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Billy Donlon is the Right Fit for Northwestern

Northwestern gained an assistant coach in Billy Donlon after he was at Michigan for a year.

NCAA Basketball: Horizon League-Green Bay vs Wright State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS— On June 20th, Chris Collins and Northwestern received tough, but exciting news. Pat Baldwin, an assistant coach and Northwestern alum was moving on from his Alma mater to take his first head coaching job in the Horizon League with the Milwaukee Panthers.

Nearly a year ago, Northwestern was in the same place. Milwaukee had an open coaching job and Pat Baldwin got the call to see if he would be interested. Ultimately, LaVall Jordan would leave his job at the University of Michigan to take the job.

A year later and Milwaukee was in the same place again. LaVall Jordan was leaving Milwaukee to take the head coaching job at his Alma mater, Butler, after Chris Holtmann’s departure for the head coaching job at Ohio State.

This time, Pat Baldwin was linked with the job almost immediately. After another year of being an assistant coach under his belt, and playing an important role in Northwestern’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, his name was linked to the job again.

This time, Northwestern knew it was inevitable. After a historic career at Northwestern as a player and as a coach, it was time for Pat Baldwin to take his first head coaching job.

Any time an assistant coach receives the opportunity to become a head coach for the first time and it is the right fit for them, it is exciting. Chris Collins had the opportunity to help Pat Baldwin strengthen his coaching experience and continue to build his resume in order to become a head coach.

Northwestern basketball wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of Pat Baldwin. He played an important role in the development of the backcourt, including Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law.

After Pat Baldwin left, Chris Collins was left with a spot to fill. With the possibility of returning to March Madness in 2018, Collins needed to bring in another assistant with expertise in the backcourt.

Naturally, Collins decided to phone a friend.

Billy Donlon is a Chicagoland native. He was born in Northbrook, Illinois and attended Glenbrook North High School, where he played basketball under current assistant Coach Brian James. Donlon was a freshman when Chris Collins was a senior.

Donlon comes to Northwestern after spending a year at the University of Michigan, where he was an assistant under John Beilein. Prior to that, he was head coach at Wright State University, for six years, after being associate head coach for four. Although Donlon was let go at Wright State, he has shown strengths as a coach.

Donlon’s specialty is the backcourt, where he will work with the veteran backcourt of Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh as well as Isiah Brown, Jordan Ash, and newcomers Anthony Gaines and A.J. Turner.

One of Donlon’s strengths is his ability to coach defensively. In the 2016-2017 season, he helped Michigan to become one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten in the second half of the season. While Northwestern has improved significantly on the defensive end since Collins arrived in 2013, Donlon can improve their defense even more.

The weakest part of Bryant McIntosh’s game is his defense. Right now, he’s an average defender. With Donlon by his side coaching him, Donlon can take Bryant McIntosh’s game to the next level.

Pat Baldwin was an excellent assistant coach, and he’ll be a great head coach. But right now, it’s Donlon’s turn to make his impact on Northwestern’s program.