Wednesday, November 6, 2019

CSO Q and A with Northwestern coach Chris Collins

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan- USA TODAY Sports

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Welcome to another edition of CSO’s Q and A as I sit down with college coaches and players across college sports for in-depth questions sprinkled in with a little bit of fun. The latest edition focuses on Chris Collins, as he enters his seventh season as head coach at Northwestern.

Green: How much of an impact have the new facilities on campus had on recruiting?

Collins: I think it has made a big impact. It will start to manifest itself as these guys get older. Our sophomore class in Pete Nance, Miller Cobb, Ryan Young and Ryan Greer were the first class that saw the facilities come to fruition. If you look at it on paper, that and our freshman class are our two most successful recruiting classes since I have been head coach. Now, it is up to those guys to become the players we think they can become. When you are in the Big Ten, it is probably not going to rear its head until you see these guys develop because it is a league based on veterans, experience and toughness. 

Green: You mentioned about the sophomore class, what about their progressions in the off-season?

Collins: The two guys in particular, Nance and Cobb— those guys were recruited to be centerpiece guys for future Northwestern teams. They both had different types of freshman years as Miller showed signs as the season went along, while Nance had mono halfway through the season and ruined the rest of his campaign, but both of those guys have had great off-seasons and their bodies look good. Pete has gained about 25 pounds of muscle and is able to play through contact a little bit more. Both are poised to break out and have the potential to be All-Big Ten players in their time here.

Green: What were some of your favorite landmarks you visited during the off-season trip to Europe?

Collins: We were able to go to some iconic places, such as Rome and that stood out to me because of all of the ancient artifacts, to go along with being at The Vatican, The Coliseum, The Forum, The Pantheon to see the ancient civilization, which was cool to see. We also got to see the high end of life in Italy seeing places like Lake Como, the French Riviera and Monte Carlo and we did it by design so that we could leave an impact on the players.

Green: In your previous six seasons at Northwestern, is there a player who stood out from a character standpoint on and off the court as someone anyone should look up to?

Collins: I have been fortunate to have a lot of great guys for sure, but when you look at the overall body of work of a kid like Derek Pardon, who wasn’t a top-300 player coming out of high school and didn’t have any other high-major offers other than us. We believed in him, he believed in us and worked in every area on and off the floor. He exceeded as a student and did whatever the team needed for practices and got better every single season. It just so happens he ends up being the guy to hit the game-winning shot to help us get to our first-ever NCAA tournament in 2017. The way he represented himself embodied everything I want the rest of our players to be like.

Green: Since returning to the Chicago Bulls organization, how much of an influence has your father, Doug Collins been in terms of observing your players?

Collins: It’s been fun for him to be a grandfather figure to the program. He’s really good about understanding that it is my program and if he stops by, he is in the background and watches us play. Our guys know him and the relationships they have been able to have with him have been awesome. The players hearing stories about coaching Michael Jordan and playing in the Olympic has also served as motivation for the current crop of players. He leaves the coaching up to me and my staff, but has still been an amazing tool for navigating the ups and downs of a season. He’s been through the emotions as every coaching job he took in the NBA was a rebuild.