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One-on-one with Nicki Collen | How the WNBA prepared her for college game

After five years in the WNBA, Nicki Collen is making a return. How does that time in the pros help her approach at Baylor?

WACO, Texas — During Nicki Collen's introductory press conference in early May, there was one point she made about how the WNBA has shaped her coaching philosophy.

The game is player-centric, she said.

"In the pros, the players are the pros," Collen said. "Diana Taurasi is the WNBA. A lot of people could not name half of the coaches in the WNBA, let alone two or three a lot of times."

Collen said that approach is something she's planning to carry over to her first stint as a head coach in women's college basketball.

"I think that idea of focusing on the players, having them be a central focus, you know, making sure that we're doing whatever we can in terms of helping them academically, helping them spiritually, helping them with mental health, prioritizing their holistic approach to who they are and how we can help them grow," Collen described.

Part of that is player recovery, which she also described as load management, a term which has garnered an unfair negative connotation in recent years at the professional level.

That said, Collen did clarify that the reason that term isn't used at the college level is there's almost no instances of four games in seven days in the college game.

"You might have a tournament when you play three games, back-to-back," Collen said. "But after that, the schedule usually evens out."

The Lady Bears' facility, though, gives Collen the opportunity she needs to help the players stay fresh and healthy throughout a 30-40-game season.

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