Northwestern Hires Chris Collins

Submitted by bacon1431 on March 27th, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Some B1G basketball news outside of the tournament, but Northwestern is set to hire Duke assistant Chris Collins as their new head coach. I don't think anyone is surprised by this as he was considered one of the top candidates immediately after the job became open.

Here is a link

Sippin OnPurple's initial reaction here

Lake the Post's here too

Former Duke assistants as head coaches include: Mike Brey at ND, Tommy Amaker, Jeff Capel, Quin Snyder and others. Mixed results for most of them. Time will tell how good the hire is for N'W, but it makes sense for them IMO. Not an exciting hire, but the logical one. No surprises.



March 27th, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

Hire an unproven assitant coach, one that works in an established program--so how do you tell he is any good?? Fire a guy who has proven he can win, when team is not decimated by injuries. Don't get it!!


March 27th, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

The influx of BTN money has led Northwestern to take athletics more seriously, and I think this is a sign. I don't think Carmody was really going to have the ability to get Northwestern to the next tier to truly be competitive in the Big 10. His offense was difficult to prepare for, but he'd never recruited to a Big 10 level. He didn't do the media outreach that NU's demanding of their coaches. With Carmody, I think their ceiling remained a bubble out team. 

Obviously, that's about as good as Northwestern's basketball history gets, so this is a risk. But if that's your ceiling with your current coach, why not take a stab at a change to get over the hump. Collins has local ties (grew up in suburban Chicago), has been Duke's lead recruiter for a decade, and apparantly this generation of Duke assistants has more authority than previous ones. 


March 27th, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^

^^^ THIS ^^^

It's maybe a bit too overdramatic, but a program's facilities account for a LOT of its success or lack thereof.  Look at us... Tommy Amaker couldn't rebuild the program, but he never got the facility upgrades he was promised.  We hired Beilein and sunk a bazillion hummingas into our facilities, and suddenly we have 5* and 4* talents headed to the NBA soon/someday.  Does anyone think we would have landed Mitch or Glen, if we hadn't made those investments?  Perhaps... but... perhaps not.

But don't take just UM experience for it.  Take a look at MSU's records under Jud Heathcote, for several years both before they opened Breslin and then after.  Their records take a LARGE jump.  It wasn't about Izzo taking over, either; Jud's records in Breslin were way better than before Breslin.  Similarly, look at the effect Kohl Center had on UW's record, before and after.  Similarly, look at OSU's record before VCA and after (OK, coaching change there too, right about same time, Ayers to Thad).

And, uh, Nebraska is starting to get some good looks from recruits -- and, wouldn't you know it, they have a shiny new facility opening next fall.  Hmmm.

As long as NU has D-II level facilities... THEY WILL NEVER GET GOOD RECRUITS.  They are ALWAYS GOING TO SUCK AT HOOPS (relative to the B1G), as long as the facilities suck.

Keep repeating it, it's true.


March 27th, 2013 at 5:01 PM ^

Is Beilein pre-renovation vs. post-renovation. Everybody who paid attention to Tommy at Seton Hall knew he could recruit - with the renovation he might have been out-recruiting Izzo and Matta.

There was a very loud contingent who thought that Beilein could not recruit - that the kind of commits he got at Canisius and Richmond represented his ceiling and UM was going to be competing with Northwestern and Butler for Douglasses and Vogriches until the AD wised up and sent a shipping container full of money to Rick Pitino. Thanks to the facilities renovations, an excellent staff of assistants, and the program's success on the court, Beilein has silenced those fools for good. I hope.

snarling wolverine

March 27th, 2013 at 11:07 PM ^

Yeah.  It was Amaker who signed Manny Harris, DeShawn Sims and Epke Udoh, at a time when we had no plans for a practice facility or to renovate Crisler.   He was able to recruit well despite the facility problems.  

It certainly doesn't hurt to have top-of-the-line facilities, and probably helps with some guys, but exactly how much it can help is up for debate.  Northwestern may be a school where an upgrade could help more than most places, because they don't have history or a large fanbase to use as selling points - they need something to hang their hat on (aside from academics).





March 27th, 2013 at 12:46 PM ^

His lifetime record at NW was 192-220 and 70-150 in Big Ten play over 13 years. He had 8 losing seasons and only 5 winning seasons overal, none of which ended with a birth in the NCAA tournament. His best conference record was 8-8 back in 03-04.

I have no idea whether Collins will be a good head coach for them or not. But to say a guy with a .318 conference winning percentage over 13 years with no NCAA tournament births has proven he can win is just wrong. He had his chance and failed, I think Northwestern made a good move in attempting to go in a different direction.


March 27th, 2013 at 12:00 PM ^

at least in football, there are a ton of crappy teams for NW to improve against. B1G basketball is a different animal and being that they play in a high school gym, it's going to be hard for anyone to suceed there until they get some serious facilities upgrades


March 27th, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

I think they're planning a pretty dramatic upgrade of Welsh-Ryan once they move the football practice facilities to a new building that's going to be located near the lake. I think they're seeing Crisler as a model for doing a total gut renovation. Now, that's probably limited due to the building's shell, but NU's dumping $250 million into new athletic facilities.

And in basketball, you can really turn a team's culture around from getting 2 or 3 really good recruits. It's a lot harder to turn a football team. This will show just how good a recruiter Collins is. Duke certainly recruits itself to a major degree, but he's pulled in some big names.

Bando Calrissian

March 27th, 2013 at 12:09 PM ^

Facilities upgrades are nothing compared to the deeply engrained apathy towards athletics in Evanston. Literally no one cares, purely because they've never really had a reason to. They're about to dump a gazillion dollars into a new athletic and fitness center up north by the lake, and all people seem to care about is the fact they're bulldozing a huge parking lot to do it. 

Student/staff parking>Athletics facilities upgrades.


March 27th, 2013 at 3:24 PM ^

Looking at it like that then, Chris Collins is not a bad move if they are marketing themselves as "Chicago's Big Ten Team". Now, they have two young coaches, both Chicago area natives to boot, in charge of their football and basketball programs. I believe Collins has brought some fairly decent Chicagoland talent to Duke as well, so that might provide a boost as well. If Jim Phillips' idea is to not miss out on the Ben Brusts and Lenzelle Smiths (both Chicago area natives) of the world, this isn't a bad move at all.  

snarling wolverine

March 27th, 2013 at 5:17 PM ^

You're going a little overboard with all the "literallys" here.  There are obviously some who care about NW's athletics and demand improvement, or else Carmody would have never been fired.  And there certainly is room for them to grow their fanbase.  There are plenty of people in any big city who don't have a rooting allegiance anywhere, because they didn't attend a sports school.  Also, there are some people who are just casual fans of other schools, and they can be "poached" by NW if they are successful enough.  Some of our basketball fanbase was poached by MSU when we were down, for instance.  The polls asking people to identify themselves as fans of a particular school are surprisingly variable.  


March 27th, 2013 at 8:59 PM ^


There are obviously some who care about NW's athletics and demand improvement, or else Carmody would have never been fired.


Now that Pat Ryan's retired and the Chicago Olympics bid has been put to bed, I suppose he doesn't have much left to do but meddle in the Northwestern athletics program. So you're absolutely right: there are some.

Whether he can simply "demand improvement" over what was probably the high-water mark of the last century of Northwestern basketball isn't clear. The last coach to leave Northwestern with a winning conference record retired during WW1.

snarling wolverine

March 27th, 2013 at 11:05 PM ^

Whether they actually will improve, I don't know.  But they wouldn't have fired Carmody if they didn't think his level of performance was beneath their goal for the program.  Carmody took them to four straight NITs, which is historically good for them.  Earlier NW administrations may have accepted that.  The current one evidently will not.  That's new.  Whether they will give the new coach the resources to succeed is the next question.





March 27th, 2013 at 12:31 PM ^

If Collins can get one or two really solid recruits that will make a huge difference.  Where as one or two really good players aren't going to make a big difference in how well a football team performs since there's 22 guys starting, 1 or 2 guys can make a big difference in how a basketball team performs. 


March 28th, 2013 at 10:14 AM ^

Hire former Duke coach with a great recruiting reputation, change to an up-tempo style, improve the facilities. It's a good strategy....


Northwestern is among the finalists for three highly regarded prospects....

``If he can get a couple of those kind of kids, it will be a hell of a good year,`` said Van Coleman, who publishes the National Recruiter`s Cage Letter. ``And if they can take that kind of step forward again next year, they start to turn the program.``

Wherever he has been, Foster and assistants Bill Donlon and Jim Brewer have been selling Northwestern`s academic reputation and improved athletic facilities, the opportunity to play right away and the up-tempo style of play Foster favors.


Oh, wait. That was 1986.