Second-year head coach of the Tennessee State men's basketball program, Brian "Penny" Collins has been named BOXTOROW's Coach of the Year, as announced by the outlet Monday afternoon.
Collins' who took the helm of the Tigers program in the spring of 2018, took Big Blue for a ride in his first season back in the Gentry Center after making stops as a head coach at Columbia State, then as an assistant at Cumberland (Tenn.), East Tennessee State and Illinois State, enjoying tournament berths and conference championship titles.
In year one, Collins led a team with just three newcomers through a season with tough matchups at Kentucky, Memphis and Vanderbilt. The team, at times down to just eight dressed players closed the season 9-21 with no postseason appearance - the first since 2014-15 - previous head coach Dana Ford's first year.
The tide turned over the summer as Collins refreshed his roster, his game plan and settled into his role with season one as a DI head coach complete. An increase in overall size, multiple high-major transfers and a lot of time spent bonding as a team over summer workouts and history lessons about HBCU, Tennessee State and Nashville basketball, visibly shifted the outlook of year two for Big Blue.
The Tigers kicked off the season with a momentous win in front of 5,000 fans at home over crosstown foe and NIT championship runner-up Lipscomb. TSU took its high-spirits on an 11-day road trip, finishing with a Continental Tire Las Vegas Tournament title.
Big Blue continued its prowess at home, garnering an 8-0 record in the Gentry Center, as well as surpassing its previous season's 9-wins at the beginning of conference play.
Riddled with injuries, as many teams are, TSU played games with just eight dressed athletes, but finished the regular season 17-14, 9-9, garnering the Tigers a fifth place seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. Collins led the team to its first postseason win since 2013 and its first CIT bid since 2016.
This marks the first Coach of the Year award for Collins at the DI level, but will certainly not be his last.