By MIKE PATTON / Nashville Voice
The Tennessee State Tigers basketball season is getting ready to kick off, opening Nov. 10 against Lipscomb University.
Last year, they were led by coach Dana Ford as the Tigers were trying to make some noise in the Ohio Valley Conference. This season, they are still trying to make some noise in the OVC, but they are led by a different voice this time around.
Ford has moved on to coach the Missouri State Bears and, in his place, has stepped in someone familiar with Tennessee State University basketball.
Brian “Penny” Collins was officially named the Head Coach of the TSU men’s basketball program on March 26. A proven winner as a coach and player with deep ties to the city of Nashville, Collins is the 18th head coach in program history.
“I grew up watching Carlos Rogers play basketball here. TSU was like
To Collins, though, coaching TSU basketball is much more than just about basketball: “I grew up in the TSU community. My mother and grandmother both went to TSU. I was always here growing up.”
Collins has inherited a team that finished last season with a 15-15 record, including a 10-8 record in the Ohio Valley Conference, which put them in a tie for fifth place in the OVC. He also received a team that has lost two of its best players, Delano Spencer (graduation) and Christian Mekowulu (graduate transfer to Texas A&M).
Even with those two losses, Collins still has high optimism for the Tennessee State Tigers.
“Our expectation is to win the OVC Conference and get to the NCAA Tournament,” Collins said.
The Tigers are picked to finish eight in the conference this season, but to that Penny has to say, “To be honest, that is the most overrated stat mentioned. It isn’t something we keep up with.”
Collins said he not only wants to lift up the basketball team, but he wants to create a long-lasting impression of his regime.
“I want us to above all be great young men. No one is going to put a conference championship on your resume. I want us to be remembered for being great young men first.”
So far so good for Collins, as he has infused some energy into the program that was not there before. He helped put together the first ever Big Blue Basketball event, introducing the city and the school to his team while having an event to try and bring the school into what the team is doing.
Penny is focused on the present and the future and the future looks bright with the energy he is bringing to the Tennessee State program this season. It should be fun to watch how his spirit permeates throughout the rest of his team, the university and the program.