Nicki Collen joins hoops staff

FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas women’s basketball coach Tom Collen announced the hiring of Nicki Collen to complete the 2011-12 coaching staff for the Razorbacks.

Nicki Collen, Tom’s wife, joins the Razorbacks as an assistant coach filling the vacancy left when associate head coach Timothy Eatman took a similar position at Boston College to be closer to family.

"I’m really excited to have Nicki back on staff," Collen said. "She was one of my top assistants at both Colorado State and Louisville, but stepped away to make our family the top priority for the past six years. It was a tough decision for both of us, but it was the right one.

"Now is a great time for her to return to the game she has loved for so many years," Collen continued. "The twins are in first grade and our youngest, Logan, starts kindergarten this fall. Nicki really wants to be a part of taking this program back to the level of respect it once demanded and I’m excited to have her on the bench."

Nicki will focus on the continued development of Arkansas guards as well as assume the role of defensive coordinator for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas’ guard pool includes All-Southeastern Conference honorees seniors Lyndsay Harris and C’eira Ricketts among others.

"Nicki will contribute in many ways," Collen said. "First and foremost, she can continue the development of our young and talented guards and take their game to another level. She was a point guard in college and she has a great mind for the game. Nicki will also take on the role of defensive coordinator which she has done for me in past. I take great comfort in her knowing how I think and what I want, so we should be on the same page from the beginning."

Nicki was on the bench with Collen during his coaching stints at Louisville and Colorado State. At Louisville, she filled the roles of an assistant coach (April 2003-June 2004) and director of basketball operations (July 2004-Dec. 2005) coordinating team travel and scheduling, doing film breakdown, handling summer camps, recruiting and scouting. Her on-court coaching duties encompassed all elements of the game with a specialization in guard development for the Cardinals.

Nicki arrived at Louisville after one season as an assistant coach at Ball State. While at Ball State her main coaching responsibilities were working with the point guards and assisting in recruiting.

Prior to her coaching at Ball State, she served two seasons as an assistant at Colorado State where she handled recruiting, scouting, team travel, guard development and all aspects of on-court coaching. In her two seasons with the Rams she helped guide them to a 47-17 overall record and the 2002 Mountain West Conference Title.

While at Colorado State, Nicki was also the color analyst for women’s basketball during the 2000-01 season. She continued to work in television serving as a color analyst for numerous telecasts including Razorback women’s basketball and softball.

Before her tenure at Colorado State, Nicki played basketball professionally for one season with the BCM Alexandros Team in Greece. From 1993-95, the former Nicki Taggart, helped guide Purdue to two Big Ten Titles and a Final Four appearance in 1994.

Nicki transferred to Marquette for her final two seasons, guiding them to two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. While at Marquette, she earned all-conference honors and finished her senior season ranked third in the nation in assists. Upon graduation, she held the league record for career assists average with 7.0 per game. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Marquette, graduating with honors in 1997.

Nicki Collen rounds out the Razorback coaching staff which includes Greg Collins who is beginning his fifth season at Arkansas and newcomer Tari Cummings who was hired in June. Amber Shirey returns as the Director of Operations.