Men’s Basketball: Assistant coach Talor Battle aims to lift Wildcats and brother Boo’s game to new heights


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern assistant coach Talor Battle talks with Bryant McIntosh during the Cats’ exhibition game against Lindenwood. Battle is in his first year on the sideline with NU, where he is teaming up with his brother, Boo Buie.

John Riker, Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

When Talor Battle was an assistant coach at Penn State, he had the unique position of facing his young brother, Northwestern junior guard Boo Buie, in conference play. 

Battle’s Nittany Lions had the upper hand in the matchup in Buie’s two seasons, winning two of three games against the Wildcats.

“We wanted to win the game, but I was rooting for him at the same time,” Battle said of Buie, who is 11 years his junior. “Now, I get to concentrate on trying to focus on us winning games and him playing well, so it’s all together.”

NU is entering a pivotal season with its core now comprised of juniors and seniors. Coach Chris Collins sent youngsters like Buie, senior forward Pete Nance, junior forward Robbie Beran and junior center Ryan Young into Big Ten action almost as soon as they stepped on campus. The result? A squad that has an abundance of game experience. 

And after doubling their conference win total in 2020-21, the Cats are hoping hiring Battle in the spring can help this squad — his brother included — take the next step into Big Ten contention.

“I’ve known these guys for a couple years now because, obviously including my brother Boo, I built relationships with all these guys,” Battle said. “I’m just really looking forward to just helping as much as I can and being part of something successful.”

For Collins, Battle’s experience as a standout player at Penn State is one of his most valuable assets. 

Battle starred for the Nittany Lions from 2007-11, finishing his career as a two-time All-Big Ten selection and the program’s all-time leading scorer. Battle’s teams also tasted postseason glory, winning the NIT in 2009 and reaching the NCAA tournament in 2011.

“He’s young, he’s energetic and he was a great player in this league,” Collins said. “So there’s a lot of things that he can impart on our guys, playing in this league, succeeding in this league.”

Buie had a front-row seat for Battle’s action at the Bryce Jordan Center. Now a three-year starter and point guard himself, Buie says he is still learning from his brother’s example. 

“He has a lot of knowledge, so he just teaches me and shows me things,” Buie said. “I don’t always handle what he says right, but he’s a big brother and he just wants the best for me and he wants the best for everyone on the team.”

That connection will be crucial in the upcoming season, with Buie aiming at a breakout campaign as a junior. He has flashed the potential to be a big-time scorer throughout his NU basketball career, scoring 25 or more points four times and leading the Cats in three-point shooting last season. But Buie has struggled with shooting slumps in his first two years in Evanston.

According to Collins, building that consistency has been a point of emphasis through the preseason.

“That’s such an important position, and Boo has shown signs of being a top-tier point guard in this league, and we need him to be there on a consistent level,” Collins said. “I think (Talor) will be able to really help with that as well.”

Battle called the experience of teaming up with his brother “a blessing” — the two have enjoyed dinners together from time to time — but he has also been working on the rest of the Cats’ development. A decade removed from his glory days at Penn State, Battle has even been able to “get out there and show it” on the basketball court during practice, according to Collins.

With accomplished careers both playing and coaching in the Big Ten, Battle knows full well the task at hand in transforming NU into a postseason threat in one of the nation’s toughest conferences. It’s a challenge he’s embracing as the season nears.

“The Big Ten is always one of the best leagues in the country and last year was probably the best it’s ever been,” Battle said. “I’m not sure it will be as crazy as that, but each and every night you’re going to get the best from everyone in this league.”

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