Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Men’s Basketball: Buie and Langborg bid farewell to collegiate careers, Northwestern’s season ends in Round of 32 loss to No. 1 Connecticut

Angeli Mittal/The Daily Northwestern
Coach Chris Collins and graduate student guard Boo Buie embrace after he left the floor one final time against No. 1 UConn Sunday night.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — With all of the joys and jubilations of surpassing multiple program accolades and making consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, the end of graduate student guard Boo Buie’s career was inevitable.

“I was hoping (Buie’s career) would last a few more games,” coach Chris Collins said. “I knew the time would come. It’s been a special journey. The bond you have with your point guard, the ups and downs, the frustrations, the joys. We became very close through all of that.”

With about 1:30 left to play in Northwestern’s Round of 32 clash with No. 1 Connecticut, Collins removed Buie from the game, marking the end of his storied collegiate career. 

Collins and Buie shared a long, emotional embrace on the sidelines that continued as the final minute of play unraveled. Side-by-side for the past five seasons — enduring countless trials and tribulations — the duo’s relationship extended far beyond the court. 

“I’m just thankful for him,” Collins said. “He’s now set the standard. He’s the GOAT for our program. For what he’s done not only with the records or the legacy as a winner, but the credibility that he’s helped give our program. A big reason was his belief, his fight and his will to fight through a couple of lean years early and get to the other side.” 

During Buie’s first three seasons as a Wildcat, NU was at the bottom of the Big Ten standings, making aspirations toward competing in meaningful, national-attention games late in March seemingly far-fetched. 

After unwavering belief in one another and consistent commitment in the program, Buie’s career-finale Sunday marked the end of a chapter he wrote over the past two seasons.

“It’s bigger than today’s game,” Buie said. “I won’t be able to ever put this uniform on again. I can’t say I’m not proud of what we were able to do this season and last season. Coach and I have been building this since I was a freshman…The university itself has shown me so much love and support, and I know I’m always going to come to Evanston and people will welcome me.” 

While NU trailed for the entirety of Sunday’s contest and was dealt a convincing, season-ending 75-58 loss, the game’s implications served monumental proportions hours before the game’s opening tip. 

Stepping onto the floor ahead of his team’s clash, Collins took a minute to assess his surroundings, appreciating Buie and his team’s efforts over the past few years to get to this stage. 

“When I walked out to the Barclays Center floor before the game, and I saw the environment in that building, it made me be in awe of these guys,” Collins said. “(For) what they did for our program. For the fact that we are playing in these games now, and we got a chance to do it last year. It’s all because of these guys — they led the way all year long.” 

Entering the intermission, the ‘Cats faced an insurmountable 40-18 deficit. The Huskies shot 16-of-30 from the field and NU was bucketless from beyond the arc on eight attempts. 

But in attempts to send Buie out the right way, Collins’ team put up a more competitive battle in the second frame, outscoring UConn 40-35.  

I was just really proud of how we fought for the rest of the night,” Collins said. “A lot of teams might lay down when you go down 27 or 28. That’s just not who these guys are. We fought for (every) game this year. This was a special team to coach with everything that was thrown at them — the injuries, the curveballs, the adversity.” 

The ‘Cats suffered season-ending injuries to two of their starting senior players — guard Ty Berry and center Matthew Nicholson — who both played alongside Buie for the past four seasons.

An emotional Collins postgame admitted he wished Buie had the opportunity to compete with the ‘Cats’ full roster — a team he believed was capable of making a deep postseason run. 

“I was really heartbroken for (Buie) that we couldn’t come into the (NCAA Tournament) full strength,” Collins said. “I wanted him to deserve the opportunity to go for a (run). I wanted to get him out of the game, so he can get that ovation because that’s what he deserves. That’s how much he’s meant to this program.” 

And, Sunday’s loss also marked the finale of graduate student guard Ryan Langborg’s collegiate career.

After four formidable years at Princeton, Langborg’s lone season as a Wildcat proved extremely valuable for a team that lost two of its key starters — guard Chase Audige and forward Robbie Beran — at the end of last season. 

“(Tonight) was not the way we wanted to end it off,” Langborg said. “I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity for (Collins and Buie) and the rest of the team to (give me) the chance to contribute. I feel like what we did this year was really special on and off the court. We’re all brothers for life, and I want to thank Northwestern for everything.” 

But, with all of the adversity thrown at the team this year, Collins said he feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach tough-minded and valiant leaders like Buie and Langborg. 

The ‘Cats starting backcourt duo’s careers on the court may have finished, but the magical season they wrote will remain etched in the program’s history forever. 

“I was the lucky one that got the chance to coach this team,” Collins said. “Hopefully I guided them in the right direction… I loved coaching this team. They gave me everything they had. When you’re a coach, that’s all you can really ask for.” 

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