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Interview with Tim Collins

23/09/2013 - 05:10

Hi Tim, nice meeting you at such short notice before the start of the new season.

Tim : Yes, it really is a little unexpected and certainly a new challenge to me. To think that I was still salmon fishing with my dad in Oregon a couple of weeks ago. Dad is 87 years old. But this coaching job it is something I am looking forward to; I made the decision after this past basketball season to retire from the University system of coaching after 38 years. I became a head coach in America when I was age 27.

So, what made you decide to come to Europe, maybe to Luxembourg in particular?

Tim : There are a number of reasons, the obvious challenge and novelty factor, the fact that I coached two T71 players at my last assignment at California Baptist, and then something to do with my early career in basketball, where after graduating from university, I played in France for a year. This was back in 1976, and the idea at the time was for me to stay on as player-coach in Noyon, but I was then offered a head-coaching opportunity at Judson College, Oregon near home and family. Dare I add that my son was nearly born French.

What got you into basketball in the first place?

Tim : Well, I was a player myself. I played since the age of ten and at high school I was selected as one of the top players in the Region and area. I later was selected for a try-out with the Portland Trail Blazers.

So you remained within the University Basketball circuit.

Tim : Basically, yes. I was a student at Warner Pacific, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in physical education back in 1976. I was a married man by then, I believe I was the only married player in the University team for four years or so. In 1994 I took a Master’s Degree in teacher education at Heritage University College of Education in Toppenish, WA.

This all adds up to …

Tim : A life in university basketball coaching. After that year in France, followed by Judson College, I moved on to Corban University still in Oregon, then down to Tennessee Temple University and up north to Columbia Basin College in the state of Washington, and finally down again to California Baptist University, all these teams playing at NCAA 2 level.

We are now talking, what, 2000 and …

Tim : Well last year, actually. This is when I was told by Peter Rajniak, one of the two players (together with Tom Schumacher) I coached at California Baptist, that Jan Enjebo was planning to move on and leave T71.

So, this was definitely short notice. Was there any opportunity for you to see or learn about the team?

Tim : Yes, I was told that the last play-off games of the 2013 season would be available via livestream. I saw the last two matches.

And your first impressions on seeing those games were conclusive?

Tim : In many ways, yes. Peter had told me that this would be a team to my liking, and what I saw was exactly what I appreciate in a team, namely team spirit, camaraderie and above all the absence of selfish behaviour. My compliments to Jan Enjebo for coaching the team in that spirit. I also learned that T71 has a solid base of long-time players, and that both coaches and American players stay with the club for quite long periods, three and more years are no exception, a good indicator as far as I am concerned.

Any concerns once you arrived here? I know it's early days.

Tim : Definitely, I still have to get to know the individualities and make do with the changes which occurred in the team only very recently. But I have already noticed potential in some of the boys. I'm not one to draw comparisons; every team has its own strong and weak spots, for me to address those. The starting five is pretty solid, we want to integrate the other players into that group. I'll have to see what the opposition is like to see where my players stand. Coaches don't play the game or score the points. I have seen good leadership in the team and I'll bank on that.

So, what would be the Tim Collins trademark?

Tim : Good defensive teams likely win often. There is a sound mix between both offense and defense and I certainly intend to introduce my very own sets. We will continue to play up-tempo and attempt to execute better in our half court offense. I like physical play, a competitive spirit and a sound aggressive attitude. My coaching is aggressive in both practice and in games, but it is essential for this team to avoid injury and too many fouls. The games will reflect the way we practice; too soft an approach leads to soft games. We will be competitive in every game we play.

Any first impressions on the club and the locals?

Tim : Linda and I are certainly thankful for the reception we have received from the T71 family of administrators and fans. So far, I haven't had to worry about where to go or dine. The players and officials have made me feel at home straight away and there's absolutely no language barrier. I'm really looking forward to the sporting and social contacts to be made here in Luxembourg.

Sounds promising! Well Coach, it's all the best from us and a great many thanks for the interview. Enjoy your time with us and the team.

Tim : My pleasure.