Jim Phillips, Chris Collins

Northwestern plans to upgrade Welsh-Ryan Arena

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On Nov. 10, Northwestern head coach Chris Collins got the first win of his coaching career in a 72-55 win over Eastern Illinois behind 25 points and 11 rebounds from fifth-year senior Drew Crawford.

Collins is looking to take the Wildcats to uncharted territory: The NCAA tournament.

Northwestern, which is 1-1 on the season following a loss to Stanford, likely won’t make the tournament this season, but Collins could be the coach to lead the Wildcats to that feat. He’s got the coaching background from his father and Coach K, and quickly into his new job he was able to tap into Chicago when he landed a commitment from St. Rita High small forward Vic Law.

Collins’ tenure as head coach appears to be off to a good start, and in time he’ll have a revamped Welsh-Ryan Arena, as he continues to change the culture of the Northwestern basketball program. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported on Saturday that Northwestern’s home arena will get a new floor, video scoreboard and cushioned seats in the stands behind the benches the university hopes to have in place for next season.

Installing a new scoreboard also requires the creation of a production control room, costs that can go north of $2 million. But Northwestern can recoup some of that by selling ads.

The new court likely will have darker purple and a block N, rather than the N logo with a wildcat head.

The arena largely has been neglected since a $6.75 million renovation in 1984. Nearly 30 years later, detractors view Welsh-Ryan Arena as an oversized high school gym with the Big Ten’s worst fan experience.

The change in the arena is part of other plans to enhance the facilities of Northwestern athletics. For next season, Northwestern will at least look the part of a big-time basketball program with a new-look arena while Collins continues to to try and turn that perception into a reality.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.