UNCASVILLE, Conn. (April 6, 2016) – Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller has completed his staff, hiring Florida Gulf Coast University women’s assistant coach Nicki Collen.
“Nicki Collen is a huge addition to our staff and the Connecticut Sun,” said Miller of Collen, who joins fellow assistant coach Steve Smith on the Sun staff. “She is regarded as one of the best collegiate assistant coaches in the country. Nicki is joining us from the tremendously successful Florida Gulf Coast program and also has prior experience in the SEC and Big East conferences. She has great basketball IQ and has an outstanding reputation with developing guard play.”
Joining the staff of FGCU head coach Karl Smesko in July of 2014, Collen helped guide the Eagles to consecutive 30-win seasons. The 2015-16 team recently completed a 33-6 campaign with a trip to the WNIT Championship game, where it was edged by South Dakota on April 2nd. The 2014-15 Eagles were 31-3 with a 26-game winning streak and an undefeated record in the Atlantic Sun Conference. That team also made history with its first Division I national ranking and its first NCAA Tournament victory, a 75-67 win over 10th-seeded Oklahoma State.
“I have been incredibly blessed to spend the last two years at FGCU,” Collen said. “I have learned so much from Coach Smesko, who is nothing short of a basketball genius. I am very thankful for being a part of two of the most successful seasons in FGCU women’s basketball history, coaching great players and being a part of a staff and athletic department that truly became family. I look forward to following the program’s growth in the coming years.”
Collen is also looking forward to the opportunity to coach at the professional level.
“I have always been a fan of the WNBA, even trying out for Detroit Shock team back in 1998,” she said. “I am very fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to work for a guy who has always been both a mentor and friend in Curt Miller as well as for an organization that has such great fan support in the Connecticut Sun. It’s hard not to get excited about coaching the best female athletes in the world.”
Prior to FGCU, Collen enjoyed great success as an assistant coach at Arkansas, Louisville, Ball State and Colorado State. During her nine seasons as an assistant coach at the collegiate level, Collen helped teams reached three NCAA tournaments and five WNITs.
As a player at Purdue, Collen was a member of Big 10 championship teams that advanced to the Final Four in 1994 and the Elite Eight in 1995. Collen transferred to Marquette as a junior, competing in two more NCAA tournaments while also securing a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Connecticut opens the 2016 season at Chicago on May 14th and will play its home opener at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 21st at 7 p.m. against the Washington Mystics. Season tickets and mini plans are now on sale. For more information, visit connecticutsun.com or call 877-SUN-TIXX.