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Chris Collins sets Northwestern basketball in motion

Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski (3) drives around Baylor's Pierre Jacks(55) during an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday Dec. 4 2012 Waco

Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski (3) drives around Baylor's Pierre Jackson (55) during an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, in Waco, Texas. Northwestern upset Baylor 74-70. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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Updated: December 2, 2013 12:55PM

When Chris Collins began working with Northwestern this spring, he stripped everything down. He didn’t install an offense and simply let his team play.

The coach inherited a group of players so regimented from Bill Carmody’s Princeton offense that he needed their games to redevelop.

Collins allowed players to freelance, which induced a more natural style of play.

“What Coach Collins did was kind of open it up and get us back to playing [with] traditional basketball principles,” senior Drew Crawford said. “So that’s kind of what we did over the summer in getting used to doing that.”

The Princeton offense is predicated on reading players’ movements and distributing the ball based on what the defense allows. For it to be effective, all five players on the floor need to succinctly be in tune with one another.

Conversely, the motion offense Collins wants to run aims to capitalize on the versatility and athleticism of players like Crawford. It should let players create more scoring opportunities off the dribble.

The motion offense also regularly requires players to use a bounce-pass entry into the post whereas with the Princeton offense, an overhead pass is commonly used.

Allowing the team to play pickup during the spring and summer helped the Wildcats shake off minor nuances.

“I wanted the guys to really just get out and play and see what kind of guys I was working with, what they could be good at,” Collins said. “And really we concentrated more initially on our defense. And I wanted them to kind of show what they could do offensively and freelance a little bit.”

The player who will likely be challenged most by Collins’ offensive philosophy is point guard Dave Sobolewski, who handled the ball for the majority of his time on the court under Carmody.

While Sobolewski will likely handle the ball in Northwestern’s half-court offense, Collins has emphasized the necessity to push the ball up the floor.

“One through four are interchangeable, which is good,” point Sobolewski said. “It allows me to get some catch-and-shoot shots.

“I’m just looking forward to being a player in this system and being able to contribute to this program.”


Twitter: @SethGruen

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