Northwestern Media Day, First Impressions

20141016_mm_basktmediaday1067The wind is starting to pick up in the city of Chicago, the leaves are changing, and there can be only one explanation, it’s basketball season.

The Big Ten held media day, Thursday, for all the coaches and players to talk about their summers and what to look forward to during the upcoming season.

For many years all Northwestern had was to look forward to the upcoming season, even when they were in the midst of one. This year Northwestern stopped talking about the team they look to become and said what type of team they have.

“We’re really a family, we got these wrist bands right now, no body really has them, just the team,” senior center Alex Olah said on his 22 birthday (yeah, he does look a little happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time). “We’re a family right now and that’s the big aspect of our team, we’re actually brothers.”

The biggest lesson I learned while at media this year was how much Northwestern resembles their head coach Chris Collins.

I have been covering the team for just over a year and all of my talks with Collins have been calm, serious, and fun, but something there has always been was a quiet confidence. With Collins it was more of knowing he is a good coach and he truly believes he has the guys to beat anyone.

Talking to senior guard Tre Demps and Olah they seemed like a mirror image of Collins. They were both sitting there waiting for questions, not trying to get people to believe but to tell people what expect. Last year a lot of the talk was about building and trying to set a culture within the program, this year it was all about how much better the team was going to be.

“I’m very lucky (Olah and Demps) embrace me,” Collins said about his two senior captains. “Those guys welcome me from day one. It was very important for me from day one to gain relationships with them. I feel like they are my guys. I don’t view them as players from an other regime or an other coaching staff, you know, they are my guys and what they’ve done for me and how they busted their butts, how they have done everything I have asked to get this program on the right track, they will always be my guys.”

When a team is quietly confident, that is when you have to be worried about them. Last year, from the outside, Northwestern was looked at as a team with a ton of freshmen and they will just be at the bottom of the Big Ten. While they had a ten game losing streak, they had the talent to battle with anyone in the Big Ten. Great minds in the Big Ten like Thad Matta, Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan would talk about the job Collins was doing, knowing his teams time in the spotlight would becoming.

“I want to end the season in April,” Olah said. “That’s a team goal too.”