Joe’s Corner: I believe in Chris Collins

WNUR Sports Director Joe Misulonas (@jmisulonas) writes why he believes Chris Collins is the Batman that Northwestern Wildcats men’s basketball needs.

Photo by Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune

Photo by Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune

In his introductory press conference as the new head coach of the Northwestern Men’s basketball team, Chris Collins said all the right things.

He said that Northwestern had more to offer than academics. He said that Chicago’s the best sports town and, more specifically, the best basketball city in the country. He said he’ll tailor his system to his personnel, but he’ll blaze his own trail (meaning the dreaded Princeton offense will be gone next season).

And then he said something interesting. He was asked how aggressively he went after the Northwestern opening, and he replied that Northwestern was a place that needed him.

I was reminded of the Jim Gordon quote from Harvey Dent’s funeral at the end of “The Dark Knight,” when he described Dent as, “A hero. Not the hero we deserved, but the hero we we needed. Nothing less than a knight. Shining.”

And it hit me: Chris Collins is Northwestern’s Batman.

Like Bruce Wayne, he was guaranteed a life of splendor. All he had to do was sit on the Duke bench for the next five to ten years, and he would become Coach K’s successor. He would take over a nationally renowned program that is almost year in and year out a championship contender.

And he threw it away to clean up the cesspool that is Northwestern basketball.

Ok, that’s a little harsh. Northwestern had no violations during the Carmody-era, and improved considerably as a program. Thirteen years ago, Northwestern was a Big Ten bottom feeder. An ignored program. Carmody led them to their first twenty win seasons (twice) and got them onto the NCAA bubble.

But like Gotham City pre-Batman, the hope was gone after this season. At the end of 2011-12 season, every game was Northwestern’s biggest game ever. And they lost them all. They lost to Michigan, then Ohio State, then Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament. And they missed the tournament again. And then this season, they finish 13-19, and the tournament seemed farther away than it had for awhile.

And now our savior arrives. He’s finished his training with Liam Neeson and ready to do the job on his own. He sees a brighter future for our basketball program, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it done.

I don’t see Collins and Northwestern making the tournament next season. I also don’t think it’s entirely out of the question. It’ll obviously be a learning experience for him. The only problem I have with his lack of head coaching experience is it means he’s never had to devise an offensive system. He’ll have to spend the next six months trying to figure out how he wants his team to play. Are they going to remain the slow tempo, offense that they ran with Carmody? Or is there a change coming? There will certainly be a learning curve, but I’m sure with the tutelage of both Coach K and Doug Collins, he’s more than ready to handle the challenge.

But the real reason Chris Collins is our savior is he’s renewing the excitement of the NCAA Tournament run. He’s a bright face coming into the dark alley that is Welsh-Ryan Arena. Bill Carmody was always the foil to Pat Fitzgerald. Where Fitzgerald was filled with life and energy on the sidelines, Carmody was more calculating and shrewd. He didn’t get animated, and his lack of explicit enthusiasm was boring

Now Collins, the 35-year-old first time coach is taking over. He’s bursting at the seams to coach this team. He is going to instill energy and excitement into this program, the likes of which Bill Carmody never could.

Do you think Carmody’s lack of personality could have been part of the reason his teams faltered so often in big games? Was he unable to motivate his teams in the final minutes and will them to victory?

And that’s why I like Chris Collins. Not because he’s the son of a NBA coach or the protege of Mike Krzyzewski, or that he’s recruited the Chicago-area well, or that he believes that Welsh-Ryan is a perfectly fine basketball stadium (ok, so he said some things to please his bosses in his press conference).

No, the reason I like Chris Collins is he is going to put the fire back into the Northwestern basketball team that was extinguished after this dreadful season. He’s not the coach we deserve after posting at 13-19 record. But he’s the one we need.

I believe in Chris Collins.

Leave a Reply