(CBS) Wednesday night will forever live in Northwestern basketball lore.
In what many are calling the greatest play in program history, the Wildcats beat the Michigan Wolverines, 67-65, when Dererk Pardon hit a layup at the buzzer off of a nearly full-court inbounds pass from Nathan Taphorn with 1.7 seconds left. Chaos ensued, with the students rushing the court and the Wildcats diving for a dogpile after improving to 21-9, 10-7 in the Big Ten.
It was a win that most pundits believe secured Northwestern’s first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament — and one that came after coach Chris Collins addressed the elephant in the room head on following a 2-5 stretch for the Wildcats.
“It was a big night for us,” Collins said in an interview Thursday morning on the Mully & Hanley Show on 670 The Score. “I think for a while I tried with our guys to take that focus off all that NCAA Tournament talk. And as tough as it was throughout the course of the season, we tried to stay with our focus being the next game and not thinking long term. After we lost a really tough game to Indiana on Saturday night, I came back and I thought it was kind of time to address it. So we did talk about it leading up to this game. We talked about the pressure. You know, these guys, it’s a different time. These guys live on their phones, they’re always on social media. They’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all that stuff. There’s no way to avoid the talk of what’s out there and the pressure these guys have been under the past few weeks, especially with us having some losses. People were talking, ‘Oh, maybe they’re typical Northwestern, they’re going to collapse’ — things of that nature.
“We addressed it. We talked about meeting the pressure head on. We talked about the importance of going out before that game and just laying it on the line for 40 minutes and finding a way. With the way that game had to end with that pass, that catch and that finish against a really good team just made it even that much more special.”
Listen to Collins’ full interview below.