Men’s Basketball: Collins discusses scheduling, says Northwestern won’t play post-Big Ten Tournament game


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Chris Collins looks on during an NCAA Tournament game in March. Collins said Monday that Northwestern has had some difficulties scheduling non-conference games for next season.

Cole Paxton, Web Editor

Men’s Basketball

An abnormally early Big Ten Tournament has made scheduling “more difficult than ever,” said coach Chris Collins, who added that Northwestern will not play a game after the conference tournament despite its premature finish.

“You’re going to see a lot of games bunched up in November and December — more than ever — because of the way the schedule falls and us now having to be done a week earlier than we have in the past,” Collins said. “It was harder to find those dates to … figure out.”

Collins spoke to The Daily on Monday following the dedication of a new basketball court at Twiggs Park, located in the 5th Ward. The project, a collaborative effort among the athletic department, Dynegy and the City of Evanston, replaced the decaying, old court with a new one emblazoned with Northwestern logos.

The fifth-year coach touched on a number of topics, including the importance of supporting the Evanston community, the departure of assistant coach Pat Baldwin and the quick hiring of Billy Donlon to replace him.

Collins said he felt “like a proud papa” when Baldwin accepted the head coaching position at Milwaukee, the first shakeup of Collins’ staff since he arrived in 2013. He added that he was excited to add Donlon — “someone I’ve known since he was in fifth grade,” Collins said — who like Collins played under current NU assistant Brian James at Glenbrook North High School.

On scheduling, Collins indicated that he had considered playing a game after the Big Ten Tournament ends March 4, but decided against it. That became a possibility when the conference shifted the tournament up a week from its normal time to play in Madison Square Garden in New York.

In May, athletic director Jim Phillips told The Daily that the conference was considering several options, including scheduling conference games after the Big Ten Tournament to fill the weeklong stretch until the NCAA Tournament field is announced. Though some teams may choose to add a non-conference opponent in that span, the Cats will not.

“We felt it was best if we are in a position to be in the postseason, which we hope to be afterwards, to use that time to get our legs right, to get practice time and hopefully put ourselves in a position to be successful,” Collins said.

Collins also spoke generally on recruiting, which made headlines recently as the Cats landed two four-star recruits, according to 247 Sports: point guard Jordan Lathon and small forward Pete Nance, the highest-ranked recruit in program history. Lathon is seen as a logical replacement for Bryant McIntosh, who will graduate just before Lathon arrives in Evanston, and Nance is also expected to be an immediate contributor for NU.

“We’ve had a group of guys that have been very instrumental in making our program relevant. Over the next couple years that group of guys is going to be graduating,” Collins said. It’s very important for us to continue to get the right fit. … I’m excited where the future is.”

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