Collins will stay with Duke through NCAA tourney, then take over as head coach at Northwestern

lkeeley@newsobserver.comMarch 27, 2013 

After 13 years on the Duke bench, Chris Collins has accepted his first head coaching job from Northwestern, multiple Duke officials confirmed Wednesday morning.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the media before the news was official, but he talked in general about the type of head coach Collins would be for the Wildcats.

“Well they’re getting a great coach,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s been a great coach here. I’ve said that at press conferences so far in the NCAA tournament. I said it at the Olympics, I said it at the World Championships in Istanbul. My guys are terrific.

“And he’s been with me for a decade and he’s been terrific. Not good. He’s got a great basketball mind, a competitive personality, team guy – he’s a great guy. But he’s a great basketball guy, too. Anybody who would get one of my guys would be good.”

Collins graduated from Duke in 1996 and still ranks 11th all-time in career 3-point field goals (209) at the school. As a Duke coach, he works primarily with the backcourt players, and his pupils have included Jay Williams and J.J. Redick, both of whom were named national players of the year. Collins also was a part of Krzyzewski’s Olympic team staff, winning gold medals in Beijing and London.

Current Blue Devils heard the news of Collins’ new job Wednesday afternoon.

“My first question,” Mason Plumlee said with a smile, “was is it like the football coaches, who just bounce?”

The answer is no. Collins will remain at Duke for the rest of the NCAA tournament.

Collins, the son of Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins, grew up in the Chicago area, earning Illinois Mr. Basketball out of Glenbrook North High before playing at Duke from 1992-1996. He played professionally for a year in Finland (1997), and served as an assistant coach for the Detroit Shock of the WNBA (1998) and at Seton Hall under former Duke star Tommy Amaker (1999-2000). He joined the Duke staff in 2000, and the Blue Devils won the national championship in his first year.

Collins has been to three Final Fours as an assistant at Duke and a fourth as a player. His initial challenge at Northwestern will be to get the Wildcats into the NCAA tournament – a feat never achieved.

Collins is the second Duke alum to be named a head coach this week, with Bobby Hurley accepting the Buffalo job Tuesday. Should Collins want a former Duke player with knowledge of the Big Ten on his staff, he could pursue Ohio State video coordinator Greg Paulus, whom he coached from 2005-2009.

Nate James, a member of the staff for the past six years, will move from special assistant back to assistant head coach when Collins leaves.

Staff writer Andrew Carter contributed to this report.

Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley

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