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posted: 3/29/2013 5:00 AM

Northwestern landed a winner in hiring Collins

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  • Duke associate head coach Chris Collins directs the team during practice for a regional semifinal game in the NCAA basketball tournament Thursday in Indianapolis. Duke plays Michigan State on Friday. On Tuesday, Collins was hired as the new head coach at Northwestern.

      Duke associate head coach Chris Collins directs the team during practice for a regional semifinal game in the NCAA basketball tournament Thursday in Indianapolis. Duke plays Michigan State on Friday. On Tuesday, Collins was hired as the new head coach at Northwestern.
    Associated Press

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Insider

The Northwestern Wildcats got their man, and everyone should be happy.

Will newly appointed head coach Chris Collins get the job done? I think so, but no one knows for certain.

The first step for the program was to usher out the old, and bring in a fresh guy who can recruit with the best of them. Collins will work hard to resurrect a team that has been at the bottom way too long.

Hopefully, defense will be the first order of business with the new regime. The Wildcats have to change the perception they are an automatic "W" for opposing teams coming to Evanston, and playing defense can give them a fighting chance to win almost any game.

It's a solid hire. While there are other guys who might have been good or have more head coach experience, Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips had to bring in Chris Collins. With Northwestern's desire to be Chicago's team, no one out there screams Chicago more than Collins. He is tough, competitive, a very good recruiter, and sitting next to one of the all-time coaching greats in Coach "K" all make me expect his team will be ready to play every game.

And it's nice to know that if he has a problem he can always dial up Coach K or his father.

Listen, I still believe to this day his dad, Doug Collins, got the short end of the stick when the Bulls let him go. To have Doug around Chicago again helping his son just makes me feel good.

There will be some huge bumps in the road, but the vision is to make the NCAA tournament within three years.

Their next goal must be to become the dominant college basketball team in the state, and then they will fulfill their third goal -- to pack the house every night.

I remember when DePaul in the late 1970s and early '80s was more popular than the Bulls, but DePaul's leadership somewhere along the line decided women's basketball and intramural sports was the ticket. That move created a huge void, so with some buzz, winning and a hopefully blossoming fan base, NU just might be the team to fill it.

I talked with a friend the other day who said it's a low-pressure job. Are you kidding me? All eyes will be on the Wildcats.

I don't believe failing is in Coach Collins' vocabulary, but he can't go it alone -- no one does.

Did Northwestern get the right man? I honestly don't know, but Chicago got a winner with this local kid.

It will take time, but I do know the sun finally came out over Evanston.

My prediction: the NCAA Tourney will be a reality! When? I wish I knew, but this is a start.

Program note:

Watch me on "Mancow" on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. Friday, Monday and Wednesday.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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