Collins done with buzz, ready to roll

Some early notes from B1G Media Days. [Jordan Bernfield contributed reporting.]

— "Everything in recruiting is about relationships," Chris Collins said in response to the never-ending discussion topic. Northwestern fans and analysts are intrigued by his immediate success on the trail, wondering whether his Duke pedigree prepared him for recruiting players who meet NU's academic standards. It's a plus, he said, to boast high-level basketball and the prospect of earning a top-10 education.

— "Buzz is nice," he added at Big Ten Media Days. "… But now we have to go out and actually show it on the floor." Given the early practice schedule and ostensible willingness to recover from last year's season-ending nine-game losing streak, Collins' team looks prepared to face real competition again. Despite his efforts to build the program hype, Collins is an "old-school" coach focused on results.

— Collins has proved expert at pitching his players and their skillsets. Asked about Sanjay Lumpkin, he called the redshirt freshman a potential starter and "glue guy"—outing him as one of NU's best defenders. If Lumpkin can prove that, he'll likely work his way into the starting lineup. They need defensive toughness in Collins' first year.

— Everyone's asking about Alex Olah, the exciting sophomore center who averaged who averaged 6.1 points per game last season, but shot under 42 percent. Collins continues to praise Olah, who owns a signature hook shot and gained critical experience against elite competition. To take the next step, Collins said, Olah will need to be even more physical.

— Collins wants to build a team of slashers—guys who aren't simply content with chucking from the three-point line. He's comfortable shooting threes–given that his team has some perimeter threats–but would hate for that to define his team. He labeled Drew Crawford, Jershon Cobb and others as "hybrid multi-faceted players" who can score from anywhere—even the post.

— "I want my players to always know that I'm in the fight with them," Collins said. Though he's generally "outward" with his emotions, Collins expects to balance his calmness and his fire to keep his team in check. It seems as though he's more excited than anyone for this season to begin; it's his first opportunity in a new and exciting role.

Jordan Bernfield contributed reporting.


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