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Northwestern Media Days and Chicago Basketball Luncheon Notes

Chris Collins addressed the media on Monday and Friday. Here’s what he had to say.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Day Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO, IL— Coach Collins sat down with the media on Monday and Friday to discuss the upcoming season.

Northwestern Media Days

  • Rapolas Ivanauskas will have surgery on his shoulder next week. Coach didn’t specify the injury but said he is optimistic about Ivanauskas and his return. He’s hoping to get a medical redshirt.
  • “It’s good to have veterans around who have been with me since my first year”
  • “McIntosh will be the leader. He’s physically stronger. More vocal, more in control of things”
  • Collins appreciates Vic Law’s athleticism
  • Wildcard players- wasn’t expected for them to show up in the past because McIntosh, Demps and Olah were key.
  • named Vic Law, Gavin Skelly, Dererk Pardon, Scottie Lindsey and Aaron Falzon to take control, be constants not wildcards

Questions from the Media

On Vic Law and his game:

“He has a renewed sense of hunger because the game was taken away from him. Vic wasn’t able to play for five or six months... He’s healthy. Now it will be a test for how long it takes for the rust to wear off. He’s a big part of what we’re doing- jack of all trades player”

On Pardon’s impact:

“It’ s his time. Alex and joey, two senior big guys... fortunately Dererk did get experience last year...He got quality minutes throughout the whole conference season... He’s a different player than Alex Olah. I’m excited for Dererk. He’s a really determined kid. He’s a hard-working kid. He’s focused, He’s unique. He’s a little undersized with his wingspan, and his ability to run and his activity, I think he cause problems for a lot of other teams big guys.”

On athleticism this year:

  • Brown is a quick, fast guard. Barrett Benson can run the floor. Gavin Skelly may play center for small ball. Collins wants to push the tempo and create turnovers. He wants to pick up the pace of the game.
  • Benson and Brown will both be in the rotation. Brown can score. He is the all-time leading scorer in Seattle. 35 pts, Abiity to make plays. May play together at times with McIntosh, will be a good compliment him.
  • Isiah’s development will allow McIntosh to get more rest and Brown to run the team.
  • Barrett Benson will tag team with Dererk Pardon at the center position

On Vic Law/ Aaron Falzon and their minutes:

  • He will use the preseason to mix and match lineups.

On the starting lineup:

  • McIntosh and Pardon are set but other 3 are question marks for who will come up the bench.
  • May put Vic Law with Scottie Lindsey and Aaron Falzon.
  • Options for different combinations. Vic Law play the two spot sometimes with Aaron and Scottie.
  • Didn’t have that luxury last year- more creative with 5 on the floor.

On Bryant McIntosh and his development- how much better can he get?

  • He wants to be a better defender, more urgency on the floor, endurance and stamina to play better.
  • Needs to become more of a consistent scorer- will have to be a double figure scorer - ideally 15 a game and get to the foul line more because he’s great at shooting free throws
  • Team in general didn’t get to the line enough last year.

On B-Mac For The Dime Campaign:

  • Thought it was great, clever, marketing team was brains. Way to promote Bryant.
  • He gets undervalued in terms of his value. Match him up with most guards in the country.
  • He’s one of the best in the big and nationally. Works hard.
  • Coach Collins was the face of the program coming in- now that there are good players it should be about them.
  • Wants everyone to think think its Bryant’s team becuase it’s his time. Great job putting together. Lots of buzz at media day last week. All of those things can be helpful in the program.

On Fairness of McIntosh:

  • “I wouldn’t trade him for any guard in the conference. He can match up well. Set up to have 2 good years. With leadership he is ready. He’s taken a big step forward with leadership this year”

On Goals of Program:

  • “Goals haven’t changed... I want to create a program to be in the mix every season. If we wanted to do it the right way, have to attack recruiting and it would take a few years to turn the corner”
  • “Talent and depth have been better every year, product on the floor, wins increase every year.”
  • “ I love the culture, goal is the same. The goal is to have a program that is good every year. Still working towards that but we’re exited about what can happen this season and excited about what we’ve done.”

On others stepping up outside of Bryant McIntosh:

  • “College sports is about replacing someone every year. We get a small window. The group of guys -this there time now. They have to produce.”

On Dererk Pardon and balance:

  • “He had foul trouble last year. It was an issue. He will play heavy minutes, step away from cheap [fouls].”
  • He’s been great with Barrett. Last year he was always being talked to but now he’s got someone behind him.”
  • Center is the youngest position. “There will be growing pains but they form a two-headed monster. Dererk is more mobile, Benson is more traditional.”
  • “In college, you have to be old- Be old and experienced. We threw a lot of young kids in to the fire, started a freshman each of first three years. It may happen this year but not so sure. The guys have played a lot of basketball and learned how to win.”

Chicago College Basketball Luncheon

On the program so far:

“We want to have a program that is relevant year in and year out. The culture is in a good place. We have a great group of guys, we’re playing hard, our talent has gotten better each year and we have to continue to make those steps forward in order to be successful especially in a conference like the Big Ten.”

On having a nucleus and culture Coach Collins needs to be successful:

“There are very few programs that can achieve at a high level by having a lot of young players. You want to be old, you want to be experienced. You want to have guys that have been through the wars, been in the good times, the bad times... They understand what it’s all about. Fortunately for us, we have a veteran core that’s returning that’s played a lot as young players. They were thrown in to the fire right away and had to figure it out. Hopefully now we can reap the rewards of some of that process that we’ve gone through.”

On the most popular question he gets from fans:

“I’m sure a lot of people would guess, ‘Is this the year?’”

“Well since the Cubs are going to win the World Series, I think we’re on the right track.”

“We’re excited. And like I’ve said, the NCAA Tournament is a great goal for us. It’s an attainable goal for us.”

“It’s never been my final goal when I came to Northwestern. To me, it’s just a part of the process of where we want to get to eventually. We want to have eventually a championship level program and I don’t think there’s any reason why with the type of school we have, where we’re located, playing in the Big Ten, the academic prestigue; there’s no reason why we can’t have a program that’s relevant nationally year in and year out.”

“You gotta get invited to the dance to do something at the dance. I try not to put that pressure on the players, I don’t think that’s fair to them. They shouldn’t have to live with 70+ years of what has or hasn’t happened. This is their time. This is their team. I want them to play for each other. I want them to be excited about the journay and hungry and live in the moment they are now. If they do that, and we’re tough and together, that’s all I can ask for.”