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Monday, March 14, 2011

Q and A with Brian "Penny" Collins, former starting point guard for the Belmont Bruins

As I continue you with my series on College basketball in honor of the tournament, I had the opportunity to ask a few quick questions for former Belmont starting point guard Brian “Penny” Collins. Collins is a former Whites Creek High School all-state performer and led Belmont to the NCAA tournament in the 05-06 season averaging 10.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. Collins and I played together at Whites Creek. He was always a fierce competitor and his basketball I.Q. was through the roof. He earned his nickname of “Penny” with his similar build to Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway but he also had the handling ability and floor awareness that put you in mind of Hardaway. He was always a tough cover for opponents.

He joined Tennessee State University as an assistant grad for in 2007. Collins also conducts the Brian “Penny” Collins Run-N-Gun Basketball Camp in Nashville which he also established in 2007. Collins professional experience includes stints overseas with Finlands’s Kouvot Bears and he was drafted in the 6th round by the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL. Collins still hold the mark for all-time steals and assists for Belmont’s division I era. He is now entering his second season as assistant coach for the Cumberland Bulldogs. Long story short this man knows basketball and especially Belmont Basketball.

With the Bruins enjoying so much success of late and making their run into the NCAA tournament, I figured this was the perfect time to gauge his outlook for this current edition of Belmont.

Q. What do you think of Belmont’s chances this year in the tournament?

A: I think this is the best possible bracket for them to play in. They will have problems against the more athletic teams in the field as in Kentucky and so forth but the way the bracket shapes up for them, it gives them a chance of advancing.

Q. Hypothetically speaking, do you think if Belmont advances as far as the sweet 16 that it would help as far as for the exposure of the program goes?

A. Definitely. I believe the run we made in 06 gave the program tons of exposure. I can remember watching ESPN and the commentator saying “Not Belmont downs or horses but the school of Belmont.” But now we are viewed as a legitimate basketball school. The exposure of the tournament makes the possibilities endless.

Q. How do you think the run your senior team made at Belmont affected the school?

A. I think it helped in a big way. It opened doors as far recruiting is concerned. Coach Byrd is now being able to land players such as Kerron Johnson out of Huntsville, AL who beat out DeMarcus Cousins for Mr. Basketball in that state. Look at Ian Clark and Mitch Hedgepeth, I believe the recruitment of all those good players are directly related to the success that we had in the tournament and the exposure that it brought the program.

Q. What are some the best aspects of Coach Rick Byrd

A. Well to me Coach Byrd is the best I’ve had the chance to play for. His preparation for opponents is the best I’ve ever seen. He goes out and gets players that fit his program and that’s why he able to continue his success. He is a very detailed and meticulous coach and again one the best I’ve ever been around.

If you like what you heard from Collins here, you can listen to more of his commentary on sports radio 560 AM WNSR radio on Fridays between 12:30-1:30 as he steps in talks college basketball.

Go Bruins!

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