— Chris Collins continues to rave about his sophomore center: Alex Olah excelled during last Saturday's open scrimmage. The Wildcats should play four-around-one–with a strong emphasis on perimeter play–rendering his second-year improvements necessary. But give some credit to new assistant coach Armon Gates, who appears to be coaching these big men with a flourish.
— In his first year, Collins is taking an especially hands-on approach. He's leading film sessions and focusing on the minor improvements. (Bill Carmody reportedly never went to the players' film sessions.) Word is that he was frustrated with the team's open scrimmage performance, and understandably so.
— From my perspective, former TCU transfer Nikola Cerina should earn the backup center's role. This isn't an indictment of his play as a power forward; Collins views his ideal 4-man as someone who can spread the floor. Given the permanent absence of Mike Turner, he'll need to ably spell Olah—with Chier Ajou picking up some of the minutes.
— You can expect Collins and his staff to search for a fifth-year or transfer center next offseason. This team might be one piece away from NCAA Tournament contention in 2014-15. Another Jared Swopshire-type addition would make sense here, with the Wildcats in desperate need of big man depth.
— They're also beginning pursuit of a 2015 power forward. Assistant coach Patrick Baldwin watched four-star prospect Henry Ellenson of Rice Lake (Wis.) last Thursday. He reports an extensive list of offers including Wisconsin, Georgetown and Michigan State—with many more likely to come. The Wildcats also hosted Cleveland product Dererk Pardon on GameDay weekend.
Stay tuned to PurpleWildcats.com for coverage of Northwestern basketball and recruiting news.