We have reached the point in the college basketball offseason where brainstorming story ideas leads to a dead end. There’s nothing big going on with Northwestern hoops at the moment, other than recruiting stuff, a couple of players hitting the gym and the team getting together for summer workouts. Fortunately, coach Chris Collins gave us something to discuss at the watercooler.
In an interview with SI.com’s Brian Hamilton, Collins was asked the following question. “If you have a vision of how you want things to look a year for now, what would that be?” Here is his response (bold mine):
“I just want to take another step forward. And I don't know what that is. I don't want to put a number of wins on it. The step forward this past year was creating a foundation and culture of our program and to see how hard our guys played and competed. We had some big wins, we had some games we didn't play as well, but it was more about our effort on a nightly basis and the way our guys trained and the way our guys practiced and prepared and how hard they competed. To me, that was a step forward, even though it might not have always been measured with wins and losses. This year we have to take another step forward. We have to play better in the non-conference, there's no question about it. That hurt us last year. I think a realistic goal for us this year is to try to be a postseason team. We were a couple wins shy of that this year, and I think that's a realistic goal for our team. But to do that, you can't just fast-forward to March. You have to prepare each day and you have to take care of business with each game that's in front of you.”
If you watched NU for certain stretches of last season, you’d think Collins was out over his skis with that comment. All in all, the Wildcats weren’t great, finishing second-to-last in the Big Ten standings and 131st in Ken Pomeroy’s team ratings. Those marks – combined with the departure of NU’s best player, Drew Crawford – do not inspire confidence for what the Wildcats can achieve this season.
But I don’t think reaching the postseason (not the NCAA Tournament, the postseason) is that wild a goal to aspire for, and stated my case in March. This is a question we’ll revisit in a few months, but right now, a few months off from the start of the season, what say are you?