Nicki Collen Named to @FGCU_WBB Coaching Staff
Monday, June 30, 2014 | by Jamie Church (@jlchurch)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – FGCU women’s basketball head coach Karl Smesko announced Mondaythe addition of former Arkansas assistant, Nicki Collen to the coaching staff.  Collen will join the Eagles’ staff as an assistant coach, effective Thursday, July 3.

“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.

Smesko and the Green and Blue finished the 2013-14 season with a record of 26-8 after winning both the Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship and the A-Sun Championship tournament before falling to Oklahoma State in overtime of the NCAA Tournament First Round.  The regular season title was the team’s fourth straight and fifth overall.

Behind the tournament championship crown, the Eagles made their second NCAA Tournament appearance in just three years of Division I postseason eligibility and again brought the tournament’s no. 5 seed to overtime as the no. 12 seed.

The team finished ranked second in the country with 10.2 3-pointers made per game and ranked among the top two teams in the conference in 11 statistical categories including points per game, field goal percentage and scoring defense.

For more information on the FGCU women’s basketball team, stay tuned to and follow the official Twitter of FGCU women’s basketball at @FGCU_WBB.  Further information on the 2014 FGCU Girls Basketball Camp can be found by visiting