Northwestern's rookie basketball coach has rebound on his mind

"I'm thinking basketball right now," he said. "On a side note, I got a little extra bounce in my step because tomorrow's our first day of practice. So I'm thinking offense-defense because my mind's spinning about getting my practice plan in for tomorrow."

Step 4: Delegate.

"There's a tendency of head coaches to micromanage every aspect," Collins said. It's "another thing that Coach K was a master of, and I think he grew into this role. When I played, he was a lot like that. He was a younger coach and full of energy and fire, and it pretty much was his show."

But as Krzyzewski aged, Collins said he gave his assistants increasing amounts of responsibility.

"I want my assistant coaches to feel like (the team is) theirs too," Collins said, later asking, "Why would I hire good people if I'm not going to use them and allow them to do their jobs?"

Step 5: Work on the brand.

"Because of last year and a lot of the losing, the brand had taken a hit," Collins said. "It was a little bit of a stale brand. For me, it's been my goal to try to create a little bit of a buzz."

He said he wants his players to "get all the glory" and "all the media stuff" — once they hit the court.

"Right now I'm the face of that because we haven't played any games," he said. "I haven't been a head coach before. So there is nothing to point to other than my vision, my goals, my beliefs and where I've come from, my background."

Step 6: Focus on the long-term.

He's not going to chase quarterly earnings. Collins said he wasn't going to "cut corners" and "grab kids who don't fit with what Northwestern is about," meaning kids who don't care about school.

"The project at Northwestern is not about just getting to the NCAA tournament," Collins said before acknowledging that the milestone was the "800-pound gorilla" because Northwestern has not achieved it. "I took on this job and this opportunity to build a program. And when you have a program, that's not just having one good team. A program is when you have a good team year in and year out and compete at the highest level."

Step 7: Exude confidence.

"We're going to get to the NCAA tournament. I don't know if that's this year, next year. But that's going to happen."

Melissa Harris can be reached at mmharris@tribune.com or 312-222-4582.

CHICAGO

More