Northwestern basketball has plenty of work to do before contending with the Big Ten’s elite teams, and the program is hoping Duke assistant Chris Collins will help the team compete in the powerhouse conference.
The Wildcats fired Bill Carmody after 13 seasons, and now the school has announced via NUSports.com that Collins will become its next coach. The report notes that Collins will stay with the Blue Devils until their season ends, and quotes him saying the following:
I'm so grateful to President Schapiro, Chairman Osborn and Dr. Phillips for the opportunity to lead the men's basketball program at one of the premier universities in the world, to compete in the Big Ten Conference, and to do so in my hometown.
The Chicago native was Mr. Basketball in Illinois in high school and went on to play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke from 1992-1996. He held assistant jobs in the WNBA and at Seton Hall before finding a spot on Coach K’s staff in 2000.
He has been at his alma mater for the past 13 years, and this will be his first head coaching position.
The Wildcats are in desperate need of new direction as Big Ten basketball has grown continually more competitive, with four of the conference’s teams currently in the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. The Northwestern program has failed to keep up.
Under Carmody, the team went just 13-19 overall this season, and 4-14 against Big Ten opponents.
To make matters worse, the Wildcats finished the season on a nine-game losing streak. During this stretch, the team only managed to lose by fewer than 10 points once, and that was to last-place Penn State.
Collins is one of the most promising assistants in the nation, and he clearly is not afraid of a challenge. Once Duke’s season ends, he will begin the difficult task of rebuilding a program while playing in the country’s toughest conference.