- The Glorious Leader looks on in dismay at the program he has taken over. Photo by Bryan Horowitz.
“Collins” is a prominent name in basketball. Doug Collins played his collegiate career at Illinois State and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers on his way to becoming a 4-time NBA all-star and an Olympian. He then moved on to coaching four NBA teams including the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons, the Washington Wizards, and most recently the 76ers.
And if you don’t know his son, you should. Chris Collins was announced as the new Northwestern men’s head basketball coach on March 27th. Collins, a Chicagoland native (he’s from Northbrook), spent his college years playing ball for Duke as a guard. He would later return to his alma mater to coach as an assistant for one of the all-time best coaches, Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Collins was promoted to associate coach in 2008, his eighth season with the team. In addition, he has 13 years of coaching experience for Duke basketball as well as the US Olympic and FIBA national Champion squads in 2008, 2010, and 2012. He’s got the experience of a head coach, but he hasn’t even been one yet!
Collins hopes to work as best as possible with the current team and hopefully improve through time, practice, and recruiting. The squad returns 70% of its minutes from last year, including junior guard Dave Sobelewski and redshirt sophomore guard Tre Demps, Redshirt Senior guard/forward Drew Crawford, a fifth year veteran and without a doubt the leader of the team, didn’t see any time last year due to injury and looks to end his impressive career with the ‘Cats on a high note. Other familiar faces on the court will include sophomores Alex Olah and Kale Abrahamson.
After finishing 13-19 overall with a 4-14 conference record, the ‘Cats look to improve this season despite the obstacles it brings. The home opener, also the first game for the purple, is against the EIU Panthers on November 9th at 8:30 pm (all who can should attend). The ‘Cats have a tough non-conference schedule in addition to their usual threatening Big Ten matchups including games at Stanford and North Carolina State, and home against Missouri and UCLA. Big Ten play begins January 2nd when the ‘Cats square off against a tough Wisconsin team here in Evanston. During conference play, the ‘Cats will face Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, pre-season second-ranked Michigan State, Purdue, and Nebraska. The schedule is daunting, but there is no doubt purple can and will prevail.
The man that will take the team to success will follow in the footsteps of Bill Carmody. Collins’ predecessor was second in Northwestern basketball wins behind Dutch Lonborg, coach of the 1940s and 1950. It may seem like Collins has some big shoes to fill. However Carmody finished with 18 games under .500 as the second most-winning coach in our history – not too impressive for a Division One basketball coach, especially in the Big Ten. Due to Carmody’s firing, this year’s top freshman recruit Jared Sina decided to change his commitment to Seton Hall (poor choice, Jared). However the ‘Cats did sign one freshman – Nate Taphorn, a forward from Pekin, Illinois (nice choice, Nate). These multiple signings are a huge boost from this past year’s recruiting and are a great sign for the team’s future.
Outside of basketball, Collins has made a point of publicizing the team by pushing pucks before a Blackhawks game, leading the crowd in song at Wrigley Field and even dishing out guacamole at the famed Frontera Grill in the Loop. Despite all of this great news, there is one thing though on the mind of all ‘Cats fans when it comes to our men’s basketball team: a trip to NCAA tournament. A feat that has failed to be accomplish by any coach in the history of NU basketball. But Collins has the basketball knowledge, experience, and recruiting ability to get the team to that point. It’s just a question of when.
It’s clear that Collins is invested in the program. He cares a lot about this team and this area – he was born right around the corner! Collins has shown in his few months on the job that he wants to succeed and bring the Chicago community together around Northwestern, specifically its basketball team. What more can you ask from a coach?