Duke reacts to Chris Collins-Northwestern news

Marc Serota

Duke has deeeeeeeep connections, and a lot of those people said nice things about Chris Collins being Northwestern's next coach.

I think we know what Northwestern people think about the idea of Chris Collins coming to Northwestern - we're pumped, etc. - so what about the people who know him the best? i.e. the people who have spent the last 37-ish years with him at Duke?

So far as I can tell, Coach Krzyzewski hasn't spoken on this at length yet - he did say it was "terrific" - but pretty much every other person in the universe has.

For starters, whichever PlumleeClone is playing at Duke right now had his thoughts:

"He was the first person that recruited me. First of all, I think that’s a great, great fit for him. I mean I’m not a coach myself, but knowing coach Collins he knows that area very well. He’s a guy that players respect. I think just being around him in my first week of practice here I was like, ‘This guy knows what he’s doing, knows what he’s talking about.’ Obviously, he has had the experience. He’s been around great coaches his whole life. I think he’s going to fit into that mold very well…I’m just glad he hung around for me last year. He’s fun to be around just practice, in the locker room. He’s a fun coach."

So he "knows what he's doing!" Good to know.

Neil Hayes talked to several active members of the Duke team, all of whom had been recruited by Collins. It seems the defining characteristic is Collins' animated nature, which comes across during games and practices, which is dream news to everybody who thought Bill Carmody never made the tournament because he liked to stand calmly on the sidelines while coaching.

There's also this from Quinn Cook:

"He has put in the work here. He has put in the time. He deserves a head-coaching job at a big-time school and I'm sure he's ready for it."

People said Chris Collins couldn't do it. That he couldn't help Northwestern reach the big time. But yesterday, Thursday, March 28, 2013, before he even officially began coaching at Northwestern, it happened: somebody referred to Northwestern as a "Big-Time School." Sure, that person was Duke guard Quinn Cook, who may or may not have ever heard of Northwestern, but still. Thanks, Coach Collins, it's been a great run and we're glad to have had you.

Another interesting factoid in there is that freshman forward Amile Jefferson said Collins still plays regularly, which makes sense, you know, because he's 38. I look forward to seeing him at SPAC. Well, I would if I still went to school. (Non-sequitur, but I had always hoped somebody would dig up some tapes of Bill Carmody playing basketball in college, but I don't think that has ever or will ever happen.)

Did you know there are Duke players in the NBA? I did. In fact, I looked it up yesterday: 17 of Chris Collins' former players - and one of his former teammates, HANG IT UP, GRANT - are active in the NBA right now. (By comparison, 14 players in NBA history have gone to Northwestern.) Two Dukies play for the Chicago Bulls!

"Yes! I’m so happy," Luol Deng said. "Chris recruited me [to come to Duke] and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He’s a great guy. He talks to me throughout the whole season and I’m glad he’s closer now. I’m really happy for him."

"Thanks for mentioning me, cuzzo" - Chier Ajou, who still may or may not be Luol Deng's cousin

"I believe in anyone who’s coming out of the Duke system," said Deng. "Coach K is an unbelievable coach and a lot of coaches that have left that program have done well and have been really successful in other places."

***LUOL DENG REFUTES THE COACH K ASSISTANTS CAN'T BE SUCCESSFUL COACHES THEORY OF 2013***

"Chris Collins knows how to win," offered Boozer. "Being under Coach K, he’s going to be able to give insight to his team on how to get [to the tournament] and he’s going to take that program to another level. He’s a great person. He’s been a good friend for a long time and I’m happy for him. He’s coming home."

Carlos Boozer has pretty deep insight about Northwestern's needs as a program.

Oh, and then there's this guy:

Is it normal to have an assistant coach as your groomsman, or is everybody at Duke weird?

I felt reporting on this story was pretty shoddy, so I went ahead and asked other former Duke players in the NBA how they felt about this event.

Shane Battier:

Splendid! I've spent many an evening, sipping Chianti by the moonlight in my study, wondering when Master Collins would cast aside his bounds to Duke and spring forth, like the butterfly from the cocoon, a beast transformed, and it appears the day hath arrived.

Chris Duhon:

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Mason Miles Whichever PlumleeClone is in the NBA now

"He was the first person that recruited me. First of all, I think that’s a great, great fit for him. I mean I’m not a coach myself, but knowing coach Collins he knows that area very well. He’s a guy that players respect. I think just being around him in my first week of practice here I was like, ‘This guy knows what he’s doing, knows what he’s talking about.’ Obviously, he has had the experience. He’s been around great coaches his whole life. I think he’s going to fit into that mold very well…I’m just glad he hung around for me last year. He’s fun to be around just practice, in the locker room. He’s a fun coach."

Mike Dunleavy, Jr.

Great! That's great for him. Being the son of a coach, Father always told me he wouldn't love me unless I surpassed his accomplishments in every field he participated in, so it's good to see Chris start on that path.

Shavlik Randolph:

Northwestern? He'd better watch out to make sure they don't bring their gayness all up on him.

Also Dukin? Duke Basketball Report:

It’s a tough job, there’s no question: Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament. We can’t think of another school from a major conference that can say that.

You can't think of one? Try harder. I'll wait.

It’s a position that fairly screams for a smart, highly energetic guy who can identify talented, driven players who can succeed on and off the court. Collins certainly fits the profile.

It doesn't really fit here, but I'm not putting it anywhere else, so, here goes: Doug Collins also talked about his son's first head coaching job while absolutely praying for the Sixers' season to be over.

“I know that Chris is very excited about the opportunity,” Doug Collins said. “I know Northwestern is committed to putting a good basketball [team] out on the court.

I don't normally discuss parenthetical inserts - it just happens in reporting - but "putting a good basketball [team] out on the court" is fascinating. Maybe our problem at NU is that we've just been focused in putting one good basketball out on the court, and that other teams have been using that basketball to beat us in basketball.

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