Here’s a quick recap of what Chris Collins and some of his players had to say during Wednesday afternoon:
On the status of the basketball program: It’s a new phase to our program. It’s a whole new group. We have 8 freshmen and sophomores. It reminds me a lot of when McIntosh, Law, Pardon, and Lindsey started their journeys. I feel like we’re on the right track...The talent is there. The attitudes are there. I feel like we have a lot of pieces that can become outstanding players in our conference as they gain experience...Things are on the up-and-up in my opinion
On the competition within the Big Ten: The Big Ten is going to be murderer’s row again, just like it always is.
On improving from last season: We need to make plays late, find a way to score late in games when you need to score, get those critical stops, manage the game with time and score, and, in that scenario, we really need to improve this year if we want to make a jump with wins and losses in the conference.
On expectations for the season: We want to put ourselves in a position to have a chance...A lot’s going to have to happen. We’re a young team.
On this year’s team: I see a lot of guys who love to play, a lot of guys who have a lot of potential.
On non-conference schedule: It’s a puzzle that isn't an exact science, but you try to put it together the best you can to try to help your team.
On the front court: We have four really promising young guys (Ryan Young, Pete Nance, Jared Jones, and Robbie Beran). Those guys can be interchangeable. Because of their skillsets, you could see a combination of any two guys on the court together....including some of Pete [Nance] at the 5.
On the back court: We can be pretty versatile with lineups. We have 5 guys who can play with the ball and Miller (Kopp) who is a true wing. We have 10 guys who are all going to play.
On wearing a boot: I’ve actually practiced the past few weeks; it’s just a precautionary thing since I've come back just keeping the pressure on the ankle to be safe.
On playing point guard last season: I definitely had to step out of my comfort zone...Going through those ups and downs of being a point guard only got me better and expanded my game. It made me think differently about everything.
On Pat Spencer and Boo Buie: He (Pat Spencer) is really good at basketball. Boo can flat out play. He’s really shifty and can create his own shot. They both add unique pieces to the team.
On the team’s defense without Vic Law or Dererk Pardon: I’m predicting Anthony Gaines will be first-team all-defense. He’s a great defender. He’ll be that guy to go against the other team’s best player. With Dererk’s rebounding gone, it’ll just be a team collective effort on the glass and try to fill in.
On scoring: I’ll have more opportunities. We relied so heavily on Vic and Dererk that when other teams took those guys out of the game, we really couldn't score. I think this year will be different with myself having a bigger role and then everyone else collectively.
On healed injury: I’m full go, practicing for about a week, getting better every day, getting more in tune and getting back to the pace of it.
On defending the other team’s best player: I want that challenge. I’ve always wanted that challenge...I like running around on the floor and doing what needs to be done. I feel that defense is my identity as a player on the floor.
On improving from last season: I think we need to close games better. We didn’t do that well...It really comes down to detail and being sharp toward the ends of games. We need to be sharp and learn everyday to get better. The only way we are going to be successful is if we take a day-by-day approach.
On in-season struggles: We got young guys, and one thing we do lack is experience. It’ll take time to develop that, to have experience to grow. The more games we play, the better we will be.
On rebounding: Rebounding is definitely an area where I need to improve, but, in losing Dererk, we gain Ryan Young, one of our best rebounders right now.
On personal development: My ability to make plays, I’ve gained more experience and the game has slowed down. I’m reading the game better, making better plays, making smarter plays