Nicki Collen was named to the FGCU women's basketball staff on July 3, 2014.
“Nicki is a great addition to our program,” said Smesko of his newest hire. “She is very bright. She is also enthusiastic and passionate about basketball.”
Collen began her coaching career at Colorado State and has since made contributions at Ball State, Louisville and Arkansas. The Marquette graduate most recently spent three years on the sidelines with the Razorbacks, helping the program to a record of 63-33 overall.
"I am thrilled with this opportunity to join the FGCU coaching staff,” said Collen. “I have followed Coach Smesko and the consistent success of his FGCU program over the years and am excited to learn from him. I have great passion for the game of basketball and leading young women. My goal is to help sustain that success both athletically and academically. My family and I can't wait to be a part of the FGCU and Southwest Florida Community."
While at Arkansas, Collen’s responsibilities included the scouting of all opponents, game preparation, guard development and defensive coordination. Collen’s work helped lead the Arkansas women’s basketball team to two post-season appearances and drastically increased the Razorback’s defensive efficiency. In her first season on the bench, the team improved from the 86th-ranked team defensively, to a top-10 showing in scoring defense. During the 2013-14 season, Arkansas ranked third in the nation, with just 54.1 points per game allowed.
The team also posted a top-10 mark in turnover margin at 6.13 per game and led the Southeastern Conference in assist to turnover ratio, turnover margin and turnovers per game.
Individually, Arkansas point guards ranked among the top producers in the SEC. She worked directly with a First Team All-Conference point guard as well as conference leaders in assists per game and assist to turnover ratio.
Prior to her arrival in Fayetteville, Ark., Collen spent two seasons on the sideline at Louisville. During her time with the team, the Cardinals produced a record of 42-19 with two postseason appearances. Collen also helped Colorado State and Ball State to post-season tournaments in the beginning of her career. During her eight-seasons of coaching, Collen-assisted teams have appeared in three NCAA tournaments and have played in the WNIT on four occasions.
In addition to her familiarity in the coaching ranks, Collen also holds experience as a color commentator for radio and television broadcasts.
As an athlete, Collen’s teams made four NCAA appearances. While at Purdue, she was a member of two Big Ten Championship programs, which made runs to the NCAA Final Four in 1994 and to the Elite Eight in 1995. She transferred to Marquette as a junior, where she finished her collegiate career and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduation, Collen [formerly Taggart] played one year of professional basketball in Greece. She led the BCM Alexandros in assists and steals and was second on the team in scoring.
Collen and her husband Tom, a former Arkansas women’s head coach, have three young children.