Northwestern Coach Chris Collins reacts to defeating Indiana

Opening speech …

Collin: It’s always something special to play in this building. I always feel happy. This is one of the most iconic locations in all of college basketball in my opinion as someone who loved the game so much. So when you walk in and all that red and you see it’s full, man, your juices are flowing. I’m really proud of my team today. I felt the start of the game really set a good tone for us. I really liked our execution early in the game. We knew they would have a lot of energy from the game against Iowa the other night and we knew how important the start of the game would be, especially with the crowd. So our ability to get open shots, split the ball, I thought we went downhill and got some dunks and some open 3s and then had the lead there at the under-four timeout and we knew they were because of that a devil are of a team and they’re well trained, they won’t go down without a fight. I’m just glad they ran out of time. Hood-Schifino I mean the shots he took in the last three minutes and then Galloway obviously throws in a three-quarter shot and we were lucky that we had a point more than them and took our free throws. We haven’t had any turnovers at this stretch and just feel lucky to have walked away with a really big win away from home.

On Northwestern’s points from sales…

Collin: Although we gave up 83 today, our defense was our calling card. Our offense was the one that was a fight. Our defense carried us all year and today we needed all of the offense. I thought we did some good things in terms of revenue generation, but they’re very difficult to guard given what Trayce can do. He’s not a prototypical low-post player. He gets the ball out at the center post and drives it, so it’s really hard to know when to help. I thought our ability to get 25 points out of turnovers was a great value to the game because they weren’t able to get their defense set. We were able to attack in the transition phase and get some easy ones and you need to be able to find a way to do that on the street.

Road wins against Michigan State and Indiana…

Collin: We have a lot of heart. And it’s still early. Every game, we’ve played four now, and we’ve got 16 left, but to meet the schedule, we played those first four games to play Ohio State, Illinois and Michigan State and Indiana, two of them on the road , and coming out of that 3-1, that’s a really good stretch for our guys. We’re far from perfect. We have a lot of limitations but our guys are really struggling and they are really struggling. There is strength when you have a common group. Everyone knows their roles. We know our guards are the ones who are keys. They have the ball in their hands, they make good decisions and these other guys just fill their roles well. We get a good production, the Bench guys come in and help us. Matt Nicholson’s Making. I thought Ty Berry’s play today, a double-double with 11 rebounds, was great from the wing position. Just really proud. I just love going into those dressing rooms, you can tell when a team is really together and they put everything on the line and are super proud of our performance today.

To Boo Buie’s 26 points…

Collin: He was fantastic because Chase went down a bit, his back locked onto him early in the second half, it kind of pinched him. I thought, ‘Where is he? Where is he? We have to bring him back into play?’ But with Boo’s ability to pick and roll the rest of the game, I thought he made really good decisions about only having two turnovers and they were really trying to come after him. I thought he went downhill. He did some big floaters. We ran, had a really good result from a time-out once when we bled a little, a touchline out, he got to his right hand and made some big shots over Trayce, which isn’t easy, he’s such a great guy shot blocker. He was awesome. You come in here and you get 26 points on the go against such a talented team and then you add 19 and 8 from Chase with six steals these guards were certainly worth playing as big players today.

About the limitation of Indiana’s runs…

Collin: I felt like every time they started going on — they had mini-runs — but I never felt like we had that eight-minute drought that we had sometimes where we can’t find a bucket. I felt like even though they might have hit us on an eight-point run or a seven-point run, we found a way to get a layup, or we found a way to get the foul- line, or someone stepped forward and took a big throw when we needed it. That’s what you have to do in these venues. That’s what makes playing in the Big Ten so much fun. You know these crowds are going to show up and the students. In my opinion there is nothing better and you will be tested. We told our boys on communication it was noisy. Even after the game, there were a few times where Boo said to me, ‘Coach, I know you called a play, but I didn’t hear crap because it was so loud in there.’ As we also had older players I thought Robbie Beran played a great game for us today. With him as a senior, Boo is a senior, Chase is a senior, Ty Berry is a junior who has played a lot. You really lean on your veterans.

In defense of Northwestern…

Collin: We were quite active, defensively. If you look at our numbers, we haven’t given up over 80 points. I think Pitt was the only team that really did that to us earlier in the year. We’ve forced more sales this year, and part of that is Chase. He had six. He had half of those steals, so I think his activity becomes contagious. We find a way to be aggressive with our defense. We only have eight guys that we play so it’s really hard for us to push and get down and do the thing. But how can we be aggressive in the half court? And I think we did a good job. Our hand activity. We make some traps off the post which can lead to some turnovers and then having a defender as good as in the Audige conference, I think, certainly helps that number too.

To his team playing hard…

Collin: Our boys know we don’t stand a chance if we don’t – we come to every game and say we have to be the hardest-playing team on the floor. If we’re not, we won’t win. That doesn’t detract from the talent. We’ve got good players but in terms of depth, in terms of size, in terms of scoring opportunities, some of these teams that they’re trotting out with, we don’t have them, but we’ve got a lot of heart and we’ve got a lot of struggle and we are really together. We talk about these things – can we do these things at an elite level? And if we do that, hopefully you’ll put yourself in a position to win some games. Luckily for us we won some close games. We’ve taken a lot of criticism over the years for not being able to close. These guys deserve credit for being closed today. We are closed in the state of Michigan. We finished a few games this year which hopefully will carry some of the experience and maybe not so good performance of the past onto this year. It’s the leadership. It’s about the boys. Then you can have fun coaching a team when you can spend all your time as a coach taking care of game planning. I’m not worried about settings. I’m not worried about who’s worried about their roles. Everyone is in such a great place with it. Now all we can really say is, “What do we have to do to beat this opponent?” and that has made it a really fun team to coach so far.

If he cares if Northwestern ranks…

Collin: no Our boys have goals. They want to play meaningful games when it counts in late February and March. Is it a feather in the cap of the program? Absolutely. If someone says you’re a top 25 team and players like that, but that doesn’t matter. You guys follow this league. Everyone is in the top 25 for me. Every team that we’ve played against, we’ve played four games so far and all four of those teams are just really good teams and they just told me we’re going to play Rutgers next , so I’m really looking forward to that either. This league will be about that. We cannot be caught in rankings. It was a great week for us, a 2-0 week. We did business at home, we took to the streets and won. We need to go home, rest and prepare for next Wednesday.

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