All posts by marksinger2017

Will Chris Collins remain at Northwestern for the long haul?

By Mark Singer

Even if this season ends in Salt Lake City Thursday, Chris Collins has firmly cemented his legacy as the greatest basketball coach in Northwestern history. Now the question for Collins is, does he want to add to his legacy in Evanston or somewhere else?

Judging by his comments on Selection Sunday, Collins doesn’t seem poised to leave this team anytime soon.

“This is not the end game,” he said after the Wildcats secured the No. 8 seed in the West Sunday. “To me, this is the beginning of Northwestern basketball.”

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New principal leads renewed dedication toward Senn athletics

By Mark Singer

In the final practice before the end of his team’s season, Terrell Walsh pleaded with the players to leave everything on the court the following day. On March 1, the Senn Bulldogs boys basketball team was set to play in the school’s first regional semifinals in nine years.

Senn isn’t known for its athletic prowess. Nearly every banner hanging inside the school’s gym marks an accomplishment earned in the 20th century. But that could be changing soon. Second-year principal Mary Beck is determined to improve the school’s sports program.

“It’s something I’m dedicated to and I’ve been trying to build since I got there last year,” said Beck, a former high school basketball coach.

Senn is among the latest schools to recognize the benefits of investing in athletics. A 2012 study of more than 100,000 Kansas high school students showed that “athletes earned higher grades, graduated at a higher rate, dropped out of school less frequently, and scored higher on state assessments than did non-athletes.”

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Twitter reacts to Northwestern’s historic NCAA Tournament berth

By Mark Singer

The 78-year drought is finally over. Northwestern made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history Sunday, and Twitter users were fairly excited about it.

As if nearly eight decades of waiting wasn’t enough, the Wildcats had to sit idly as the CBS selection show crew went through the East, Midwest and South regions without calling Northwestern’s name.

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Unexpected coach Terrell Walsh leads Senn’s surprise season

By Mark Singer

Robert Spurlin didn’t have an answer to a simple question. In early October, with less than two months to go until the start of a new basketball season, prospective players at Senn High asked their athletic director who was going to coach them.

“All I could do was shake my head and tell them, ‘I’ll let you know soon,’” said Spurlin, now in his second year heading Senn’s athletics.

Spurlin’s first pick, an incoming teacher, fell through in August after the candidate failed the school’s background check. A second applicant, Ronnie Charrier, looked promising, but he would be in Australia for the first two weeks of the season to get married. Spurlin needed to look elsewhere.

He didn’t have to search too far though, as former Senn coach Terrell Walsh was willing to take over the team, despite a hectic schedule. Walsh’s official title now is “Technical Coordinator II.” Unofficially, he’s the go-to guy for teachers and administrators looking for someone to fill an opening quickly.

“He was my last choice only because of how busy he already is,” Spurlin said. “[Principal Mary] Beck pushed for him and thankfully he was happy to do it.”

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Northwestern’s dance with basketball history

By Mark Singer

Standing in the same arena of his final high school game some 25 years ago,  Chris Collins can’t help but smile when he considers the success of his current team. The rollicking atmosphere at Welsh-Ryan Arena these days, unthinkable until a few months ago, brings the Northwestern coach back to 1992 when he led Glenbrook North to its first-ever supersectional.

The former Illinois Mr. Basketball missed a potential game-winner in triple overtime of that game a quarter century ago, but he cherishes the memory of that electric feeling on the Wildcats’ homecourt.

Now, a quarter century later, Collins’ team has Welsh-Ryan filled regularly, this time with Northwestern fans looking to be a part of history as the team chases its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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Long wait, slow start: Senn falls short in return trip to playoffs

By Mark Singer

After eight years of anticipation for this moment, the boys’ basketball team’s first playoff game in nearly a decade, the Senn Bulldogs had to wait another 40 minutes. Marine Academy arrived at Senn at 5 p.m. for a 4:30 tip.

Ultimately, though, it was the home team that was slow to show up.

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Senn High students, administrators alike rely on Terrell Walsh

By Mark Singer

Terrell Walsh doesn’t blast a whistle or throw chairs around when he’s frustrated with his players at practice. He doesn’t need to. Walsh just slowly shuffles from the sideline to midcourt, never lifting his head but constantly shaking it, and the members of the Senn High varsity boys’ basketball team know they’ve messed up.

A string of blown layups? He’s on the move. A series of missed passes? Walsh is coming. Someone didn’t box out for a rebound? The first-year coach just might not say a word the rest of practice.

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The seven-seconds-or-less Senn Bulldogs

By Mark Singer

For the first hour and a half of every practice, the Senn boys’ basketball team focuses on one area: making layups. Early in the preseason, if someone missed a layup, all 45 players on the freshman, sophomore and varsity teams ran the length of the court and back three times.

The drills paid off last Wednesday night in Senn’s 56-40 victory at home over conference rival Steinmetz. The Bulldogs set the pace of the game at breakneck. Every miss by Steinmetz was a chance for a transition bucket. The Bulldogs shot just 31 percent from the field, but 11 of the team’s 16 field goals were layups.

“I want to score 80 to 100 points every night,” said Senn first-year coach Terrell Walsh. “In order to do that, we need to get out and go.”

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