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Chris Collins named Northwestern basketball’s new head coach

A report says Northwestern University has hired Duke associate head men's basketball coach Chris Collins (right) be head men's basketball

A report says Northwestern University has hired Duke associate head men's basketball coach Chris Collins (right) to be head men's basketball coach. | Getty Images

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Updated: March 28, 2013 8:37AM

Northwestern made it official late Wednesday night. Chris Collins has agreed to become the Wildcats new basketball coach.

The Duke associate head coach met Northwestern president Morty Schapiro on Wednesday night in the Chicago area, according to a source, before returning to Indianapolis late Wednesday night, where the Blue Devils will play Michigan State in a Midwest Regional semifinal game on Friday night. Not long after, Northwestern announced via Twitter that the former McDonald’s All-American from Glenbrook North had been hired. Yet another source said Collins is expected to sign a seven-year contract.

“I’m so grateful to President Schapiro, Chairman Osborn and Dr. Phillips for the opportunity to lead the men’s basketball program at one of the premier universities in the world, to compete in the Big Ten Conference, and to do so in my hometown,” Collins said on the Northwestern web site. “Northwestern University is a special place that strives for excellence in every regard, and our program will be no different. I can’t possibly thank Coach Krzyzewski and Duke University enough for preparing me for this day.”

Collins, 38, has never been a head coach but has been mentored by his father Doug, a former NBA player and the current 76ers coach, and Krzyzewski, who has coached Duke to four NCAA Titles and 11 Final Fours in 33 years.

Collins would be leaving one of the most successful programs in the nation for one of the least accomplished. Northwestern has not earned an NCAA Tournament bid in 75 years. Stringent entrance requirements, outdated facilities and a lack of tradition are among the reasons why 11 previous NU coaches had losing career records.

“First of all I think that’s a great, great fit for him,” Duke forward Mason Plumlee said Wednesday. “I’m not a coach myself, but knowing Coach Collins he knows that area well. He’s got all the players respect. Just being around him, I mean, after my first practice here, I was like ‘This guy knows what he’s doing and what he’s talking about.’ He has had the experience and had been around great coaches all his life. He’s going to fit into that mode very well.”

The injury-depleted Wildcats finished 13-19 last season after losing one key starter to an academic suspension before the season began and two others to season-ending injuries. Many thought the suspension and injuries would be viewed as out of Bill Carmody’s control and he would therefore be allowed to coach the final year of his contract, but Phillips announced the program needed a new direction at an emotional press conference on March 16.

Carmody compiled a 192-210 record, the second best in school history, in 13 seasons.

Critics of the hire site Collins’ lack of head coaching experience and the mostly mediocre results produced by other Krzyzewski assistants who became head coaches.

“They’ll get a great one,” Krzyzewski said when asked what kind of coach NU would be getting. “He has been a great coach here. I’ve said that at press conferences in the NCAA Tournament. I’ve said it at press conferences at the Olympics and at the World Championships in Istanbul. My guys are terrific. He’s been with me for over a decade and he has been terrific. Not good. He’s got a great basketball mind, competitive personality, a team guy, a great guy. But he’s a great basketball guy, too. Anybody who would get one of my guys would be getting something pretty special.”

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