On Thursday morning, Chris Collins took to the podium at Big Ten Media Days in Washington, D.C. to talk about his team this year.
- Collins has had to play a lot of younger guys in his first few seasons, but that’s not as much the case this year. “It’s nice to have a little bit more of a veteran bunch. We know each other well and preseason has gone well, so looking forward to seeing — it’s such a long year — looking forward to seeing where this journey will take us and what we can become, but we have high aspirations and feel like we have a chance to be competitive this year.”
- Northwestern lost Alex Olah and Joey van Zegeren last year, so sophomore Dererk Pardon and freshman Barret Benson will be taking over there. “It’s gonna be key to our success this year... Dererk, coming into his sophomore year, I think he’s ready to take that role on.” He added both Pardon and Benson will see major minutes.
- Collins addressed keys to making the NCAA Tournament: “The first thing is you can’t skip steps along the way. You can’t let your mind wander to March. The games in November or December are just as important as in late February and early March.” He also mentioned health as a big issue, having lost Vic Law, Alex Olah and Joey van Zegeren for stretches of time last year. He added getting better as the season goes along and winning close games as other keys.
- Collins defended the non-conference schedule he has this year and had last year. “It’s such an important component to what we do to try to build your team up and try to build a resume. For us last year, we felt that it was a schedule that was gonna help that team.” This year’s non-conference schedule features a trip to Butler, a game against Texas in New York City and a game versus Dayton at the United Center. “I think we have more experience this year, which helps, so adding more games in the non-conference... those are gonna present some great challenges to our team.”
- Injuries have already hurt NU, with Rapolas Ivanauskas out for the year. “When you lose a guy for the season, I hate it. The good part about it is he has the opportunity the hopefully get a medical redshirt and get healthy... It can never hurt for a freshman to come in and learn what it’s all about.”
- Coming back, though, is Vic Law. “Vic is a key guy for us and a big loss last year. He’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades type of player. He’s gonna be a guy that does a little bit of everything.” He mentioned Law as a scorer, versatile defender, good shooter and rebounder with good length. “For us to be a good team, we’re gonna need good play out of Vic Law for sure.”
- Bryant McIntosh was left off the preseason All-Big Ten team, but that didn’t stop Collins from heaping praise. “I wouldn’t trade Bryant for any guard in college basketball. I love the kid. He’s been with me since Day One.” But Collins also admitted he tries to stay away from the “outside stuff.” “You get what you earn... We know what we have in Bryant.”
- Collins left the stage with a “Go Cubs.”
Here’s the full video: