Chris Quinn adds NBA Experience to Northwestern Men’s Basketball Staff

WNUR’s Michael Stern (michaeljstern23) speaks with new Northwestern basketball staff member Chris Quinn about his role on the team and discusses Quinn’s strengths with his former coach, Mike Brey.

Photo: Doug Benc/Getty Images North America

Photo: Doug Benc/Getty Images North America

Chris Quinn arrives early to Northwestern University’s men’s basketball practice prepared to watch every shot, rebound, and pass of practice.

One thing Quinn won’t be doing during practice: coaching.

In his new position as the Wildcats’ director of player development, Quinn said there are restrictions on when and where he is allowed to talk to players.

“I’m not allowed to actually go on the court and coach players. I do a lot of stuff behind the scenes,” Quinn said Tuesday before practice.

While Northwestern’s press release announcing Quinn’s hiring does not state his specific duties, a press release from Duke University, where current Northwestern head coach Chris Collins served as an assistant, says duties of Duke’s special assistant “include assisting the coaching staff in developing game strategies, breaking down game film, planning practices and contributing in staff meetings.”

Quinn appears to have the same role, but a different title, at Northwestern. While Quinn admits Northwestern’s coaches have “more experience than me from a coaching perspective,” few basketball players anywhere have had better coaches than Quinn.

Quinn played point guard for four years at the University of Notre Dame under coach Mike Brey, who was an assistant coach at Duke University when Collins played for the Blue Devils. In the NBA, Quinn played for Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley on the Miami Heat, as well as current San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and current Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra. Quinn also attended basketball camps run by Collins’ father, former Chicago Bulls head coach Doug Collins, Brey said.

“I’ve learned a ton from all of them,” Quinn said. “They inspired me to let me continue to be involved in the game once my playing career was over.”

Brey said he talked to Quinn about the Northwestern job and told Quinn he “thought it would be a great idea” for him to take the job.

Brey said Quinn “was the first kid I signed and recruited” at Notre Dame, and described Quinn as a “winner” with a  “high basketball IQ.”

Brey remembered Quinn serving as the sixth man during the 2002-2003 season as a true freshman. Brey said that team, which reached the Sweet 16, had a “great mix of older guys and talented young guys.”

During that season, Quinn came off the bench, scored 12 points, and defended Dwyane Wade as the Irish upset 14th-ranked Marquette in December. Brey also remembered Quinn’s 37-point, 9-assist game in a January 2006 double-overtime loss at Pittsburgh.

Quinn’s teammates also noticed during his playing days that he would make a good coach. Tom Timmermans played with Quinn at Notre Dame for two seasons and now works in the University of North Carolina’s Athletic Compliance Office.

“On each team, there are two or three other players where I think, hey, they might be a coach; Chris was one,” Timmermans said.

Chris Thomas, who played with Quinn for three seasons and now works at an Indianapolis insurance agency, also thinks Quinn will perform well in his new role. Thomas said Quinn is “kind of no-nonsense, in he believes hard work will pay off…he was always in the gym the longest.”

For now, Quinn cannot be in the gym with the team often, but he hopes to have an impact on this year’s Wildcats.

“I believe in Coach Collins and what he’s trying to do here,” Quinn said.

Quinn said Northwestern is “a special university, similar to my alma mater. It values a lot of the same things.”

Quinn plans to help the coaching staff in “establishing a culture built on attention to detail and hard work. Hopefully that leads to more wins.” Quinn hopes to eventually move from player development to a coaching position, and Thomas and Brey think he will succeed once he does.

“He has always had an eye on showing people that his way isn’t the way that everybody goes, but it works,” Thomas said.

Brey said he has talked to Quinn about coaching at Notre Dame in the future. Brey also said he thought “a lot of people, in both the NBA and the NCAA,” would be interested in hiring Quinn if he decided to pursue a coaching job.

“I’m not really sure where this will lead, but coaching and basketball is something I love,” Quinn said. “I’d love to see where it takes me.

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