Curse O’ The ‘Cats & Obscure Chris Collins NU Tidbits

How’s your bracket doing? The Pac-12 has sent a message to the NCAA Tournament Committee after getting Rodney Dangerfield-ed in the field.  They also sent a message to me, as they represent two 12-seeds (Oregon, Cal) beating 5-seeds. Of course, I picked a 12-5 upset, but not the right one, which means I’m likely going 1-3, at best on 12-5s and therefore in the cellar of the LTP Tourney Challenge (114 of 141 right now).

But, this tourney is different.  You and I are looking at nearly every game through the Northwestern coaching filter.  The names of the LTP Tourney Challenge alone are indication of this point. “HireShaka” leads the pack (tied with “BesttoBill” among others) at this moment.  I’ll admit, the Cal-UNLV game had my mind wandering to the anticipated offensive explosion between our ‘Cats and Sonny Dykes Golden Bears in the season opener. However, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that nearly every name being mentioned as a possible candidate by the media and fans, seemingly lost. Throw in the fact the Wildcats, as in Kentucky Wildcats, lost in the opening round of the NIT, and every team we faced this year that played, won, and it was hard not to think the ‘Cats are a bit cursed.

The potential ‘Cat coaches provided some of the best drama of day one (so far).  I picked 11-seed Bucknell to upend 6-seed Butler as I somehow felt Bison head coach Dave Paulsen, a potential candidate, would get a nice boost by becoming the new Butler by beating the man we all dream about having, the architect of the real Butler. Bucknell put up quite a fight, but as you know Brad Stevens kept his star shining with a 68-56 win, and while he’s my dream candidate, all signs are pointing to Chris Collins as the frontrunner.If it makes your bracket feel better, I had Bucknell in the Sweet 16. Ugh.

Davidson provided the game of the day so far, leading for most of the game, including a 7-point lead with 1:33 to go and then we saw Bob McKillop’s team lose in the very last second after a furious Marquette comeback, 59-58.  McKillop is one of those fan-generated candidates for good reason. Davidson has been consistent as of late and intersects high academics with winning. 0-2 in NU coaching candidates, unless….

Lasalle won their play-in game and head coach (Dr.) John Giannini has had his name tossed around as a potential candidate.  SippinOnPurple had a great feature on Giannini, who has a Wildcat-friendly resume, mixing high academic success at Maine and Lasalle with “program best” monikers, yet, as the Sippin’ article points out, he’s had Carmody-like success, 20-win, program best NIT seasons…until now. If you want to erase the “curse”, count Giannini in and we’re 1-2.

If you flip the equation and focus on the teams that we played this year – Butler, Michigan State and Michigan – they went a perfect 3-0 on the day.  This is a huge stretch, but those teams winning pours salt in the wound if you’re trying to make a ‘Cats curse play. Throw in the untouchable Shaka Smart, who is rolling over Akron, the folks we’re rumored to be interested in are losing, and the coaches out of our reach and the teams we play are all winning.

Of course, the most newsworthy game of the day was 16-seed Southern giving 1-seed Gonzaga all they could handle. It prompted this Tweet…

Now, onward…

Tommy Amaker leads a 14-seed Harvard tonight against the “hot” 3-seed, New Mexico.  Amaker hasn’t been mentioned much by the media, and he is on my contact list to get firsthand confirmation on the urban legend of his Laettner/Hurley resumes being rejected by NU admission when he was on the verge of accepting the ‘Cats head coaching job in 1993.  More on that next week. Update: Obviously Harvard’s upset win over New Mexico moves his name in to brighter lights as the “first ever NCAA Tourney win for Harvard” line is being promoted over and over (as if that line of infamy holds a torch to ours).

Then there is Chris Collins. 2-seed Duke faces 15-seed Albany tomorrow and several media outlets have already confirmed that he is locked in as the first interview for the NU coaching search. Other media pundits are claiming he is the front runner for the job. There isn’t much for me to add on Collins at this point that hasn’t already been said, so I’m having to go in my back of tricks to bring out some intel that will connect Collins to Evanston. And now the coaching friends and family are starting to weigh in, like his father Doug, and Notre Dame head coach, Mike Brey, who recruited Collins to Duke:

“When you’re taking over a program and you want to rebuild or try and get it to places it’s never gone, you need great energy,” Brey said. “And he has that.” – Mike Brey to Comcast Sports Net Chicago

You already know that Collins grew up near Welsh-Ryan country and starred for Glenbrook North High School.  You may not know he had one of his best high school memories there. I remember as a freshman watching the IHSA Super Sectionals which included Glenbrook North.  If memory serves, Collins and GBN beat Stevenson High School at the buzzer ( I believe it was Northwestern’s Kyle Garman (he didn’t play collegiately)  in front of a gym that was as rowdy as the rowdiest night you can think of for a Northwestern game. My hunch is Collins’ memory of Welsh-Ryan is nothing short of stellar.

The Cliff Clavin factoid involving Collins and Northwestern is the fact he tore it up in Patten Gym one spring as an undergrad as the very same Kyle Garman brought him as a ringer on his Hoops-4-Hearts 3-on-3 basketball tournament. I don’t think they won it all (I could be wrong), but the fact a Duke undergrad hoops star was playing in a pick-up tourney at Northwestern is just kind of fun.

Sina Playing The Field

Former ‘Cats point guard, Jitim Young, tweeted that Sina won’t be coming to Northwestern.’s Nick Medline linked to a article that had Sina stating that Northwestern is still in consideration, but he’s open to all kinds of offers and they are pouring in at a rate that he can’t even name them all. It’s looking pretty cloudy on his chances of coming to Evanston.

LTP Purple Pledge!

Lauren Bradley added a season ticket to our LTP Purple Pledge, bringing us to 39 on the season. We’re seeking 200 NEW season tickets and with a home slate that includes Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Syracuse and others, the only way you’ll be able to attend every game is by getting a season ticket. Season ticket renewals are due by the end of the month, so be sure to bundle your friends and newcomers with your renewal. Call 888-Go-Purple and tell them LTP sent you, then email us about your good deed at .


  • Chasmo

    On paper, John Giannini of LaSalle appears a better pick than Collins because coming from LaSalle, he won’t think NU’s facilities are substandard. NU’s campus and facilities compared to LaSalle’s are marvelous.
    Giannini has experience winning at a non-basketball school (Maine) and at a basketball school without a fancy campus (LaSalle). He has also been a head coach. Collins lacks all three of those attributes.
    It is interesting when reading all the stories about all the coaches who are interested in NU job. It could all be hearsay. But if the reports are accurate, it seems the NU job is much more attractive than was thought by many NU fans who thought NU should keep Carmody because no one else would want the job.

    • Yes, but if Collins takes job he obviously thinks the facilities aren’t insurmountable.

      • Chasmo

        Sorry for not being clear in my meaning.
        Giannini has practice delivering a sales pitch to potential recruits that is tailored to account for his school’s less than top of the line facilities and campus — so that makes him a good fit as a NU recruiter where at least he’s have a better campus and school to sell..
        Collins has no track record of recruiting kids to a school whose facilities are not top of the line. [Yes, Cameron is a pit but the hoops facilities aside from the school’s famously funky area are swell.] Duke is just as good a school as NU and its campus is beautiful as well.
        Giannini has to be thinking recruiting kids to come to NU will be easier in some ways than it was at LaSalle. Collins knows it will be harder than it was at Duke and he has no other experience than at Duke.
        I hope my point is more clear this time around.

        • Alaskawildcat

          Your point about Giannini having experience as a head coach is well made. Have we really heard of a single kid who did not come to NU because of “facilities”? The challenge for any coach coming to NU when it comes to recruiting has to be academics plain and simple. A school like Duke can take a gamble on a kid whom they know won’t stay academically eligible because they can afford to see him leave after the first or second year to head for the pros. For such a school there will be someone else ready to fill the void. In recruiting at NU the coaches don’t have that luxury.