room, Haith has put pressure on Collins to play to his potential.
"He played like I think Dwayne is capable of playing," Haith told The Miami Herald. "Now, we want him to go after it and have another performance like that. But he was outstanding. He was aggressive, he was attacking the rim. That's the post presence we've been wanting. That's the Dwayne we've been wanting."
Collins had his own motivation against Duke. The sophomore was a non-factor in the teams' first meeting, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, on Feb. 2. Collins was in foul trouble, played only nine minutes and scored two points.
"I felt like I had to do something (in the second game)," Collins said.
David is a college basketball writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.