As I wrote in the Sun-Times today, AD Jim Phillips was not only trying to find a replacement for Bill Carmody but a basketball version of Pat Fitzgerald, who is revered on campus.
Chris Collins said he can't wait to spend some time with Fitz, who attended Tuesday's presser at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
"I admire the way he has built that program," Collins said of Fitzgerald. "I can't wait to spend time with him and pick his brain about this school and this area and what it takes because he has shown that you can get it done at a high level. I look forward to learning from him and getting to know him and then using that to create my own identity. I just believe that's important, taking the knowledge you get from people who have been your mentors and putting your own spin on it."
Collins said he would build his system around his players once he better understands their strengths and weaknesses. Eventually, however, he wants a team that can score.
"I love being able to put it in the basket," he said. "At the end of the day, you have to be good in all areas but you have to be able to score the ball. Basketball is going to a stage now at all levels where it has become a skill game again. You have to combine that skill with physical and mental toughness and then put guys in position based on your best players to make it work.
"Ideally, I'd like to play a style where we get out and shoot the ball. I don't want guys to be afraid of making mistakes. I want them to play freely on the offensive end and let them show their talents on the court within the framework of the team."
There was some interesting reading between the lines when Collins was asked if he had talked to Phillips or school President Morty Schapiro about adjusting academic standards.
"I always been in situations were academics are important," Collins said. "That's not a drawback. You have to go out and find the guys who appeal to that kind of situation. The one thing I can say is, commitment from President Schapiro and Dr. Phillips to build a top-notch basketball program is there. They have a vision. It's not going to be an overnight fix but I believe those guys are commited to giving me what I need to make this a successful program."