Chris Collins has done what no other coach has done. Take Northwestern to the NCAA tournament. And if it wasn't for a missed goaltending call against Gonzaga in the round of 32, the Wildcats might be in the Sweet Sixteen right now. Collins and Northwestern won 24 games this year, a school record.
Since taking over in 2013, Collins's teams in Evanston have steadily gotten better. His first year saw 14 wins, then 15 wins, then last year despite some tough injuries, the Wildcats won 20 games. This year the team was healthier and older and it showed, going 24-12, falling to Gonzaga in the round of 32 after fighting back from a big deficit.
As a Coach K disciple his teams feature a lot of dribble drive and some motion principles. On defense he's more willing to go to zone than Coach K has traditionally but at Northwestern that makes a bit more senses
Here are high offensive and defensive efficiency numbers in his four seasons as a head coach at Northwestern:
|2013-14||288||23||38th in def eFG%||14-19|
|2014-15||101||187||38th in block%||15-17|
|2015-16||72||87||34th in def eFG%||20-12|
|2016-17||58||31||29th in t/o%||24-12|
The defensive results were surprisingly good, especially his first and most recent season. His second and third year teams in Evanston were a bit beset by injuries.
Here is his full coaching record including Big Ten results:
|Year||W/L||W/L %||Conf||W/L %||Postseason|
Collins grew up in Illinois and is familiar with recruiting the state of Indiana as evidenced that his team's best player is from the state (Bryant McIntosh).
Collins father Doug is a famous NBA player, coach and color commentator. Doug Collins played college at Illinois State and later coached the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. Though not as tall as his father, Collins was a McDonald's All-American out of Glenbrook North in Illinois and went to Duke, earning All-ACC Rookie team honors as a freshman. While he didn't win a national title as a player, he did play in the Final Four and was Duke team captain his senior season.
After Duke, Collins played overseas in Finland for two years. He then returned to the United States and became an assistant coach for the Detroit Shock in the WNBA before going to Seton Hall for two years under Tommy Amaker. In 2000 he joined Coach K's staff at Duke and stayed until leaving for Northwestern in 2013.
Why he might not come
Making a move within the same conference is fairly rare. Michigan made a run at Wildcat football coach Pat Fitzgerald a few years ago and struck out despite all the financial resources it has available. Collins could think he's just getting started in Evanston and with his family ties to the area, his bar has to be high for a departure. That bar could be Duke, his alma mater. Collins might currently be the odds on favorite to replace Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who turned 70 years old last month.
It's quite possible Indiana could view Collins as someone with not enough of a track record for the Indiana job. Many coaches have built a good team or two but consistency is key to staying at a place at Indiana and Collins has only been a head coach for four seasons.
Why he may come
Indiana can offer much more money and a chance to make the tournament about every season. There's precedent for jumping within conferences. Tubby Smith left Georgia for Kentucky and jumps within leagues has happened a few times in college football.
While Collins has only been the head coach for four years his pedigree is unique. He's the son of a well known coach and worked 13 years under the game's most famous coach. Add in his playing days at Duke and he has 17 years under Coach K.
Those years at Duke had him recruiting for the nation's best players year in and year out. At Northwestern he's out-dueled other Big Ten and well known programs for top players like Mcintosh, Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey.
We think there;s a good chance Collins would jump for this job if offered. Getting Northwestern into the NCAAs this year may make him feel less guilty for leaving at this time. While the Duke opportunity could be enticing it's not a guarantee he would get that offer and it certainly won't be easy to replace such a legend. That rarely works out for the first successor. From the Indiana perspective you get a midwest guy who is a bit of a branch of the Bob Knight tree having played for Coach K. You also get a young guy with a popular personality who is young enough to have a 20-25 year run if things go well.