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Indiana coaching search: Chris Collins saved Northwestern. Would he leave for the Hoosiers?

Northwestern’s Chris Collins could be the coach IU has been looking for since the Knight years.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Coaching Career

After spending sixteen seasons as a long-time assistant for the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, Seton Hall and his alma mater of Duke, Chris Collins took the risky head coaching assignment at Northwestern in 2013. After four seasons in Evanston, Collins led the Wildcats to their first NCAA tournament appearance in school history in 2017 and won the programs first-ever tourney game against Vanderbilt, 68-66.

All of this makes him a hot commodity among major college basketball programs such as Indiana who are searching for a new head coach. In his four years at Northwestern, Collins has gone 70-58 with a 30-42 record in Big Ten play.

Why He’s a Good Fit

The obvious. He coached Northwestern to an NCAA tournament. Who the hell does that!? Bill Carmody is a fine coach who was in Evanston for thirteen years and he could never do it. Collins also proved he could win in the Big Ten…AT NORTHWESTERN! He somehow found a way to turn around the doormat of the Big Ten who had never been to the tournament in its history and led them to the top of the conference and a tournament in just four years. Indiana needs somebody that can accomplish similar impossible tasks like getting James Blackmon Jr. to move his feet on defense.

He has good coaching pedigree. Collins is the son of NBA legend Doug Collins, played at Duke from 1992 to 1996 for Mike Krzyzewski and then spent thirteen years as an assistant for Coach K. He learned the tricks of the trade from the best in the business and one of them just so happened to be a protégé of another legendary coach from Bloomington. After having his name thrown around as a potential head coaching candidate for years, many questioned Collins’ decision to take on lowly Northwestern. It turns out he might’ve learned a thing or two from his mentor based off of his success there.

He knows how to win with local recruits. One of the many criticisms of Tom Crean was that he didn’t take the Bob Knight route to recruiting and go after more players from Indiana, Illinois and Ohio despite the fact that Crean found some quality locals such as Blackmon Jr., Jordan Hulls, Cody Zeller and Collin Hartman. Collins has proven at both Northwestern and Duke that he can recruit and utilize the best players in the region. At Northwestern, his best players from this year included Bryant McIntosh from Indiana and Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law both from Illinois. At Duke, he was instrumental in bringing Illinois high school legend Jon Scheyer to Durham. Perhaps Collins could bring back the traditional recruiting style that many longtime fans have called for during Crean’s tenure.

Why He Wouldn’t Fit

His success could be misleading. What if Collins’ success has just been magnified because it’s been at Northwestern? There’s no doubt that leading the Wildcats to an NCAA birth is an amazing feat but they did so in one of the weakest fields that the Big Ten has seen in years. Furthermore, after a hot start to the season, Northwestern has fallen off a bit and found themselves on the tournament bubble for a moment after seemingly being a lock early on. They did the same thing last year: after starting the season 14-1, they faltered in Big Ten play and missed the tournament entirely. Collins’ teams don’t improve particularly well as the season progresses, which is all too familiar for Indiana fans.

He’s a Dukie. Do Hoosier fans really want a guy from the same douchebag academy as Christian Laettner and Grayson Allen running their program? In all honesty, being a protégé of Coach K is great to have on your resume as a coaching candidate and Collins seems like he would be a pretty good fit at Indiana. However, Collins was the stereotypical Blue Devil in his playing days and this is just a friendly reminder that those guys are assholes.