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Postgame press conference notes from Northwestern’s 45-point victory over Chicago State

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The Wildcats credit a “collective effort” in their blowout win over Chicago State.

Northwestern men’s basketball advanced to 2-0 on Saturday night with a 111-66 win over the Chicago State Cougars. Here’s what Chris Collins and the players had to say following the victory.

Chris Collins

Opening statement: “Obviously it’s a great day for the ‘Cats, the West was won, which is awesome on the football side of things. I kind of got wind of that before the game. After those early window games, I knew that was a clinch. So I was fired up for Fitz and the guys, what an amazing accomplishment, and it’s been really fun watching them. Really proud of how we came out tonight and played. Obviously there’s mistakes, it’s early in the season there’s a lot of things you’ve got to improve. But I thought it was one of those games too where our firepower offensively was just able to wear them down. I think we could’ve done a lot of things better defensively. Give Chicago State credit, I thought they spread us, they tried to drive us, their guards played really freely. They took a lot of shots, and because of that, they made some shots. But our ability to keep putting pressure on them, pushing the ball, spread the wealth with around five or six guys in double figures. Twenty-eight assists on 38 made field goals, which was really good. It’s just a good week overall. Obviously we lost some games earlier in the year, it was a really important week for us to come out and play some games, see some other faces and hopefully continue to get better. We got our ACC challenge game coming up, so I know our guys are really excited about that opportunity to play Pitt on Wednesday night.”

On depth: “It’s huge because the more depth and the more confident players you have out there, the better chance you have to be successful. I’ve been saying that, I just think with the improvement of the returners and the additions of Ty Berry and Chase Audige and Anthony Gaines coming back, that’s three guys that are really good players. Like you saw even with Ty, he really struggled in the first half and in the second half he missed his first shot and then I thought he passed two wide-open looks up. I said to him, ‘You’re going to stop shooting now, just because you missed a few?’ He said ‘I got the next one’ and he made his next five shots. Robbie gets 19 tonight, Miller was so efficient, for him to get 16 points on five shots. I think Pete was aggressive down low. I think we’re the kind of team where we don’t have that one guy that we’re counting on to get 25 a night. I think we have a lot of different guys on a given night that can give us production and hopefully that can work in our favor as we move on in the season.”

On tempo: “I want to play faster. We know coming into the league, teams do a good job of slowing you up in transition a little bit. I just feel we’re going to be at our best if we can get out. We have a lot of skilled guys. We can spread the floor. I think it’s the second game in a row where we had double-figure threes. I’m not sure how many games we had last year with double figure threes. Not many. Two games in a row now, and we were 11-for-24, I didn’t even think we shot it that great to be honest. I want to be able to get out and run. I want to be able to score points. I think this is a team, we are going to shoot a lot of threes, that’s just kind of how we’re built with this group. Once we play more conventional teams, we will see Ryan Young. It’s hard they were playing five guards a lot, really spreading the floor. I thought he was effective when he was in there but he’s going to be much more effective once we play against those conventional big guys. We have nine deep, and I’m comfortable putting all of those guys in the game. Quietly, Ryan Greer has been really good. I know his points and all that. But he’s a much improved player. I feel like when he’s in we’re organized, he brings a toughness, he gets us into our stuff, he gets the ball to the right spots. When we can use our bench, you can stay at a fast pace. That’s certainly what we’ve practiced all offseason and what we want to take into the rest of the season. That’s how we want to play.”

On playing local teams more frequently: “Scheduling is a really tough dynamic. For us, the way you look at it in a normal year, we have 20 league games. In a normal season, you then have the ability to fill your nonconference. We’ve added two league games in the last couple of years. We’re going to stay at 20. We’re always going to have an ACC challenge game. So that’s going to be another high-major opponent. Other than this year, because we couldn’t go, we’re scheduled over the next four years to play in high level Thanksgiving tournaments. Next year, we’re going to be in Brooklyn with some of the biggest name programs, where we’re going to have two other really high major opponents. Right there, that’s 23 high major games right off the bat. We have a home at home with DePaul. This year we weren’t able to get that game because of the COVID situation, we’ll get back on with that. With what we have left, we’re always judging around the Christmas holiday, we’re working around finals exam weeks. I’d love to play all of those teams, but in a lot of years it’s just not feasible with the way our schedule is mapped out. We’ve played Chicago State a bunch. We’ve played UIC a couple times in my tenure, early on. Loyola, obviously is a great program, Porter is a great friend. I would love at some point to revisit that if that can happen. We’re playing SIU Edwardsville, another in-state opponent next week. I think it’s a good thing in theory, but for us it becomes really hard to schedule because of what is already put out there by our conference heading into the season.”

Robbie Beran:

On team leaders: “I definitely think it’s a a collective approach. I think everybody does a good job in practice sharing the wealth. Once we kinda have that and there’s not the one guy that everybody needs to key into, I think that makes us a pretty difficult matchup. Who are you going to scout? But, for example tonight, I think everybody shot pretty efficiently. Miller, tonight 4-for-5, 3-for-3 from three. Obviously, we relied on him heavy last year. This year, I think we have a more balanced load, and then whoever’s night is going, we’re making a collective effort to find them.”

On NU football: “Shoutout to the Big Ten West champs, I just found out. That’s huge for our football team.”

On offensive improvement from last season: “I think just making that one more. Coach talks about it a lot in practice. Giving up a good shot to get a great shot. I think that we have, from top dow, everybody can space the floor, everybody can shoot at a high clip. Like I said, I think that makes us pretty dangerous to scout against.”

Ty Berry

On shift at halftime: “The coaches and my teammates do a good job. If I miss a shot they keep telling me to jeep shooting, and they’re gonna find me. Just give credit to them for telling me to keep my head up and to keep shooting.”

On his role: “We have a lot of great guys and a lot of great players. I see myself as every time I come on the floor just bringing as much energy as I possibly can on the defensive end and the offensive end. Just to go as hard as I possibly can and get my teammates involved. Always try make the extra pass if I can because after one person gets a bucket and then another person gets a bucket it gets contagious and it’s really hard to guard after that.”

On fellow newcomer Chase Audige: “Chase is a great player, and he brings a lot of energy and a lot of different options to our table as well. We just try to do the best we can of coming in and playing hard and bringing energy and trying to get buckets for our team.”