Heartbroken

RodneyWilliamsMinnesota_Northwestern030812

The ball sat on the rim tantalizing the faithful. It did not need to rotate, it just stopped. Sitting there in a frozen moment of time. A roll in and bedlam would ensure, the dream would continue. A roll out…

We know that feeling all too well.

And the pain this time seems extra painful.

Cobb’s floater hung tenuously on the front of the rim in regulation and fell no good, giving Minnesota the last chance in regulation. The Gophers missed that opportunity. But they would not miss the opportunity in overtime.

The clock may have finally struck midnight on Northwestern’s tournament dreams. And it was the evil Stepmother known as late-game execution and overtime that rang the bell, perhaps sending Northwestern down to its fourth straight NIT appearance. So close, yet so far.

The Wildcats went 1 for 5 on field goals in overtime and gave up 14 points to the Gophers. Northwestern had just one field goal in the final 4:46 of regulation. It was the typical wave of Northwestern. Great for moments. Horrible for others. Not good enough when it mattered most.

Minnesota advanced in the Big Ten Tournament with a 75-68 overtime win at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse on Thursday. A disappointing, but ultimately final way to end the quest for the NCAA Tournament (maybe… there IS still a chance, even if it is a delusional one).

Score Off. Rtg. eFG% O.Reb.% TO% FTR
Minnesota 75 111.3 55.6 40.6 17.4 9.7
Northwestern 68 98.2 44.7 15.2 10.8 29.8

The Wildcats tried to force the ball to John Shurna, but Minnesota draped him with physical defenders like Rodney Williams and the much bigger Elliot Eliason. Shurna found it tough to get free late in the game. And that brought on uncharacteristic turnovers. Dave Sobolewski had three, including one on an inbounds pass to JerShon Cobb that led to Andre Hollins’ game-tying lay up.

With Minnesota taking control in overtime, Northwestern still managed to turn the ball over and never grabbed its footing. The Wildcats had only eight turnovers, but each one seemed to hurt.

There just seemed too small a margin for error this time. Minnesota was playing with too much energy and too much pride from the beginning to lay down and allow Northwestern to get its chance to dance so easily.

The Gophers put on a 3-point shooting blitz early on. Andre Hollins had 16 of his 25 points in the first half and made five of his 10 3-point attempts. It also was clear Minnesota did not need Ralph Sampson III as freshman center Elliott Eliason got the opening call. He played with a ton of energy in grabbing six offensive rebounds and getting the opening call on John Shurna.

Yes, the Wildcats looked a bit tight early on. But it was an over-reliance on 3-point shooting that may have done Northwestern in when the offense went stagnant.

Northwestern was 11 for 26 from beyond the arc for the entire game. A lot of those makes and attempts came in the first half. It was something of a sign that the offense was stalling though as many were bailout shots from John Shurna (21 points, 5 for 8 from beyond the arc). There were moments of great offense, but most of it was physical defense from Minnesota bumping cutters and preventing much penetration into the paint.

The Wildcats opened the second half trying to get to the basket and struggled to do so. Eliason had a block early on. And Minnesota was very stout in the paint. There were multiple layup attempts blocked away or altered with the threat of a block.

That early stage set the tone for a slugfest of a second half. While Northwestern was able to get into the penalty early, the 3-pointers were not falling and the offense was not flowing.

The Wildcats gave up 13 offensive rebounds and 46.8 percent shooting. The made 17 of 21 free throws, but shot just 35.1 percent from the floor. NU needed all 11 3-pointers just to stay in the game in the first half.

They also needed the career effort from JerShon Cobb, who scored 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting, to stay in this one. Cobb looked exactly like the kind of player we envisioned him at the beginning of the season. He was a pest defensively at the top of the 1-3-1 when Northwestern made its initial comeback.

But you had to ask where was Drew Crawford? Crawford struggled with just eight points on 2-for-11 shooting.

The defense was also very inconsistent. The 1-3-1 was effective in the first half but gave up shots in the second half. Man was ineffective early and then ineffective late. Everything was inconsistent.

Northwestern just could not make the plays it needed on either end of the floor to pull away or keep the game within striking distance. At the end, you had no idea if or when Northwestern was going to score. And that is a problem.

And that is why Northwestern will not be going to the NCAA Tournament it appears. That is why they will be heading on a bus home to Evanston much earlier than they should.

  • TENman

    This was probably the most hurtful Northwestern team sports loss I can remember. I don’t think any of the bowl losses stung quite as badly as this one did. Maybe the 2008 Alamo Bowl. Maybe.

    It’s hard to be optimistic about this program. I don’t think we can immediately replace the talent we’re losing in our senior class this year. I see next year as another one of those dreaded “rebuilding years”, and fear it will be at least two years before we get another sniff at the tournament.

    I’ve never been sold on Carmody or the Princeton offense. To me, the Princeton offense is one that could be run effectively from time to time throughout the year when facing an opponent with more quickness and finesse. But the premise of running it is that you are concedeing that the opponent is stronger and more talented, and hence you have no chance of competing with him man to man in an open and fluid game. If your entire program is based on running this system, are you not already conceding that your talent and skill is always inferior? Is there therefore any doubt why Carmody’s teams never rise above mediocre in the league in which it plays?

    To be sanguine, this is the best shot we’ve ever had of winning the NIT. I believe the talent is there. We probably would have home-court for a number of the early games. We might play a little more loosely now that that do or die pressure is finally off. It would be a very minor consolation prize, but it’s one that I would take nevertheless.

    • Rich

      The reason NU won’t win the NIT is the same reason that they didn’t make the NCAA tournament, and that gets to the fallacy of having no “bad” losses (which some argued as a highlight of NU’s tournament resume!). Good teams don’t have a resume of six or seven games of losses by two or three points. They have a resume of winning them. They don’t have their stars consistently miss free throws in the clutch or inexplicably lose the ball out of bounds or get trapped in the lane turning it over.

  • Omar

    It was Sobo’s floater, im totally gutted. I dunno if we should fire Carmody because we have the pieces to make a run next year.

  • Gutpunch

    Sobo’s floater couldn’t just have gone in? Just once couldn’t we have a big pile up on the floor after a buzzer beater?

  • PastorCat

    People have been all over Carmody for his ‘gimick’ offence and lack of talent.

    When, in the history of Northwestern Basketball, have we had the talent to man up and physically take on the powerhouses of the Big 10? I sure can’t remember it…and you can’t either.

    And why do we lack that kind of top flight talent? Add together our pathetic facilities …our meager fan base …our academic standards and you’ll have your answer.

    It’s always easy to blame the coach…but this coach has brought us further than any coach in our history. Carmody has a system that allows us to compete game in and game out. Sure it has flaws…but we’ve seen the greater flaws that happen when we try to ‘man up.’

    Right now we have more talent than I can remember, and it’s nearly brought us to the promised land. There may still be a miracle and we’ll get in (hey, I’m a pastor, I’m allowed to believe in them!)

    Tonight we choked. The pressure finally caught up with us. I fully expect Carmody to be back next year…even though that will make many howl.

    • zeek

      I don’t have a problem with the main thrust of your argument, but that last line?

      The pressure seems to become overpowering against any good team in a close game.

      I get that we don’t have the raw athletic talent that some of these other schools have, but there have been so many losses to top notch teams when we really just needed 1 or 2 of those to be victories.

      One win against Michigan and Ohio State apiece and today’s loss gets wiped away. What about Purdue?

      It’s way too much of a trend with Carmody. And if the team can’ execute his offense at the end of games, he needs to draw up simpler plays. He drew up a few plays today at the end of the game and all of them totally broke down as soon as the ball was inbounded.

      • AdamDG

        So it’s Carmody that had Sobo bricking wide open 3s and playing awfully? Carmody made Cobb inexplicably trip over himself and turn the ball over with the game on the line?

        Our team choked tonight. Let’s get past it and move on.

        We’ve come a long way over the past few seasons and have turned into a respectable basketball team. The late turnover notwithstanding, Cobb played well. We have some good recruits coming in.

        The sky is not falling.

        • Make Some Noyes

          Stuart Mandel’s tweet sums it up perfectly:

          “A team that continually folds under pressure, that plays with no confidence late in close games, is a reflection of it coach.”

          • cdmarine

            Exactly. I remain on the fence about how much time is left on Carmody’s game clock, but I think it’s a huge copout to say Carmody wasn’t the one missing his shots. When you see patterns like this that repeat over and over, that’s usually coaching, IMO.

          • AdamDG

            That was a retarded thing to say, and I called him on it.

            Coaches aren’t responsible for close losses due to a lack of execution– they’re to blame for blowouts and poor planning.

            Our players clearly choked. Careless turnovers, missed open shots, lazy defense.

    • TENman

      Pastor Cat

      You make some good points and observations. Northwestern is not a destination basketball program, neither for players or coaches. And what Mr. Carmody has done is better than any of his predecessors.

      But what bothers me about the facilities and resources argument is there are schools, and numbers of them, with arguably fewer financial resources, fans, and selling points as a university as a whole that have achieved basketball sucecess. Some very recently, absent the tradition of a Syracuse, Villanova, etc.

      Look at some of the teams who are going to the tourney. St Mary’s, Wichita State, Creighton, Memphis, St Louis. I don’t think either of us could say that Northwestern is steamrolling any of those teams, yet they’re tournament bound how? NU is absolutely swimming in it financially compared to some of those programs.

      The academic standard argument is the only one that I might be able to buy, but even on that, I’m still skeptical. I’m not convinced that there’s that much of a shortage of athletes who can’t carry a 1000 on the college boards and a 3.2-3.3 high school GPA. Shouldn’t those be enough for admittance?

      • PastorCat

        The teams you mention all come from mid-major conferences. Put any of them in the Big 10 and they’re not going anywhere. Put us in a mid-major conference and we have well over 20 wins…and would have been in years ago.

    • long-term view

      UGH stop making excuses people!!! The academic standards explanation for why we aren’t successful on the court really bothers me. Our AD and athletic department should work with other peer institutions to understand best practices in both admissions and student-athlete assistance while in school. Academic standards should NOT be an excuse. They did peer reviews as part of the facilities review. Annual strategic review process should definitely include review of trends and what other like-minded institutions are doing to succeed.

      Standford, #5 US news, Undergrad Students 6,940, % admitted 7%, avg bball bball win % since 2000-2001: 66%

      Duke, #10 US news, Undergrad Students 6,664, % admitted 17%, avg bball bball win % since 2000-2001: 83%

      Northwestern, #12 US news, Undergrad Students 8,443, % admitted 23%, avg bball bball win % since 2000-2001: 48%

      Rice, #17 US news, Undergrad Students 3,529, % admitted 21%, avg bball bball win % since 2000-2001: 45%

      Vanderbilt, #17 US news, Undergrad Students 6,879, % admitted 18%, avg bball bball win % since 2000-2001: 62%

      Notre Dame, #19 US news, Undergrad Students 8,442, % admitted 29%, avg bball bball win % since 2000-2001: 66%

      Guess who needs to fire their coach and make some changes. Us and maybe Rice, although their coach hasn’t been hanging around for 12 years with nothing to show for it (fired previous coach in 2008 after ).

      And when you write your letter to Phillips, tell him to figure out what others are doing. This “holier than thou”, “we have academic standards” BS ain’t gonna cut it.

      • long-term view

        And btw, fans show up when there’s a product worth watching. You think if we had a top-40 program annually that we’d still have a “meager” fan base? I guarantee you there would be a marked improvement in the attendance and energy level at games.

        I’m an NU football season ticketholder, but I refuse to make the trek to Evanston to support this basketball coaching regime.

        It’s a whole hell of a lot easier to fill an 8k arena than a 45k football stadium on a weekend.

        That’s exactly why we need a new staff to inject some energy into the program.

        • Just go to the games

          Too bad you won’t “trek up” to watch the program. They are comparatively as good as the football program (in fact, they consistently finish in a higher percentile). And the atmosphere has been better and better then last four years. As good as I can ever remember.

          The facilities are a huge issue. The academic standards are an issue, but as others have noted – others have overcome.

          But Carmody has done well to build the program. I hope that he gets to be the one to lead the team to the tournament – he’s earned that right. There have been games I’d put on Carmody – tonight’s wasn’t one of them. Closest we’ve ever been – incredibly disappointing tonight, but I, for one, am glad to be playing games that matter … finally.

          • long-term view

            I’m not sure about the higher % argument. If that’s win % or Big Ten ranking or what … but I’m pretty sure Carmody’s best record in Big Ten play is 8-8 for a T-5th and he’s accomplished that once in 12 years. Fitz has had winning records in 2 of 6 years both of which tied for 4th in Big Ten I believe. His average finish is better than 7th, Carmody below 8th.

            The point was I refuse to support the basketball team with $ until something changes (coach and offensive system). Clearly I make the trek for football, because I believe in the program.

            And on the environment, I don’t need the atmosphere to justify attending. I want quality basketball and a coach with some passion on the sidelines. I’ll watch that in an empty arena. Fitz has it and the program, in my opinion, is headed in the right direction in my opinion, although I do believe he probably needs to upgrade his assistant coaching staff.

            Carmody hasn’t earned anything beyond what’s already been given to him (why anymore than 1-17 in 2008 I have no idea). He’s had 12 years and hasn’t accomplished anything of importance yet.

            O wait, we’ve been to the NIT a few times. Come on. You think when we hired him he said “My goal is to make the NIT” or “My goal is to make the NCAAs”? He’s failed. End of story. Time to move on.

          • Montana Cat

            I’m with you Long-Term View. I live in Montana, and there’s just enough chance of a breakthrough on the football field to entice me to make the long trip (1,400 miles) to Evanston now and then.

            Basketball? Well, last year the hoops Cats excited me enough in their NIT run to take a road trip. A great oldtime Wildcat (native Montanan MD who was in Evanston in the late ’40s and attended some classes with St. Otto) and I trekked to Pullman to see our matchup with Wazoo. We joined a small knot of fellow Purple People there and I even shook Jim Phillips’ hand.

            But you all know the result. Thrilling game, into OT … and the Cats couldn’t pulled it off.

            I don’t know what the solution is but this Cubbie-style, next-year mentality doesn’t cut it with me any more. How much misery can one endure for our righteous cause?

      • AdamDG

        Duke doesn’t have the same academic standards for its basketball players as Northwestern. In fact, they have pretty low standards.

        I have friends who went to school with Jon Scheyer and Carlos Boozer… they are not typical Duke students, to say the least.

        • long-term view

          Great data point. If Stanford is similar, there’s a pretty strong argument for doing the same thing at NU. As an alumnus, I have no problem with this if it’s a pretty standard operating procedure, including at other highly regarded academic institutions. Having good sports is part of the student experience.

      • the ranch lives!

        NU academic standards are higher. When Tommy Amaker was interviewed for the head coach job a few years ago, he brought a few high school transcripts with him and blacked out the names. He asked the academic advisor to tell him whether these students would be accepted into NU. He was told that no, they would not. The transcripts were for Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley. Where were they accepted? Duke. Some have said that this story is rumor. I have it on good authority that it is true.

  • TheThirdNUBrother

    I’ve been pretty bitter for the past two hours, trading texts with my fellow alumni brothers and cursing Carmody. Here’s my consolation though, and it just hit me: I didn’t really want this to be the team, to be the year that we finally made it. Of course I was ready to take it. I wanted it bad. But this wasn’t the way I realy wanted it. Sneaking in the back door with the whole world wishing us in and the haters saying we don’t deserve it, top 50, blah, blah. If it has to be “not this year,” I’m glad it wasn’t a season all that exceptional to bury. I can only say, what a black stain for John Shurna. He can hold his head up high -and the rest of the team that plays on must shoulder the guilt of knowing they didn’t win it for him, they didn’t win it for themselves.

    • byebyefitz95

      I am sure Shurna appreciates you didn’t want this team to make the ncaa tourney. In fact I am sure the whole team appreciates it. What is wrong with you? Do you want next years football team to win a bowl game?…or is that the team you don’t want to win a bowl game? Idiot.

      • knickelbein5

        LTP for goodness sake please ban this guy! His constant personal attacks on people is too much! Every commentator is a reflection on this blog and you work too hard to have someone like this ruin it. Enough with the personal attacks. Calling for Carmody’s death because they lost a basketball game? That should be an instant ban.

        • CM

          I second the motion.

        • Philip Rossman-Reich

          I am going to leave banning anyone up to LTP (it is still his site after all). I am sure that is a discussion we will have when he gets back. LTP, Brett and I are monitoring his comments and will take action when appropriate.

          • TypeO

            Need to say “byebye”

      • That purple

        I third this motion.

        Differing opinions cultivate insightful discussion. Untenable verbal tomfoolery does not.

        I’d also like to agree with TheThirdNUBrother. Carmody has performed well relative to the history of the program and he deserves our regards for that. But he does not stand a chance in taking the program further.

        This university stands at the precipice — at least athletics-wise between falling into dark depths of mediocrity or strategically investing into the heights of the added benefits of an elite athletics program.

      • ThirdNUBrother

        Please re-read my comments. “I wanted it bad.”

  • Al

    Cobb was very good tonight. High marks in my book. Shurna, on the other hand…

    I know he’s our all-time best scorer, but geez! You can’t even take a shot when the game’s on the line? Great players want the ball in their hands in crunch time. We don’t have anyone who fits that description. I’m sorry if I’m too harsh on the guys, but it’s the heartbreak speaking.

    As far as the NIT goes, I couldn’t care less.

    And please: Spare us the “Fire Carmody” crap. It ain’t gonna happen, nor should it. No other coach has done this well at NU. He didn’t miss a single layup, commit a single foul or turnover all year. I believe the players simply didn’t execute when they absolutely had to.

    • STLWildcat

      But it was Carmody who didn’t tell his kids to go for the 2 for 1 at the end of regulation. How many times has that happened this year? That’s simple basketball!

      I was prepared to go to Columbus, Omaha, heck even Dayton if the Cats made it to the NCAA tournament. I’m sure as heck not going to drive to Evanston (a shorter drive) for an NIT game. To me, that’s the difference between the NCAA and the NIT, and the difference between having a program people will continually rally behind and what we have now.

  • HudyBlitz

    I’m not a Carmody basher, but his job is to put his players in position to win and he didn’t do that tonight. There was no reason to call a timeout with a minute to go when up by 4 for a poorly-designed in-bounds play that led to a turnover that Minnesota converted.
    As for Shurna, Carmody should have been running the offense through him when Eliason had 4 fouls, but instead he put him in the high post and he rarely touched the ball in the last 5 mins. Again, this is poor coaching more than poor execution.
    BC has unquestionably done more for the program than any other NU coach in the last 40-plus years, but he was outcoached in the second half tonight in what will likely be remembered as the most important game of his career, and that’s a shame.

  • PMac

    I tired of people talking about this team and even our football team for that matter as overmatched. They aren’t. We have talent and more importantly heart and discipline. But, it never fails that all of the chatter before, during, and after games is how little northwestern is trying to match up with the other mighty big ten teams. It’s a bunch of crap. And the problem is, the players and even coaches at times (not so much fitz) talk the same way. Until that ends, nu basketball and football will never get that edge that it takes to be a winning program.

  • zeek

    Honestly, I’ve argued on Carmody’s behalf quite a bit before.

    This time though, just look at the record this year. Look at all the close game breakdowns against good teams. Those Michigan and Purdue games? That Ohio State game?

    Yes, we got some wins in places that we don’t typically win, but we needed just 3 quality wins this year and we only got 1 against Michigan State.

    Even today, we needed this win as badly as we’ve ever needed a win and the team couldn’t get a bucket at all at the end.

    And I hate repeating myself, but they broke our zone down completely in overtime. That second 3 pointer was a textbook offensive set against zone d; they kept passing until we overcommitted to one side of the court and then they had an open 3 pointer on the other side.

    Look, we’re going to lose close games to teams with more talent than we have.

    That didn’t happen tonight. We were getting to the line at will; we had almost 3x as many FTs attempted before overtime; how could we not draw up and execute plays to get us an open look from anywhere or get us to the FT line more. Then we just started turning over the ball and treating it like a hot potato.

    And I hate saying this because we actually had a talented team this year. This team had almost no bad losses. We took care of business against the bad teams. But when we needed a win in any of those close games against tournament bound teams, we couldn’t buy a bucket and/or a stop at the end of games.

    I’m not even going to get into our depth problems because those have been rehashed so many times, it’s grating to go over.

    Both of these things need to be fixed. I have no idea if Carmody is the right man to continue as head coach, but he had better fix both things if he is the head coach in the future.

  • zeek

    “I told our guys before the game – or sometime – that if we win tonight, it doesn’t mean you’re in; if you lose tonight, doesn’t mean you’re out. And that’s what I think. It’s a body of work.”

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/03/08/hoge-a-bubble-blasting-­­­­butchery-for-northwestern/

    I don’t mean to pile on, but what kind of motivational speech would include that? Why in the world would we play not to lose instead of playing like our backs were against the wall?

    Carmody has done a lot of great things for Northwestern basketball including take us from the everlasting dark ages and made us a more legitimate program.

    But that quote right there is a big problem with his philosophy. We had to play like this game was an elimination game, and that quote shows he may not get that.

    • cmdmarine

      Holy crap. If that’s what he really said to them going into the game, I just don’t think there’s any excuse for that. That’s what you say after a loss, not before a do-or-die game. That’s absolutely nuts. I really hope he’s mis-remembering or mis-reporting his own words.

      • Steve K

        Wow. I can’t believe that quote.

        And all the time I was envisioning a Herb Brooks’ type motivational speech… such as the one before the 1980 gold medal game (after they took down the mighty USSR).

        “You guys lose this game, you take it to your graves.”

        And Brooks walks toward the exit and then turns to face the players again…

        “To your graves!”

        • brooklyncat

          Soviet Union was not the gold medal game. That speech you reference was during an intermission of the gold medal game against (I think) Finland. Somewhere Scandinavian – they’re all the same to me. (JK)

          • Steve K

            Indeed, I said it was the gold medal game, after they took down the USSR.

  • zeek

    And of course, since we always become a central story, Pat Forde piles on with a central column on Yahoo: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/news?slug=pf-forde_northwestern_again_chokes_away_ncaa_bid_030812

    Avoid this one if you don’t want to read a harsh view on it. It could be worse though, at least we’ve become relevant enough for everyone in the media to comment on it…

    But honestly, if you’re Phillips or Shapiro, this is not necessarily all great publicity for the school. I mean these “losing” streaks in football and basketball have got to go. We don’t want to be the Cubs of college athletics forever.

    At some point, we want even just a tiny fraction of the success that we get in women’s lacrosse where KAH has created an absolute monster.

  • NUdone88

    Zeek, I love lax, but the total number of teams and the competition are much different to have success. Let’s not compare Lax to BBall and Football.

    The Big10 men’s bball conference is still very tough, especially the top 5 teams every year. If we place 5th or 6th in any given year, that could be our ceiling. Someone else said it, I didn’t want to sneak into the NCAA. Let’s really earn it with that magical kind of carpet ride season.

    I’ve been down on Carmody, but I want him back for one more year with our next frosh class.

    The facilities announcement is sure dragging??? What’s up with that. Was the administration really waiting for March Madness to go public with their plans. My gosh, don’t wait until June. You have a fan base that is waiting for some hope.

    As far as football goes, how long will it take for us bloggers to want some of our assistants karate chopped after an early September loss.

    Stay patient my friends.

    18-13 is mediocre. I really wanted 24 wins instead — I think the players didn’t make the shots. I’ve seen our purple t shirts: Make Shots.

    Nuff said.

    Oh, I’d take a trip to MSG and an NIT championship any day!

    • long-term view

      For the betterment of the program, let’s hope the facilities plan is lagging because the administration realizes they can’t raise money for a new basketball arena with Carmoday as the head coach. They had to wait until the season was over to fire him (save making the NCAA tournament), make a splash with an exciting hire, and launch the facilities campaign. That’s good marketing. You certainly don’t want to launch before a potential change.

  • Birdpfpreydavide

    Now is not the time to get on Carmody or the players. They just suffered a devasatating loss. Perhaps the most devastating in the program’s history. Let’s try to focus on the positive, at least for the time being.

    In modern history, this was the most successful Northwaestern basketball season ever. That’s something to be proud of.

    Good job, boys. Ootd job, Coach. Thanks.

  • NUNUNU

    To start – obviously a heartbreaking loss tonight.

    And maybe I am delusional, but with Washington, Oregon, South Florida, Mississippi State all losing along with Northwestern tonight, many of them losing to inferior teams than Minnesota – it feels like the ‘Cats should have a chance still. Add in Seton Hall losing from yesterday, and a couple of those teams from the list of recent losers (who have been right around us in the rankings up until today) are going to have to get picked for the NCAA’s unless teams with far inferior regular seasons that end up with a good conference tournament get picked (like an NC State, Dayton, or Arizona). Why not the cats??

  • swk

    From Mr. Palm: “Most bubble teams lost and lost badly, which did shake up the bottom of the bracket, but I still can’t seem to get Northwestern out of it. South Florida and Seton Hall have the Big East well represented in the play-in games. Washington dropped out again after another bad loss. The same is true for Mississippi State. N.C. State and Texas are in for now.”

  • Ron

    Really think that someone needs to explain to me why concourses and concessions at a basketball arena has anything to do with why we aren’t recruiting basketball players, because I guess I just don’t get it. I don’t see anything wrong with W-R Arena. It’s intimate and loud. Football practice facilities are crying for improvement. If there’s not enough room for basketball to practice, then build a practice facility on campus. But our problems with drawing fans are well documented and they have much to do with the market and the product, and very little to do with the arena.

    A new arena would be a colossal waste of money.

    • allpurple

      +1

  • http://theerrorofmyways.com/wordpress PilgrimCat

    Mostly hurting for our players, just now.

    New coach? Those who argue for that seem to think that all Jim Phillips has to do is snap his fingers and the Coach of Your Dreams will appear in a flash of purple light. Won’t work that way. Any coach coming in here will want to know at least two things – that he has a chance to win, and that the administration will not be erratic. Right now, firing the most successful coach in NU history (really. Yes, the history is pathetic, but that’s what Carmody is), after the three most successful seasons in that school history, looks erratic. The most self-confident coach in the world, with a well established personal recruiting pipeline, will know that a turnaround at NU is a 3 to 5 year project. The first two might be really ugly. So if, for the sake of argument, Carmody must go, it must at least appear to be his idea.

    Recruiting? Again, some naivety going on here. Really elite recruits – tall, strong, fast, basketball savvy, and smart enough to get in here – aren’t a dime a dozen. They can go anywhere, and the usually want to go where there’s at least a reasonable hope of NCAA exposure, and the chance at the NBA. They don’t need Northwestern. Most of them do not want to go somewhere to be the program savior – they want to fit in to a successful program.

    Which is just to say that moving NU from a mediocre to a consistently successful team is going to be difficult, as difficult as moving it from horrible to mediocre – which Carmody has done.

    Now, as to this year, Carmody managed to keep hope alive while playing with only six to eight players, depending. Last night Minny played 10 guys, while we played 7. Shurna played 45 minutes, Sobo and Crawford 42. You can blame Carmody for lack of depth, but not everything is his fault. His prize recruit tried to play through an injury rather than get preseason surgery and maybe play the second half, Cobb was hurt, Luka did something to his ankle, Marco had a concussion . . . and we were still 18 points from a 24 win regular season, 19 from being still alive in the B1G tournament. Even 5 minutes from Luka might have helped a little. That doesn’t mean Carmody should keep his job, or that things are better than they seem right now. Carmody probably isn’t as good a coach as we’d like him to be, but he’s a lot better than his detractors make him. He’s just not a glad hander.

    As to facilities, I always boil that down to the practical – there isn’t much land, and Evanston isn’t the most cooperative partner. Traffic flow is already poor and improvement will be difficult. A phased, several year upgrade of Ryan Field is probably do-able, and I think I know where the on-campus training and practice facility is going to go, but a new basketball arena is going to be hard to bring off. Look at the two construction projects just announced – the new Music School is getting shoe-horned into a tight space at the edge of the landfill, and the Admissions office will be similarly squeezed into a spot on the lake just across from Fisk. And the City gets $$millions in construction permit fees for these buildings, which adds quite a bit to the cost. I’ve thought it would be very neat to put a new arena in downtown Evanston and make it a joint project with the City – they could get revenue from concerts and so on – but I’ve heard not a whisper of rumor about that.

  • Ron

    And… don’t look now– But after spending a good part of the evening as one of the First Four Out, Lunardi is back to having us as the first of the Last Four In! Nail-biting weekend continues!

    • UVA Cat

      I saw the same thing. I’ll be cheering for UVA in today’s matchup against the Wolfpack, not only for UVA’s tourney positioning but also for NU’s sake since NC State is still a bubble team.

    • calmer than you are

      Either way, we won’t deserve it.

      • vedranv

        But who below us does that isn’t already in?? A ton of games broke our way last night.

    • AdamDG

      Where are you seeing this? His site (updated today) says we’re first four out.

      http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/52034/lunardis-late-night-bracketology-update-6

      • Ron

        You’re right, it changed yet again. I assume now we’re seeing results of today’s games coming in and having an impact? I’m not paying much attention during the day.

  • Angry Cat

    Consistently folding under pressure is a reflection on the coach:
    Lets look at 3 horrible decisions he made in this game alone
    1) 1 minute to go in 1st half, up 5, perfect 2 for 1 situation, not executed instead we get out scored 3-0 and only are up 2 at half
    2) Calling timeout with only 10 seconds left on the shot clock up 2 in the last minute or so and then failing to design a play easy enough get the ball inbounds
    3) Leaving 2 timeouts in the bag at the end of the game. We rebound the ball with about 3.5 seconds left. Immediate timeout and try and set up a better play then a running floater (inbound problems aside). You think Coach K doesn’t call timeout in that situation?
    4) Down 3 in OT. After the turnover. Immediate steal attempt then foul: instead half hearted steal attempt and no obvious foul leads to the clinching dunk. If you look in the background Carmody is sipping from a cup as this happens. I am guessing he just needed a brown paper bag because I hope he was drunk rather than this bad a coach.

    Graduating good kids and getting to the NIT is not acceptable. That should be the baseline. Administration is just happy there is no point-shaving scandals associated with the program and refuse to raise the bar.

    He must, must, must go. I am dreaming though.

  • Bear 44

    I am not sure what further evidence we need to try and find a new coach. I will give him credit for making the NU job a more attractive job for the next guy to come in, and for making it easier for the next guy to take the next step. But he has taken us as far as he can. The Princeton offense is a nice piece of an overall package, but it is clear that it is not good for end of clock type situations. Go watch the rest of the tournament and watch how many teams take their best options and run a pick and roll, pick and pop, or go straight up one on one. You think Cobb and Shurna or Crawford and Shurna playing a two man game might cause some problems? Do you switch the small defender onto Shurna at 6’9″? That might create a bit of a matchup problem. The Princeton offense is a flow offense that needs time to break down the defense, not break down one defender with under 10 seconds to go on the clock. We don’t and never have played good defense, he doesn’t teach it, and this is from an insider to the program, he just doesnt spend the time at practice good programs do. He actually said to a reporter, we do our best on the boards, but he doesn’t have drills to improve the rebounding. Really? No drills? I have drills for my 4th grade basketball team. How many times during crunch time after a TO have we struggled to inbound the ball. INBOUND the ball folks. AFTER a TO. And if that pregame speech is true, are you kidding me? Who could get fired up after that? They play tight b/c he is tight, period. You take on the personality of your coach, and he is tight. Mr. Carmody is a scheme guy, and he has a nice scheme on offense, but end of games come down to x’s and o’s, you go here, you sceen him, you go around said screen and either shoot or pass to screener, two man games win at end of games, and he can’t make the adjustment. NU is not a graveyard anymore. If the facilities rumor is true, then you can go get a highly regarded asst. or a winning mid major coach. They will not be as afraid. Can we loosen admissions too? Maybe a little, at least to Stanford’s and Duke’s levels. I don’t see their players in trouble or flunking out, and they win more than us. Twelve years is enough, it is time.

    • long-term view

      +1. I really question how many on this board were athletes at some point in high school or beyond and understand what it is to compete at a high level. Have some pride people — we shouldn’t settle for the current results.

  • NUmanager

    If Carmody survives for another year he should get down on his knees everyday and thank Reggie Hearn for saving his job. Imagine what this season would have looked like without the out-of-nowhere all-around play provided by a walk-on. Yesterday wasn’t his best day, but his unexpected emergence saved this season from being completely forgettable. Hearn, Cobb, Sobo, Crawford, Demps (and I think Abrahamson is going to score in bunches) means there is talent retuning. As for BC, Im concerned that we’ve reached a point of no return in terms of the vibe that has engulfed the program. We need to play to win, not not to lose. Bringing in some new blood while the cupboard isn’t bare sounds like the right move.

  • db

    Forde is spot on, no one cares. Including the President if he sits on his ass to watch this mess fester. It’s not that we haven’t made the tournament, we’ve never even had a reason to watch the show. That means we have not been a top 75 team in 12 years. The last few NIT bids were even gifts. Congrats on cracking the top 75 this year, for now.

    The department still wears the “6 B1G wins 70% of the time” like a badge of freaking honor. That’s a .333% winning percentage. That + people on this blog that use our historical futility as the success bar for Carmody is everything that is wrong with the program.

    It sucks for alumni, but it sucks even more for the kids. Remember that when crawford is playing the 4 or 5 next year, destroying his draft stock to compensate for Carmody’s ego.

    http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/news;_ylt=AkqVkBIoYAddi1bdpOYjrmQ5nYcB?slug=pf-forde_northwestern_again_chokes_away_ncaa_bid_030812

    • long-term view

      NAILED IT. Good post and spot-on article!

      I’m convinced several posters on here just don’t get it. The rest of us need to make ourselves heard to the administration. It’s embarrassing that we haven’t EVER figured out how to assemble a basketball program.

      And even if we make the NCAA tourney this year, we will have lucked into it. 1-10 against the RPI top-50. That’s not a tournament resume, I don’t care what the overall RPI says. People will cite the no-bad-losses BS, but this is not a program positioned to be perennially competitive (i.e. competing for something beyond 7/8th place in the Big Ten).

      • db

        I’ve been saying for 1.5yrs that a tourney birth and even a win or 2 is no reason to think this thing is fixed. It’s fun, but the program is still broken, irrespective of other teams in the country gagging.

        This program was ready to break through one time – when coble was coming back off injury – that team was going to be big and unguardable. Then Carmody fired a 2nd team all B1G underclassmen, and we are where we are.

    • Bear 44

      People who defend Carmody need to read Forde’s article over and over and over. And the top 75 in 12 years point is absolutley perfect and is all the evidence you need to say thank and goodbye to Mr. Carmody. I don’t see these posts as angry reactions to tough losses. These posts make sense. A change just makes sense. Or we can continue to be the fanbase that everybody sees, one that doesn’t really care about being a winner.

  • db

    I am hopeful the reason they held off on the facilities plan / funding drive is that they were hoping to launch it off an unexpectedly strong hoops season or a new coach. You cant sell a new arena on “we made the top 75. once.”

  • http://www.firebillcarmody.com ryan

    11 years with no results. Going from horrific to just pretty bad is his biggest accomplishment and there are apologists for Carmody? You people are delusional. If that’s the level of losing you’re willing to accept then perhaps you should go start rooting for a MAC also-ran, or some other crap school.

    Last night was by far a new level of NU losing. The fans deserve better than watching that asshole throwing another hissy fit on the sidelines after openly admitting he has no game plan against better teams.

  • TypeO

    No fan of BC here, but I think we have to keep him for one year. Drew is a senior, have real promising players in Cobb and Sobo (y’day notwithstanding), plus decent guards in RH, Alex and maybe Demps. That is if we can stay healthy. No sense in blowing up the program with the talent we have.

    I would lay it out thusly: it’s the NCAA or nothing. Now, it won’t happen, as despite a talented core with 5 quality guards, we have NO size and will get killed on the boards and on defense again. But those should be the rules.

    As an aside, it is a shame that Cobb was hurt for much of the year. Watching his late season play, it is hard for me to imagine that we don’t win at least 1-2 of the ILL, PU, UM losses.

    We are cursed.

  • Lu-O-Meter

    I give Carmody credit for developing Hearn into a consistent contributor, using the 1-3-1 effectively (most of the time), and putting in an offense that plays to our strength, which is 3-point shooting. But he consistently makes the strategic mistake of running 20 seconds off the clock on offensive possessions when we have the lead in close games, only to leave the team in a desperate situation with the shot clock winding down. This is not a team that creates its own shots. He should just run the regular offense at the end of the game. Also, Shurna (as great as he is) has never been particularly effective at the end of ballgames, and Crawford (as great as he is, too) cannot finish at the rim, particularly in crunch time. So our “go to” guys are not reliable at the end of games. Until we get power under the basket, we will not be a legit program.

    Obviously, we need a power player (make that two power players, or three). We will always have a tiny margin of error without power players, because the good opponents will get offensive rebounds — and therefore second chance points — and will prevent us from getting easy shots near the basket. When you have a tiny margin of error, you often look like a team that chokes.

    • My-Sobriquet-Cat

      I totally agree. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • wildcat6
    • http://LakeThePosts DT

      @wildcat 6-
      I assume you will be reporting on Carmody’s contract renewal with great anticipation?

  • NU68

    You guys are truly a bunch of hypocrites … howling for byebyefitz’s head. You’re the same group that called for me to step in front of a speeding bus, called me a moron, idiot, and a mother f**ker, etc. a couple of days a go for saying NU show go to the NIT and be competitive even if extended a NCAA \pity\ invitation.

    • http://LakeThePosts DT

      @NU 68-
      You are right on the mark with your comments… I’ve certainly taken my shots on this blog related to the football program et al, The Good Doctor Phillips, Athletic Marketing, and Rah Rah Shapiro…

      Net/net, if LTP allows the Kool Aid crowd a double standard- ain’t right or what this blog is about… I’d remind some of you out there, many don’t see this blog as a tool so to speak to sell tickets, spin the legend of Jim Phillips, or provide a brainwashing on how NU is dedicated to winning or providing super service of sorts to its fan base, both alumni and non alumni… The efforts of the athletic department, in particular the revenue producing sports being Football and Men’s Hoops is subject to critique… Just because some of you feel you are defending the honor of Ole’ NU does not give you the bully pulpit or get out of jail when you jump the rails in attacking the contrarian… Sometimes, the truth hurts… Passion runs both ways…

      • cece

        +1

      • NUmanager

        DT-
        Are you really defending the sociopathic rants of someone who just posted that he wants Carmody to curl up and die? Someone told you to curl up and die on this site?

        You can try to bend this blog to your will (or keep trying) but you are battling against it’s stated mission which is to generally spread the love in regards to NU athletics and put more butts in the seats at Ryan Field.
        It’s not hiding that from anyone. I think it’s in fact stated under the masthead.
        “Serving a daily dose of Wildcataganda since 2007″

        • http://LakeThePosts DT

          Manager-
          You always ask me good questions… No, I’m not defending sociopathic rants per se, but I do defend the right to say it and difference of opinion… If one is outraged about the person you reference, then one should have been outraged about the comments directed at NU68 the other night that were overtly aggressive and beyohd any sense of respect… I did not personally agree with NU68′s NCAA/NIT stance– but there was zero sense of outrage and self righteousness as he points out with him getting beat up and told to get hit by a bus and die or some such thing.. A double standard does exist on this blog… And yes, as recently as last month, I had a person pretty much offer up the same sentiment towards me… In fact, you might remember asking me if I was “livid” with the football program as was the 53% of the folks that answered the LTP poll on the same day… Remember that, eh? You certainly did not step up to be the voice of reason.. In fact, the only person that did, was Cece… I’d also say, I was on the recieving end of one of bybyefitz volleys at least once or twice during the last season… Is what it is…

          Finally, Manager- Wildcataganda can mean many things to many people… It sure as hell does not mean this is a ticket sales blog in terms of pure mission… That remains the domain of Mr. Polisky and The Good Doctor… Say hi to them and tell em as they say, “plenty of good seats remain”…

          • NUmanager

            DT- I don’t check this blog every day. But from what I can gather, it’s painfully cordial. I certainly repudiate any and all threats of physical violence at any time, as would most of us here (as if my repudiation means anything). It’s common sense. But offering two examples of threats as evidence for a double-standard doesn’t cut it.

            You’re lying to yourself if you don’t think that LTP main goal is get people excited about NU athletics. And as for tickets… I seem to remember the entire offseason last year was LTP trying to get people to ask their friends and neighbors to buy season tickets. This is a labor of love for him and PRR.. and I hope I’m not being presumptuous by saying they don’t labor so that DT can maintain an open complaint line to the administration.

            As for our disagreements, I’m not sure I get your point about me posting the “livid” question. Did I make a threat there? I was challenging you on the fact that several times you referenced a old poll that I felt tapped into people’s knee jerk reactions to a bad loss. I think it was a poll that should have been re-issued after people calmed down. Maybe you think 53% of Wildcat fans are currently livid at the stage of NU football in March 2012. I doubt it. If I offended your sensibilities, I apologize.

  • JimB98

    How about a poll on who you trust less with a late lead: Fitz or Carmody?

    Both seem to run their own version the “prevent” that just prevents us from winning close games. Both play not to lose, content to try to nurse narrow leads and hope they hold up. I have zero confidence in either team to pull it out if the opponent is within one possession and a minute on the clock. That’s a sad statement.

    • http://LakeThePosts DT

      I vote Fitzgerald… 3rd and 20-25 for the other team is almost an automatic first down in Q-4…

    • AdamDG

      What’s funny is, Fitz and BC have a lot in common. The biggest differences are that Fitz was a star player and is rah-rah, whereas BC is more subdued/sarcastic.

      BC’s last few years are comparable to Fitz’s last few. Win some games they shouldn’t, lose some they shouldn’t, can’t seem to win the big game, and overall decent yet disappointing. We knock BC’s overall record, but he walked into a program that was the absolute worse of any major-conference. Fitz didn’t have to deal with that. Now that we’re getting back to respectability we’re going to fire the guy? That’d be stupid.

      • zeek

        There is no question that Carmody has done more for NU hoops than Fitz has done for NU football to this point.

        We’ve been a legit top 100 program the past 4 years under Carmody. Under Fitz, we’ve been around the middle of college football with two above average years and a couple well below.

        The question is whether Carmody can get us to where we want to go.

        This program has to learn how to finish and we need depth. We can’t keep playing with 2-3 less roleplayers than every other team has; it’s just ridiculous the lack of depth this team has.

  • Watching and (mostly) Waiting

    A few thoughts:

    Clearly this team lacks toughness at both the beginning and end of games. The latter would seem more the players’ fault, the former more the coach’s. Why are we never ready to play?

    Thanks PRR for asking the question “Where was Drew Crawford?” I’ve been asking that for 3 years in big moments, and big games, and once again he showed his ability to turn immense talent into immense disappointment. No heart in this guy.

    While others line up at the polar extremes, I think the keep/fire Carmody question is incredibly tough. I vote to keep, because the program is far improved, and while close enough is not good enough, it’s hard to fire a coach who would have been a hero had 2-3 particular shots fallen in.

    That said, the can’t-win-the-close-one tag is the legacy for this year’s team. I worried the moment Juice graduated that we would lack heart.

    We lived and died with Shurna as our leader this year. When he stepped up (and he did step up sometimes–at Penn State, at Illinois big-time, others), we won down the stretch. When he didn’t, we didn’t, and he sure didn’t yesterday.

    I had forgotten this, but Sobo is still a freshman. Boy is he ever.

    While I don’t believe in jinxes or any higher order torture (not a Cub fan!), the Cobb shot hanging on the rim has to make you wonder. When that shot fell off, even though the game was tied, somehow I knew it was over.

    There isn’t a jinx–is there?

    • AdamDG

      Juice choked plenty of times — losing him is not the reason we lost yesterday. Do you not remember his ridiculous turnover in the closing seconds of the Ohio St. game his senior year?

  • db

    Per our tournament hopes, losing to us just turned into a bad loss for Seton Hall. So we have that going for us, which is nice.

    • My-Sobriquet-Cat

      Sadly, this is the best news I’ve heard all day.

  • ChuckyNeubs

    So, it may be over this year, but we can be positive — we’ve got the 27th ranked small forward in the country coming in next year, and also two other good players. This team is moving in the right direction, and over the last three years have actually gotten 3-4 nationally ranked recruits. Let’s not kill the momentum after we’ve had our most successsful season ever? That’s silly.
    Also, for some fun, Sobo crowdsurfing at DM, along with John Shurna dancing: http://www.nusports.com/allaccess/?media=307646

  • Fire Carmody

    For all of you fools who say let Carmody stay since we will have a stacked team next yr, all I have to say is that is exactly another reason to give him his walking papers. So often new coaches come in to programs that re stacked and WIN. That then sets those coaches up even more in recruiting. Carmody has been so calldd stacked in the past and where did he take the team.

  • paulj89

    Is there any chance we can land Shaka Smart next year?

    • http://LakeThePosts DT

      @paulj89
      Don’t say that… LTP is just getting over his Brad Stevens fantasy from last year…

  • MarkMedill88

    Yesterday’s loss was appalling. There was no reason to lose this game. Minnesota is a BAD basketball team, playing without one of its best players, and we play with the same galling tactics that have created end-of-game chokes time and again.

    First, on the players: For a team that runs the Princeton offense, we play it SOFT. None of our guys are any good at getting contact at the rim and finishing. How many and-1s did we have all year, especially late in games? No, our guys execute the cut, get open, get a touch foul and miss the layup, then miss one of two at the line. That’s how you lose games late. Although we we made our free throws yesterday, most of those fouls came at the defensive end of the court. None of our guys can finish, throw down the jam while getting hacked. We’re small, we’re soft. Finesse only gets you so far in the physical B1G.

    But the rest is all on Carmody:

    1. Bad clock management. Milking the clock may seem smart with a late lead and when your players are gassed. But when you are consistently re-cycling the offense at half-court with 8 on the clock, that’s not a plan. That’s panic. Happened time and again. Maybe if you had a point guard who could break the ankles of his opponent and drive the lane, that’s an okay strategy, but nobody is going to confuse Sobo with that guy. It takes 15-20 seconds for the Princeton offense to work its magic. If you have the ball at half-court with 8 on the clock, there’s one end-result: the desperation heave that clanks off the rim. That’s bad coaching.

    2. Abysmal late-game tactics. The failure to draw up a decent in-bounds play three times down the stretch is all on Carmody. Enough said.

    3. Failing to exploit other teams when they are down. We have an offense meant to put other teams in foul trouble. And when that happens, we should exploit it. And yet, with Eliason struggling with four fouls, Carmody doesn’t have Shurna get the ball in the low post? That’s a concession basket every time from a defender who doesn’t want to foul out, defending against our best skill player. And if help comes on D, Shurna can kick it out for an open three or another to cutter slashing to the basket. Instead, we continue the weave at the top of the key, and nothing happens. These are high-school-level basketball adjustments, and yet Carmody can’t make it happen. Which leads to…

    4. The insistence on running the Princeton offense full-time, and not changing up tactics to throw other teams off. If we hang our hat on recruiting only smart players, because we are NU, these smart players should be able to adapt and make changes mid-way through games, right? And in turn, those dumb jocks we spurn but who the state schools recruit should have water in their shoes from their confusion at trying to keep up with the myriad schemes NU is using. But no. Carmody uses a stale, predictable format that is relatively easy to defend if you teach your defenders to keep their heads on swivels.

    5. Carmody’s willingness to accept “good losses.” The idea that we should hold our heads high because we lost a bunch of close games to top 20 teams is infuriating. NU is a school that wouldn’t accept that in a classroom, so why on the basketball court? Would Kellogg keep its dean if suddenly all its graduates weren’t getting hired by Fortune 500 companies; losing in the final selection to candidates from Wharton, Fuqua and Tuck, but getting really nice, sympathetic rejection letters? Hell no.

    Long story long, this NU team should NOT get into the Dance. I don’t want a sympathy pass to the play-in game. I’ve never been one for a mercy f**k, and to have the committee give us one actually diminishes the accomplishments of other schools, and it demeans us. Throwing the ugly girl a corsage may feel like Disney, but it’s weak.

    Forde’s commentary is right on. It shouldn’t be this hard to build a good basketball team. Somehow we do it with football, and it takes a lot more good players to do that. Duke and Standford can do it, why can’t we? It ain’t facilities. It’s a coach and administration willing to accept mediocrity. Recruits can smell it a mile away. That tense, clenched visage Carmody wears late in games does not inspire confidence. It reeks of grim acceptance that we. just. aren’t. gonna. win.

    If we keep BC around, I vote for our billboard slogan next year: Northwestern Basketball: A Carmody of Errors.

    • brooklyncat

      “A Carmody of Errors.” – FTW folks!!!!

    • db

      1-3 are an indictment. Lost in the shuffle of all the program stuff is that our coach made tremendous game errors and gacked at the worst times. Sure the players did not execute, but how many times do you have to see the exact same story play out to understand that starting your offense with 8 on the clock will not work. And that absolutely was the strategy.

      This isnt a one year thing, he singlehandedly lost both Mich St games last year – making shurna on one leg have to rebound on the most important play, and running an inbound play for his worst FT shooter.

      It might be different if he had an odd roster but pulled stuff out regularly. But he chokes worse than his players.

  • cece

    listening to the firing of Weber, it is astounding how many times they made it to the NCAA tourney under him and yet, there he goes. live and learn.

    • http://LakeThePosts DT

      @C-
      Safe to say, both Weber and Zook would be well into multi-year contracts at NU…

    • wildcat6

      NCAA Tourney? How about National Runner-Up in the Deron Williams / Dee Brown / Luther Head era. Seems like a long time ago now, but really, 7 years isn’t that long.

      • db

        it is when those are a different coach’s players.

    • AdamDG

      Yes, Illinois is arguably the best program to never win an NCAA title. You can’t compare them to us, which was the worst major-conference program until we actually started making NITs 4 years ago. I know we all want to get to where other schools are, but these things take time. Be patient.

      Apples:Oranges

  • ChuckyNeubs

    I really do disagree with the whole Carmody being fired thing. You take a program that has gotten better and better, and after its best season you fire the coach? Look, Carmody may have made mistakes, but those are fixable through experience. What’s not fixable is things like Bruce Weber and the “culture failure” at Illinois. I’d rather have the former.
    2011-2012 RPI – #51
    2010-2011 RPI – #87
    2009-2010 RPI – #116
    2008-2009 RPI – #78 (with Kevin Coble, John Shurna and “Juice”)

    • Fire Carmody

      Why don’t u publish the stats for his whole time at nu. U really need to get a clue. He is a coach who doesn’t deserve to be in the big ten. He probably would just barely make the tourney as the coach or Mich st or Ohio state.

      • AdamDG

        Trends matter, and recent results outweigh old ones.

        Carmody came to the worst program in major-conference college basketball, and that program is now decent, and no longer a national laughingstock. We’re also getting better and have some legit recruits/facility improvements in the pipeline.

        The first several years were absolutely awful, but realistically not out of line with what any other NU coach (acclaimed or not) had done in their entire tenure. Now that our program has some progress and momentum we’re demanding “tourney-or-bust”? Why do you fail to recognize that he has done what no coach has been able to do at Northwestern?

        • db

          Here is a trend Adam DG – we don’t have a full basketball team. We had walk-ons as our 7th and 8th guys. Have you ever heard of that in major college basketball? Minor college basketball?

          We didn’t use our scholarships, and therefore threw half the B1G season. And that doesn’t include the fact that they had an extra to give to Hearn – which while nice and deserved, had played zero minutes ahead of being handed that scholarship. But we had an extra for him.

          Want another trend AdamDG? We have one guy 6’9″ or taller in the program next year. What happens when he turns his ankle?

          We use NIT as an honorable complement – and in some cases it is. But when you aren’t even on the NCAA bubble, it’s a gift. This is the FIRST year we are even a legit NIT team – a year when national writers are specifically writing articles saying how much we don’t deserve to go to the tournament. Even those that went to NU! That’s our best year, ever!

          Where do you think this is headed AdamDG? With Coach C and his band of 6’6″ and unders? What is the track record of programs with no size? What is that trend of getting to the tourney – and godforbid – being able to compete when we get there?

          I have been very supportive of our AD and the direction of the school and athletics. But keeping Carmody at this stage – irrespective of what happens Sunday – is a full embrace of mediocrity. And they very well might make that statement. Which sucks, irrespective of your RPI trend.

          • AdamDG

            First year we’re a legit NIT team? The other years don’t count?

            Look, no one wants to miss the NCAA tournament, but you have to look at where we came from. The absolute bottom of the well.

            No coach has been able to recruit at Northwestern, and Carmody has been the best at it. We also have some decent (and tall) recruits coming in the pipeline. Recent winning seasons have helped — facilities will go one step further.

          • CatFanSeattle

            This. A thousand times this. The long term composition of the roster in terms of size (# of players and height) is a JOKE! We get constantly hammered on the boards. We constantly run out of gas at the end of games. 12 years is ENOUGH!

        • ryan

          Trends?? His conference record has been flat over the past 4 years, after taking a nose dive after his first couple of years.

          The team hasn’t improved, the conference has gotten worse.

          He has been unable to capitalize on the most talented players in the history of the program, and couldn’t make it with the best player the school has ever seen.

          The NIT is clearly his ceiling at NU, and it’s time for a change.

          • AdamDG

            “His conference record has been flat over the past 4 years, after taking a nose dive after his first couple of years.

            The team hasn’t improved, the conference has gotten worse.”

            We’re talking about Carmody here… please stop bringing up Fitz.

          • http://LakeThePosts DT

            @Adam-
            Thanks for the best line on this blog… Priceless.

            The Fitzgerald inclusion here is real life as comedy… Two Thumbs UP!

  • http://www.crimsonquarry.com/ Devin S.

    Despite my Hoosier roots and loyalty, I have been rooting for the Wildcats to break this NCAA-less streak for what seems like decades.
    To semi-defend Carmody, nobody else has ever done this well for this long at Northwestern. And the Princeton offense is very, very good. The Wildcats, despite facing many of the toughest defensive sides in the entire nation, run a good offense year after year. If you look at John Gasaway’s per-possession analysis (Tuesday Truths), year after year the problem for NU is not the offense, which has recently ranged from the 2nd-best (2010), 6th best (2011) and finished 4th-best this year. The problem is the defense. The two problems I see with Carmody are recruiting (not entirely his fault, I understand NU’s standards makes it a bit harder) and developing his big men. I’m not sure what it is that makes anyone over 6-8 seemingly disappear their senior season, but it’s been fairly consistent, from Vince Scott to Luka Mirkovic.
    I do still hope the NCAA selection committee is either strangely pro-NU, but more realistically, I’ll be rooting for the Wildcats to win the NIT in the coming weeks.

    • Steve K

      Totally agree.

      It’s never really been the offense, although that’s a common whipping boy. It’s not a pretty offense to watch against tough defenses. They whip the ball around the perimeter and launch a contested 3. Yet, you’re right. Carmody is significantly better at coaching the offense than he is on defense. They absolutely suck at defense.

      And free throws.

  • 1970 grad

    No excuse to lose the Minnesota game and lots of others this year. Look at how Bo Ryan beats NU year in year out, and you’ll see exactly how good coaching and game preparation can make a difference that extends well beyond raw talent.

    It’s time for a new direction and that means a new coach and a new attitude. There is simply no excuse for this program to have NEVER appeared in an NCAA tournament game. That’s more embarrassing than all those football losses in a row. The way the tournament is set up now, everybody in D1 gets in sooner or later, everyone that is, except Northwestern.

    Can’t keep making excuses. Clean house and try again.

  • ChuckyNeubs

    Serious damage would be done to the program if we fired Bill Carmody. The best thing that’s happened to NU basketball is that he has stayed — this guy could get another job in college basketball pretty easily, and do well. He has had to contend year-in year-out with our horrendous tradition. And now, when we are finally making headway, after “investing” 10-12 years of time to build it to the point where we can consistently be competitive & make the NIT, we wash it all away?? That doesn’t make any sense.

    @db — you’re off by 1 — we have two 6’9″+ guys in the program next year, and three the year after.
    -Nikola Cerina
    -Alex Olah
    -Milos Kostic

    @ryan — the conference has not gotten worse — the Big 10 has the highest RPI of any conference by an incredible margin

    If you fire Bill Carmody, let’s just erase 12 years of progress — incremental, but still progress. It’s crazy talk.
    Throw away this recruit for sure:

    Kale Abrahmson (highest rated recruit ever): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_J3X4PxCFQ

    And maybe the big guy is gone too:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsYQli-aeyM

    What a terrible mistake it would be to fire him now, after his BEST season ever.

    • Bear 44

      Uummm, I am not really sure you should have posted that second video, it didn’t help your arguement.

      • ChuckyNeubs

        haha, i mean he’s a big man — some skills are there that I haven’t necessarily seen before!
        (but yes, I agree)

    • NUmanager

      You have some inside info that Abrahamson is coming to NU because of Bill Carmody? Maybe he’s coming to NU to get an education. I doubt we’d lose many kids if any if Carmody was fired.

      What we can’t seem to shake is the inability to get it done in crunch time. The players come and go. BC is the only constant variable.

  • ChuckyNeubs

    Great article on Coach K, who was on the hot seat in his first five years:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/11/mike-krzyzewskis-humble-beginnings-as-dukes-basketball-coach/248572/

    Here’s a good line from it:
    Going against the strong wave of fan and alum dissatisfaction against Krzyzewski—yes, this did happen—then-Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters stuck with Krzyzewski, believing the best could still be on the way.

    • MarkMedill88

      There’s a big difference between struggling for five years and being mediocre for 12 years. After five years, Shuhshevskee’s first recruiting class were becoming seniors…and he inherited a truly DOA program. Carmody now has seven recruiting classes under his belt, and he inherited a program that was slightly less than mediocre. Now he’s slightly better than mediocre. Remember Econ 101? Sunk costs? Time to fire BC and try something new. We’re never going to get better than we are now under Carmody.

      I say we rescue Paul Westhead from women’s basketball oblivion and do run-and-gun, 140-138 games. At least then it will be exciting. No recruit wants to come to NU if he’s going to play for an at-best 18-win school running an antiquated system that has no connection to pro ball. You put in a system that’s score-score-score and run the other teams to death, you’ll have recruits lining up 20 deep. Remember, when Loyola Marymount won all those games, they had no one taller than 6-foot-9. They had one big lane-filling machine, one rebounder, one skillful small forward, and a dead-eye spot-up three-point shooter. The rest were all hustle guys on defense. It wasn’t a one-off; Westhead did it at George Mason, too. NU can recruit smart kids to play that kind of ball. Then it’s just a matter of convincing these kids that they need to run 10 miles of sprints a day and stop smoking dope on the weekends. There is nothing cooler than watching another team start grabbing their shorts with seven minutes left in the game, knowing their tanks are empty, knowing that you are going to come back from 116-104 down to win it 128-122. Who wouldn’t pack Welsh-Ryan to watch that?

      • zeek

        Not really sure it’s as easy as just wanting to run and gun.

        Iowa’s been trying that, and it really doesn’t work that well.

        What happens if a team like Wisconsin forces you to play at their pace? Michigan State and Ohio State can do the exact same thing…

        • MarkMedill88

          That’s because Iowa isn’t using Westhead’s system. Even when teams tried to slow down LMU and GMU, they always, always got sucked into run-and-gun. We may not have the best athletes this year, but we would get them the next year.

      • AdamDG

        Yeah dude, it doesn’t work when you can’t have the best athletes in the conference. Going toe-to-toe with faster guys is just going to end up hurting you.

        For the last time, the Princeton O is not antiquated. A lot of teams use it with success, including Georgetown.

        • NUmanager

          Our offense was great this year. I actually give Carmody credit for finally maximizing this talent this year. Defense was never going to be a strong point for us if we played out five best guys.

          Go back and look at the box scores from 2004 (arguably a team as talented as this one). Our last nine games we broke the 60 point barrier twice. With Vukusic, Hachad, TJ Parker and Jitim.

          While I’m no Xs and Os expert… I do remember screaming at that team to shoot the ball and stop trying to milk the shot clock to zero every time down the floor (in the name of the “system”). This year they took the reigns off somewhat, and they were fun to watch outside of crunch time.

  • About the RPI

    About NU’s jump in RPI this year, my interpretation is that NU’s opponents just had a higher winning percentage this year, it says nothing of how they actually played against them. RPI doesn’t even include margin of victory. NU played bad teams last year, but they thrashed them, so they might have actually been a better team last year.

    I think it’s very interesting that Sagarin’s “pure predictor” rating — which takes margin of victory into account — rated last year’s team 47th in the country, and this year’s 60th.

    It’s kind of like how losing by 30+ to Ohio State isn’t a Bad Loss. It’s obviously a bad loss — they didn’t show up. The season that just ended was not a good season, if you really look at all the evidence out there instead of one particularly favorable measure.

    • long-term view

      Exactly … which is why we went 1-and a lot against the RPI top 50. Because this team isn’t as strong as its RPI might lead you to believe.

  • Nubobby95

    You all talk about packing welsh Ryan – apathetic student body turns into an apathetic alumni base. 3-400 students showed for a free road trip to Indy during reading week? That sucks. The fact we can’t fill half of WR or Ryan Field with students and alumni is pathetic. The only reason we have a sniff at better bowl games is b/c of Fitz and Phillips. Carmody dies not have the passion or energy to get this program to the next level.

    • zeek

      We have like the 10th or so smallest alumni base in Chicago in the Big Ten. Sorry, we’re not going to pack Ryan Field with just alumni and students. It is not possible.

  • MossReport

    We are a 1 Seed!!! At least on nitology.com.

    But now that I am 21 hours past having my next week ruined by the terrible finish to the Minnesota game, I am going to embrace the NIT. I hope the Cats can still make some history by winning the NIT or at least make it the Final Four in NYC. Shurna blowing through 2,000 pts and the returning players for next season regaining their confidence to finish strong.

    F* BC (but I still think we might be stuck with him). GO CATS!

  • farmer

    If those of you who want a new coach get your way, I predict in 2018 or so, you´ll want another new coach. And in 2024 still another. It will go on ad infinitum.

    Yes, that´s the way it´s going to be unless we cure the disease we´re afflicted with instead of blaming the coaches we hire who inevitably fail because of the affliction.

    The 70 year or so disease?: (1) Inadequate facilities and (2) a lack of a creative program to assuage prospective players´intimidation of NU´s academics.

  • Aatrain2

    First and foremost lets all raise our expectations! A couple points to To consider.. 1. Please stop saying that we can’t get good talent at NU because of academics. Because its not true, if you pass through the clearinghouse you can get in NU. News flash everyone playing college basketball more than likely passes through the clearinghouse. It’s as if people are saying good athletes don’t have good grades in HS. 2. Northwestern has no excuse for not getting good players. The Chicago area quite honestly is the most fertile recruiting ground in the country. Bill carmody should never have to leave his own state, and quite honestly doesn’t have to use a full tank of gas to get quality players. There is no excuse why he as a coach should not be on a recruits couch everynight enjoying mom’s home cooking, and you know he isn’t… just look at how skinny he is. 3. Stop saying facilities are a problem! Bottom line, kids don’t care about facilities as much as everyone thinks if that were the case Nebraska would be the best basketball team in the country, and last time I checked dukes gym was about the size of a HS gym. 4. “best coach we ever had” please!! And we will continue to be the only team in the country to not make the tourney. Everyone can make the argument that Northwestern not having good sports is not a priority and it’s not important well if that is the overall sentiment then we shouldn’t have sports at Northwestern. If you have a team it’s your responsibility to compete and represent your school with pride.. Our basketball team is pathetic and I’m not talking about the players out there doing their best, its the coach who recruited them and even more the lack of quality recruiting that has put them in position to fail annually. Carmody may get the most out of his players but there is saying..” You can’t polish a turd” and “you can’t get blood out of turnip”.

  • Country boy

    Teams take on their coaches personality. Why is Wisconsin mentally and physically tough, and why do them improve front the season start to finish? Bo Ryan. Bill Carmody is the anti Bo Ryan, Tom Izzo, Thad Motta,etc. How many of those coaches would not called a time out in the midst of another horrible start to refocus and jump start his team? When Sobo and Hearn where throwing up brick after brick, those other coaches would have straightened out who was going to get the shots. When Hollins started the game with 3 pointer after 3 pointer, those coaches would have adjusted their defense. I know they have better athletes but the coaching matters. Carmody didn’t even call a time out. He did nothing but sip water, make nervous faces, and look wimpy. This is not the leader we want at our helm. No doubt, however, he’s good for another 5 years with our administration.

    • long-term view

      Good to see more people who get it voicing there opinion on here. Write to Phillips!

  • Aatrain2

    I used to work northwestern bball camps in the summer as camp counselor I will never forget bill carmody, saying to group of kids “we don’t really teach defense around here” That is a true statement.

  • NU68

    Looks like coaching incompetence has truly risen to its highest level. A joke. Should have kept him coaching summer camp.

    Keep your NCAA and NIT … this season best be remembered for Charleston.

    All the bar flys on this blog that know so much about bball can chew on that ’til next season’s fiasco.

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Nebraska3000
Minnesota2100
Iowa2100
Illinois2100
Wisconsin1100
Purdue1200
Northwestern 0200

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Penn State3010
Maryland2100
Ohio State2100
Michigan2100
Michigan State2100
Indiana1100
Rutgers2101