New head coach has a lot of work ahead
The women’s basketball program is no longer leaderless. On Monday, NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen named Jory Collins as the 11th women’s basketball coach.
Collins was the head basketball coach at Emporia State for eight years before joining the University of Kansas as an assistant last year.
Collins has a lot of work to do to turn the program around after multiple disappointing and uncompetitive years in a row. The dynasty in the early to mid ’90s seems like it was a century ago.
One of the biggest challenges facing Collins as he comes in is recruiting. Years in the Summit League basement have made recruiting even harder. Turning a program around is not easy. It takes time.
Right away, Collins might need to look locally. Only three players from North Dakota were on the roster last year, and one of them ended up transferring. This trend cannot continue. If recruits keep getting picked away from the school 80 miles north of here, the Bison will continue to go nowhere fast.
Another challenge facing Collins is to build a winning culture. It is not just about getting the best players — it is about getting the right ones. One or two good players can be enough to win games, but a team with continuity and an unselfish attitude can win conferences and more.
Collins has proven before he can do this. He has been there at the end of a season cutting down the nets. Back in 2010 when Collins was still an assistant at Emporia, he was the main recruiter for the team that went 30-5 and won the Division II national title. Just last year Collins helped secure the No. 2 class in the Big 12.
Experience matters when rebuilding a program, and Collins has it. He knows what it takes to win. What it boils down to now is does he have the patience to see his vision through?
The next few years might be some more tough ones, but Bison fans should not panic as long as visible progress can be seen. The program needs to learn how to walk again before it can run.
Even if the record remains relatively the same next year, competing in games with some of the Summit’s elite will be key. Taking South Dakota State to the wire on the road or stealing a game from South Dakota at home in front of a recruit can make all the difference.
NDSU fans should feel a bit of hope. The last decade has been rough. The hard times make it all the sweeter when the good times roll back around.
The adjustment Collins may need to make from head coaching at a D-II school to now D-I will be interesting to watch. Arenas are bigger, players are better and there are more people watching.
NDSU fans should feel excited. This is a fresh start. Collins offers the program hope for the future. There is nowhere to go but up.