Chris Collins

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Northwestern announces plans for Welsh-Ryan Arena renovations

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Six years after recommendations were made for the renovations of athletics department facilities on campus, Northwestern revealed the plans for a project that will modernize Welsh-Ryan Arena. The project is estimated to cost more than $110 million, with donors stepping forward to help with the money needed, and it will begin at the end of the 2016-17 basketball season.

Construction will force the men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams to find new homes for the 2017-18 season, with those locations yet to be determined by the school. However the improvements to Welsh-Ryan are much-needed, and when completed will provide the programs with facilities expected to help them compete in the Big Ten. The school hopes to have the work done by the fall of 2018.

Among the changes to be made are chair-back seating throughout the arena, new locker rooms for the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball programs, and new offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

No. 12 Michigan State makes 16 3s, beats Northwestern 76-45

Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine drives against Northeastern during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Boston Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Denzel Valentine made five of Michigan State’s season-high 16 3-pointers and the 12th-ranked Spartans clamped down on cold-shooting Northwestern for a 76-45 victory Thursday night.

Valentine finished with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Spartans (18-4, 5-4 Big Ten) beat the Wildcats for the seventh straight time. Matt McQuaid scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and freshman Deyonta Davis had eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.

Northwestern (15-7, 3-6) shot a season-low 20.7 percent from the field in its fourth consecutive loss. It finished with more free throws (17) than field goals (12).

Bryant McIntosh had 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting for the Wildcats, and Aaron Falzon finished with 11 points. Redshirt senior Tre Demps was 2 for 14 from the field, missing each of his seven 3-point attempts.

Valentine scored 14 points in the first half, and then focused on more of a distributing role as the Spartans pulled away in the second half.

Northwestern closed to 41-29 on Alex Olah’s two free throws with 16:44 left, but Michigan State responded with a 13-2 run. McQuaid had the final 11 points of the spurt, including three 3s – two of them coming off passes from Valentine.

It just got worse from there for the Wildcats, with little-used Matt Van Dyk giving the Spartans their biggest lead of the game with a fast-break dunk in the final seconds. Michigan State shot 51 percent (28 for 55) from the field, including its 16-for-26 night from long range.

TIP-INS

Michigan State: Valentine’s 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the second half moved him past Julius McCoy (1,377) for No. 23 on the school’s career scoring list. … The Spartans’ previous season high was 12 3-pointers in a 78-35 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Dec. 9.

Northwestern: The Wildcats have one game left in their first stretch of four straight against ranked opponents since the 1989-90 season. They take on No. 3 Iowa on Sunday. … Northwestern went 17 for 19 from the free-throw line, compared to 4 for 4 for the Michigan State.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: hosts Rutgers on Sunday.

Northwestern: visits No. 3 Iowa on Sunday.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

VIDEO: Northwestern’s four-part summer series

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Northwestern released a unique four-part look into its summer preparation for its trip overseas.

“The Foundation” follows head coach Chris Collins and the Wildcats as they were followed by cameras throughout the summer in a Hard Knocks-style format. The videos include footage of the start of summer practices, the team’s summer workouts, some off-the-court looks at the team and concluding with the team’s trip to Spain.

The four videos combined total a little over 22 minutes and it offers an up-close look at being a Big Ten player during a summer where an exhibition trip is included.

You can view all four videos here:

Three-star forward Rapolas Ivanauskas becomes Northwestern’s first 2016 commitment

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To this point in his tenure as head coach at Northwestern, Chris Collins has done a good job of recruiting local talent to Evanston. Saturday evening he and his staff reeled in its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2016, as 6-foot-8 forward Rapolas Ivanauskas has picked Northwestern.

Ivanauskas currently attends Barrington High School in Barrington, Illinois, where he averaged 18 points, 8.3 rebounds and two assists per game as a junior. For his efforts Ivanauskas was named second team All-Area by the Chicago Tribuneand he also held offers from Creighton, Iowa and Purdue.

“Rapolas Ivanauskas is significant pickup for Chris Collins and Northwestern because he’s a local top-100 prospected who has a significant amount of skill,” NBC Sports recruiting insider Scott Phillips said of Ivanauskas. “He’s shown an ability to score from the inside and outside, and he made major strides in his junior season.”

As stated above Ivanauskas is Northwestern’s first 2016 commitment, and of their three 2015 commitments two are front court players in Aaron Falzon and Derek Pardon with guard Jordan Ash being the other. Add that group to a solid corps of sophomores led by point guard Bryant McIntosh and wing Vic Law IV, and Northwestern doesn’t lack for young talent that’s either already on campus or on its way.

The hope in Evanston is that the young talent being gathered by Collins and his staff will ultimately yield the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament berth.

WATCH: Northwestern’s postgame celebration following win over Iowa

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After winning their conference opener at Rutgers December 30, Northwestern went through a streak of ten consecutive losses. While some were blowouts, including a stretch of three straight losses by 15 points or more entering Sunday’s game against Iowa, Chris Collins’s team lost four of those games by five points or less, one by seven and another by eight.

Those close calls are what made the end of regulation so difficult for Northwestern supporters, including Collins’ father Doug. The elder Collins couldn’t bear to watch down the stretch, as a Jarrod Uthoff three-pointer sent the game into overtime.

Video credit: Big Ten Network

Ultimately the Wildcats were able to close the game out in overtime, winning 66-61 with Bryant McIntosh scoring 18 points, fellow guard Tre Demps adding 16 and center Alex Olah tallying 11 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots.

And in the locker room, the Wildcats were sure to enjoy their first win of the calendar year.

CBT’s Recruiting Roundup: Northwestern and Virginia Tech add priority recruits

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Each Monday and Friday, College Basketball Talk’s Scott Phillips goes over some important news and notes in the world of college basketball recruiting. This week, Northwestern and Chris Collins land a priority recruit, Buzz Williams gets another key piece at Virginia Tech and Temple re-stocks with the 2015 class.

Northwestern lands a priority recruit

Chris Collins showed that he can get results after some big upsets in the Big Ten last season, but in order to break the school’s NCAA Tournament drought and compete in the league Collins also needs to land Big Ten-caliber players.

With the Monday commitment of 6-foot-7 stretch forward Aaron Falzon, Collins did just that. Falzon was a priority recruit for Northwestern’s staff this summer and after a strong 2014 recruiting class that featured mainly guards and wings, adding a front court player that can shoot like Falzon is a luxury for Collins.

Northwestern now has a three-man class in 2015 in Falzon, guard Jordan Ash and forward Derek Pardon. Adding Falzon will give Collins another floor spacer to go along with Bryant McIntosh, Scott Lindsey and Vic Law in the 2014 class to go along with athletic guards in Johnnie Vasser and Ash. The balance between the two classes and eight players Collins is bringing in in 2014 and 2015 is strong.

Collins has built two solid classes at Northwestern so far and if he’s able to show more of a turnaround on the floor in the 2014-15 season, the recruiting momentum could get the Wildcats involved with even more top-100 level players.

Buzz Williams gets another for Virginia Tech

Last week, Virginia Tech and Buzz Williams landed an impact forward in Kerry Blackshear and things were looking good for the new head coach. But after this weekend’s commitment of point guard Justin Robinson, Williams and his staff have to be ecstatic.

As the floor leader for Boo Williams this summer, Robinson helped lead the prominent EYBL program to a Final Four appearance in the Nike Peach Jam before another strong showing at the AAU Super Showcase in Louisville.

Simply put: Robinson makes plays for others and helps win games.

As a steady guard with the ball, Robinson gives Williams a coach on the floor in the near future and he’ll help make other players like 2014 recruit Ahmed Hill and Blackshear better.

Virginia Tech needed to add quality players to compete in a deep and talented ACC and Williams has added two quality prospects before coaching his first game at the school.

Temple re-stocks in the 2015 class

Temple faced a tough season last year. Finishing 9-22, Fran Dunphy’s squad faced injuries and a lack of depth in their first season in the AAC.

And with only one freshman entering the program in 2014 in Obi Enechionyia, the Owls needed to make a splash in the 2015 class to re-stock its roster with talent.

Levan Alston and Trey Lowe, two local guards and members of the Rivals 150 in the 2015 class, was a good start for Temple but the weekend commitment of Ernest Aflakpui gives the Owls a solid interior presence.

Three good prospects from the east coast in the fold should help stabilize Temple’s program a bit and give them some much-needed young blood in the future.