Chris Collins Talks Technical Foul, Desire To Stay At Northwestern, Historic Season

(CBS) Two days later, the sting had only worn off a smidgen.

The agony of Northwestern’s 79-73 loss to top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday was still fresh in the mind of Wildcats coach Chris Collins, but so too was his appreciation of what his team had done. For the first time in school history, Northwestern advanced to the NCAA Tournament — and it won its first-round game too before bowing out at 24-12.

“The finality of the NCAA Tournament to me is the most brutal part of it,” Collins said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score. “You get excited when you’re called on (Selection) Sunday, you’re in, you go out to the site, you win a game, you’re preparing like crazy. And then you lose a hard-fought game, and it’s just over like that. You don’t prepare for the finality of it, especially with a group you love so much.

“Emotional night on Saturday, realizing it was over. We had such a fun run. Being able to get home, get a little bit of sleep and kind of reflect on all the good that these guys did has put a smile on my face. It was a huge step forward for our program this year.”

Like any coach, Collins was also ruing what could’ve gone differently Saturday if not for a few sequences. In this case, it was extra personal for Collins too, because he picked up a costly technical foul late that many believed in part turned the game’s tide. Collins had a good reason to be upset, as Northwestern had cut its deficit to 63-58 with about five minutes left and was about ready to cut it to three when the officials missed a goaltending call on a Gonzaga player who put his hand through the bottom of the basket to block a shot.

Collins then blew up, getting hit with a technical for protesting while being several feet out on the court.

“It was just an initial reaction,” Collins said. “I wasn’t trying to get a technical. I just saw it clear as day.

“I just jumped up because I was startled. It was my initial emotional reaction. Of course, it was not a time to get a technical. I don’t agree with it being called, but those are the officials. You have to live. They’re high-rated officials, they’re some of the best guys in the country.”

The four-point swing made it 65-58 and help stabilize Gonzaga. Collins acknowledged “by the letter of the law, I probably did deserve” the technical foul.

“I got to get one of those zappers to kind of reel me in,” Collins joked.

Through it all, Collins has more than anything remained proud of what his Wildcats accomplished, and he’s already set his eyes on the future.

“It’s not the feel-good story anymore,” Collins said. “The first time, you’re kind of always the darlings. It’s the dream season. We certainly had that and did a lot of historical things. Now our challenge is to be consistent with our expectations. And that’s why I came to Northwestern, quite frankly.

“It was about building a program that was going to be relevant every year.”

And is Collins set on being at Northwestern for the long term? It sounds like it after the Spiegel and Parkins Show brought up the idea of a contract extension for him.

Collins and Northwestern agreed to a contract extension in May 2015 but didn’t divulge the length of it.

“I love Northwestern,” Collins said. “I have no plans on wanting to leave Northwestern.

“My plan is to be here. This is home for me. I grew up in the Chicago area. I love what we’re doing. I love the people I work for. Hopefully that’s something (an extension) that we can get done and keep me here for a long time.”

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