As the Eurostar, a high-speed train connecting three of Europe’s most prominent cities – Brussels, London, and Paris – navigates its final stop before diving under the English Channel en route from Belgium to the city that witnessed Coach K capture a consecutive Olympic gold medal, sounds of game film and coach-speak are heard throughout carriage number five.
The sounds of game film are typical – squeaking sneakers, buzzers sounding and players chattering; however, the coach’s voice critiquing the footage is nothing short of impressive and engaging. Its tone…positive and, yet, persistent about finding ways to get better.
If you do not know Pat, you should introduce yourself. If you have any doubt about Northwestern’s eventual success under first year head coach, Chris Collins, you may want to hedge a different bet.
If Baldwin’s efforts coaching overseas are any indication of the coaching pedigree Collins has assembled than both Coach Collins and the Northwestern community will be very pleased.
Under the direction of Roy Blumenthal, Founder and President of the Global Sports Academy, Baldwin assembled a select team consisting of college players from around the country including Northwestern’s Sanjay Lumpkin, 6-foot-6 RS freshman, guard, and JerShon Cobb, 6-foot-5 RS junior, guard, along with Juwan Howard, Jr., 6-foot-6 RS sophomore, forward; who is also the son of former NBA player and current coach, Juwan Howard. Over the course of eight days, Baldwin’s team marked a 5-0 record against a number of professional teams throughout Belgium, Germany, and Holland.
I was in Europe directing a similar program and had a chance to chat briefly with Pat about his involvement with the Global Sports Academy, the experience, and his transition back to Northwestern.
How did you get involved and what were your expectations working with the Global Sports Academy?
For three years, Global Sports Academy President, Roy Blumenthal, and I have talked about an opportunity to work with his organization, and coach a team in Europe. I am very grateful to Roy and Coach Chris Collins for affording me the opportunity to represent GSA. My expectations were for the players on the trip to get better and use this experience as a springboard for their upcoming season with their respective teams.
Can you speak briefly about the team you assembled? How do you think the players are handling their experience thus far?
I feel very fortunate to have assembled a team of this caliber. First of all, they are great kids and they get along very well with each other. They all come from really good programs and are well coached. They play extremely well together and are all coachable kids. The kids are handling their experience here in a mature way. We impressed upon them to be professional in how they approach the games. This is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime for some, and we wanted them to embrace everything about the trip — it seems they are doing just that.
What is the single-biggest things these players will take away from a trip like this?
This is a great experience for all the kids who are on the trip. Besides playing in competitive games and getting valuable off-season experience, each player is getting the unique opportunity to forge new and interesting relationships with the coaches, players, and people they meet. Cell numbers are being exchanged and great memories made.
What were your personal expectations for this trip? Has it helped your coaching approach?
The only expectation that I had for these kids is that they play hard and represent their schools with class. It’s hard trying to blend players from different programs in a short amount time and have them play well, and play together. It has been easy to coach the guys because they are unselfish. Coaching this group will help me be a better assistant coach for Chris Collins. I gained an even better understanding of just how many things a head coach thinks about in that first chair. There are many moving parts to deal with as a head coach and I have definitely learned more about ways I can help Coach Collins win at Northwestern.
How has the transition to Northwestern been? What can people expect to see out of Coach Collins this season?
The transition to Northwestern and back to my alma mater has been great. Northwestern boasts about the academics, but it is really the “people” who make it such a great institution. Coach Collins brings a great basketball mind and a passion for the game that Northwestern is craving. Expect him to coach with a lot of energy and passion, and you will see his team take on his attitude throughout the season.