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April 24, 2014

Grassfield Hires Coaching Vet Collins

Grassfield High School was looking to make a 'splash' hire to lead its basketball program. On Tuesday, they announced the hiring of Tony Collins, a man with a winning background and a wealth of college coaching experience.

The 56-year-old Collins has coached at the collegiate level for 30 seasons, both Men's and Women's Basketball, with a track record of winning that goes back to his High School coaching days when he led LaPlata's Girls Basketball team to a 1987 Maryland State Championship. In Grassfield, he sees great potential.

"What I really like about it that drew me to it is that it's a young school, only about seven years old," Collins told VirginiaPreps.com. "I feel like I can really get over there and make an imprint in that program with the knowledge I know I'll be bringing to the table."

Prior to accepting the job at the Chesapeake school, Collins coached as an assistant just a couple of years ago at nearby Phoebus High School in Hampton. He also served as an assistant coach at The Apprentice School not long before.

A 1979 graduate of Virginia State University, Collins might be known best for his time at his alma mater, guiding the Division II program to 20 wins in 2007-08. That was their most victories in a season since 1991. Though his three-year term there didn't end on the greatest of terms, he made his mark by earning CIAA Coach of the Year honors in 2007.

Collins had a few stops before coaching at VSU. In fact, his longest stop was for 16 years at Austin Peay State University, spending 15 of them as an assistant for the Men's program, one with the Women's team. He was an assistant for Miami of Ohio's Women's Basketball for two seasons. His other stops were coaching Men's Basketball as an assistant at Friends University in Kansas and at Fayetteville State.

At Grassfield, Collins replaces Andy Schwerzler, who stepped down after seven seasons at the helm. In those seven years, the Grizzlies went 47-101 without any trips to the regional playoffs, something Collins would like to change.

"The thing I've been telling people is I'm going to treat it like it's a college program and coach the kids in that type of atmosphere, too. That'll be a benefit for the ones that are fortunate enough to go on to a higher level, and for the ones that aren't, that won't make a difference. I still want to coach like it's a college type of team and think that will help them in the long run," Collins commented.

"We want to teach the kids the fundamentals of the game. If they play hard, learn the fundamentals and learn the system that I want to put in, I think we'll be successful. How successful I can't say. I don't know about State Champs, but I think we'll have a successful program over there at Grassfield in the years to come."

Last season's Grassfield team was arguably their most competitive yet, posting a record of 10-14 overall and for the first time ever winning a postseason game when they beat Western Branch, 53-50 in the quarterfinals of the Monitor-Merrimac Conference 2 Tournament. Most of that nucleus returns.

"I don't really know my talent over there yet, but I want to play a system where we apply a lot of pressure on the defensive end and push the ball up the floor on the offensive end. That doesn't mean you're always going to score, but I want to push the ball up the floor, putting pressure on the opponent on the offensive end and the defensive end," Collins added.

"An up-tempo style is what we want to play. Regardless of my size, I still believe the game when it all gets down to it, no matter what level you play or coach at, is about playing inside-out. That's my philosophy and I don't care if I've got a 6-3 center."

Matthew Hatfield serves as State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail [email protected], and don't forget to listen to him every Saturday at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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