Close Game Clarity & The Carmody Conundrum

This topic isn’t going away. Hopefully, the vitriol that has surfaced around the “should Bill Carmody be replaced?” will. On the eve of Northwestern’s fourth straight NIT appearance (vs Akron, Tues 8pm et ESPN2 @Welsh-Ryan), Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh seemed to hit all the right notes when assessing the future of Northwestern basketball and whether or not head coach Bill Carmody will get lucky number year 13 at the helm (he says “don’t”). This is the latest in what has become a daily media topic, both among hometown outlets and purple mafia perched in “national” media outlets (ie SI’s Stewart Mandel called the ‘Cats latest late game flop a reflection of their coach).  Teddy Greenstein recently laid out the pros and cons very well in the Carmody debate, without opining on what he believed NU should do.

I wanted to wait on this post until AFTER the NIT, but I can’t – the media hounds are beating the drum and I felt it appropriate to weigh in with some opinions. There are a few things missing from the philosophical and rhetorical questions being posed by media members. The most glaring hole in any coverage is any actual criticism of in-game coaching. Perhaps the continued mention of so many close game and OT losses implies that this is readily apparent, however to me it is worth exploring.

You can almost throw a dart at any of the close losses this season and really put the coaching tactics under the microscope. It’s more than a philosophical should you call a TO vs letting the team take the last shot in flow type of thing. Bill Carmody for years has been known as a lethal coach coming out of timeouts when he can design an out of bounds play. That went by the wayside in close games this year.

Pick a close loss, any close loss and you’ll see what I mean.  Purdue hits a baseline “j” to go ahead by 2 with over 7.0 seconds left at Welsh-Ryan. The ‘Cats call a timeout to presumably set up a series of options for the final shot. After this full timeout, Purdue applies full-court pressure and Sobo barely gets it to halfcourt before finding Shurna who flings a 35-foot prayer at the buzzer. Against Ohio State, the ‘Cats are tied with the same amount of time left and after a timeout, the ‘Cats show Alex Marcotullio as the lone pressure man in the backcourt providing an easy-as-pie pass for the Buckeyes to launch it to halfcourt and float a no-brainer lob to Jared Sullinger who has the 6-foot JerShon Cobb fronting him in the post. There are still 3.3 seconds left and we let the flow happen which results in a near half-court heave from Shurna. I can keep going, but you get the point.

Any counter argument to above comes down to talk of injuries which is countered by lack of depth on our bench. The bar debate among NU fans seems to have a pick a side and here is your script. It’s exhausting. But, I do believe, aside from a few jackasses making hurtful comments, it comes from a place of love. Considering the infamy and suffering of NU basketball fans, I think we have some of the best fans in the entire nation. Give me any B1G prolgram not named Indiana and put them on a 50-year no NCAA Tournament track and then let’s talk attendance figures.

However, there is one other seldom scribed about element of the close game, no soup for you misses – the Carmody karma. When I watch Tom Izzo, Coach K, Leonard Hamilton and other coaches in tight games down the stretch, they evoke a feeling of support and calmness. Sure, they may yell at a player for a mental error, but they evoke that “you know what to do” sense of reassurance. It’s a winning attitude. It’s the moxie to say things like Izzo did when after the loss to Ohio State in the regular season he said they were going to Indy to get their title back. Coach Carmody meanwhile, spent years literally turning his back on players when we shoot a free throw. He makes gestures and displays body language that makes it seem like he’s ostracizing his players in clutch situations. It’s worn very thin on me. I can’t think of a time when it’s been a final possession and he looked like he was in sync supporting his team.

Despite the downsides, there have been a ton of positives. Carmody had turned NU into a competitive program. Thanks to Tavaras Hardy, he’s attracted an increase in talent to Evanston with the likes of Crawford, Cobb, Demps etc..His players graduate, never hit the police blotter and he’s done it on a foundation of nothing (the program he inherited post KO was in God-awful shape).

His Princeton offense isn’t some methodical slow-down the game tactic that average fans think it is. He’s actually produced one of the more effective scoring teams in the B1G in recent years. The problem continues to be fundamentals on defense, despite the effective (initially) 1-3-1.  The ‘Cats don’t box out. Never have under Carmody. They are 333 in the nation in rebounding. Before you point to size, I’ll tell you, if they boxed out and opponents size was the reason for the rebounds, I’d grant you that. We don’t rebound. We’re traditionally one of the worst in the conference in defensive efficiency.

Those on the fence about keeping Carmody point to next year’s team, with finally some bigs on the floor with TCU transfer Nikolas Cerina, RS-freshman Mike Turner, big man Alex Olah, Shurna-like build Kale Abrahamson along with highly touted G Tre Demps, a healthy JerShon Cobb, Reggie Hearn, Marco and of course, Sobo as a sophomore. Should you change the head coach, will we repeat a 1990 NU transfermania (ironically Rex Walters, USF head coach is getting his name mentioned for some openings) and lose the base and revert back to a cellar-dwellar? Here is the conundrum. You can’t make the move to replace a Carmody unless you have the solution in hand.

‘Cats fans will bring up names like Duke assistant Chris Collins or the white hot VCU head man Shaka Smart, whom Illini nation is lusting for, but until you have certainty that a)they would take the job and b)you can protect the players and recruiting commitments from bolting you can’t make a move. Hence the complicated Carmody conundrum. It is different at NU and the ultimate insiders in the coaching world warn about taking the job, perhaps until now. Thanks to the work Bill Carmody has done.

The facilities upgrade is real. Folks, it is happening. You may not like the speed at which the announcements are coming, but hoops is getting a facility overhaul of pretty big proportions. Mike Thomas, the Illini AD is talking about a $100M+ remodeling of Assembly Hall and an upgrade to the practice facility. It’s part of the package along with a suitcase full of dough to try and lure a “hot” coach to Champaign. Carmody has managed to upgrade the program to a new level – an average at best program (not a knock) – without facilities as part of the package offering, until now.

However, in the big picture, the image of the program has been brought to light by the bright lights of the national media. You can’t read an article without the mention of the Chicago Cubs, or the fact that the length of time Carmody has had (12 seasons) to break through. I keep getting emails and Tweets with Rodney Dangerfield references – no respect. It turns out that NU wasn’t even one of the last six teams considered for the NCAA Tournament and then, where perception meets the road, we weren’t even one of the top 12 NIT teams. To me that screams of national perception weighing in once again.

I do have one bone to pick with the media, though. Comparisons to Duke. I can’t speak to the admissions standards for ballers at Vandy, Stanford or Notre Dame, but I can tell you several of the players annually that start for Duke are players that we couldn’t get in to NU even if we had them wanting to come to Evanston.

Coach Carmody has done a lot of things right, but as David Haugh pointed out, just not enough. In a class act he’s paying for all student tickets to tomorrow night’s NIT home game against a pesky Akron team that was 2 points away from dancing themselves (after winning their division in the MAC (13-3) they lost in the conference finals to Ohio by 1 point).  If chalk were to hold, the ‘Cats will be out in the second round when they venture to play 1-seed and Pac 12 regular season champion, Washington.

From there, the Carmody debate and Northwestern basketball future will rage on until Jim Phillips makes his decision about what to do. We as a program are stuck in that conundrum of competing in the arms race on every front – facilities, players, wins – while trying to do it the right way. With becoming a player in likely the best revenue sport conference in America, comes criticism and fans that debate the program, the coach, the play and put it under a microscope. The hoops program is at a critical crossroads, so close, yet still so far.

This afternoon we’ll offer up some LTP bracket fun and return of focus back to the task at hand – Akron and the NIT.

  • long-term view

    David nailed it. Set the bar higher. Gotta start fresh.

    “Bringing back the same coach to try the same approach a 13th year would seem to deny the sense of urgency felt Sunday night by fans, alums and some administrators.”

    Again, encourage everyone to write a letter to Phillips expressing your viewpoints.

  • NUmanager

    If you ran a business, and you had an employee who failed to meet his own goals and expectations for twelve consecutive years, would you keep that employee? Or would you keep going through the same motions over and over again expecting a different result?

    • AdamDG

      If that employee had a specialized skill that very few people in the world had, and had successfully showed that skill at his last employer, and had significantly improved a division of my business that had been the worst in the entire industry, and I wasn’t sure that I could get someone better

      …then I’d probably have reservations about firing him.

      • long-term view

        I’m not sure I would present the skillset that Carmody possesses as a scarce commodity, particularly given his lack of consistent recruiting and in-game weaknesses that have been well documented recently.

        Carmody inherited a solid Princeton program from Pete Carril. In 1995-96, under Carril, Princeton went 22-7 and won an NCAA tournament game against UCLA. Carmody took over in ’96-’97 and went 24-4 (If I had to guess, he probably benefitted from some returnees from ’95-’96). He went 27-2 in ’97-’98. He won the Ivy in his first two years but didn’t in his final two years (he went 19-11 in his last year). NCAA tourney first two years (by virtue of Ivy auto bid, no wins) and NIT in last two years (won 3 games in first NIT, none in second).

        It’s not like the guy had an unbelievable 5-plus year track record prior to us hiring him, regardless of what people were saying about him as an assistant coach.

        • AdamDG

          The skillset required to be a basketball coach is far, far more scarce than “an employee at your company”.

          The point is, it was a poor analogy.

          • NUmanager

            So what is the standard AdamDG? Is he beyond accountability? Are his own goals (of which I hope one is making an NCAA tournament on occasion) not relevant to evaluating the man?

  • the ranch lives!

    LTP: Please clarify….you say “the facilities upgrade is real”. For NU or Illinois? Seems like you’re saying Illinois for which I reply, who cares….

    • Lake The Posts

      For NU. It is happening and basketball will be a major part of it.

    • Jim

      How dependent is the fundraising for a facilities upgrade on a positive vibe about NU’s Bball future ?

      I think this must be part of the equation of a possible coaching change, in Jim Phillips mind ?

      Rember, there was also some conjecture at the end of the football season that poor fb performance was slowing down the intro of the facilities plan.

      This is becoming very tricky for Phillips. Even though current performance in both revenue sports distances themselves from “ancient history,” it will be difficult to deliver on rising expectations in a timely fashion.

      That’s the curse in Phillips’ attempt to create an athletic renaissance out of a culture where competitiveness in the revenue sports was a lay fallow for so long.

      • Lake The Posts

        Zero. The facilities upgrade is coming regardless of who is coaching at NU.

  • Nate

    I keep thinking that a new coach would yield better recruits and better results, but think of what Minnesota football did when they fired Glen Mason in hopes of competing for B1G championships…since then they’re on their 2nd different coach and trying to climb out of the Legends division cellar.

    While I don’t think that would happen to NU, but the possibility that a new coach would fail there is concerning. I’m more concerned about getting the facilities upgraded, because what recruit wouldn’t like to utilize new, state-of-the-art facilities?

    At Loyola, they are one year removed from the grand opening of the Norville Center for Athletics, a beautiful building for athletes and coaches, in addition to the renovation of Gentile Arena…this year the Ramblers were 1-17 in conference, but I’m anxious to see what Porter Moser (who’s entering his 2nd year as coach) does as far as recruiting better talent…it’s not exactly like NU, but it could be the litmus test to see what would happen at NU.

    Bottom line is, I think it’s time to let Carmody go, and seriously consider lifting the strenuous academic restricitions for football and basketball student-athletes. Fitz is pulling his hair out trying to find a way to get NU back to Pasadena and the bball team needs a young, fresh leader to get this team to the level of academic equivalent Vanderbilt. Upgraded facilities will help and a new bball coach could as well, but the bottom line is there are many deserving recruits that NU fans like us would love to see don the Purple, who are good students but don’t qualify now…if NU makes a small change to their academic requirements, AND the new facilities, the future will be special in Evanston.

  • cece

    there is only one important question, what will happen with Tavaras? he gets the recruits. is he ready to coach, a la Fitz? (and, yes, I still think that decision, a Mark Murpy decision, was a good one.)

    and if he is not ready to coach, will one more year of Carmody get Tavaras ready? and if not, will Tavaras stay under another coach? LTP has it correct, Carmody’s in game coaching is worse now. And there is no real love for him. but if firing Carmody affects Tavaras, I have concerns.

    • db

      I have nothing against tavaras, and I do hope they find a way for him to stick around, but if you are going to move right now you have to either hire a proven head coach, or a guy like Collins who grew up in a big boy program.

      This isn’t like the fitz decision. He was the best short and long-term option, experience be damned. You have to believe we have real options here.

      It’s not like Tavaras has some proprietary pipeline into the public league. It could be replaced if necessary. A guy like collins who regularly dropped 40 on the public league and has a dad coaching in the nba presumably would carry some weight.

      Damn Collins is such a no-brainer

      • PittsburghWildcat

        Similar thought, but same concept:

        Whenever we replace Carmody, I want someone who has been on a coaching staff that has taken a team to NCAAs in multiple recent years and preferably won some games in NCAAs.

        Could be either a head coach or asst coach at another school now, but at least they personally know how to get there and then do more than just show up for 1 game on CBS.

        That would obviously eliminate Tavaras.

        Here’s the thing that none of us alumni/fans know: what would Hardy’s coaching philosophy and approach be as head coach, and how refined is his knowledge of Xs and Os? Nothing says he would have to run the Princeton offense, and none of us are there on a daily basis to make any remote judgment on his basketball knowledge as it relates to being a head coach in a “big boy” conference like the B1G.

        It is information we don’t know. But hopefully Jim Phillips does.

    • Alum dad

      This shouldn’t even be an option. Keep BC or move in a totally new direction. I’m ready for something different that will hopefully also be something better. Sorry, but I don’t see recruiting our current level of talent as a feather in anyone’s cap.

    • calmer than you are

      I think that Tavaras has done a nice job improving the recruiting the last few years, but, honestly, he’s not really irreplaceable.

  • db

    Great post @LTP. It highlights this isnt just about recruiting, or not making the NCAA tourney. It’s about embarassing your kids, quitting on the team multiple times in years past, and ultimately not putting them in the best position to win. As most know I also think coach’s ego gets in the way of scheduling – I’ve heard him speak on the topic and was disturbed at best. I feared it could bite us some day and it might of this year – just another area where the kids get cheated.

    I hope you don’t consider me one of the jackasses referenced above. I do see both sides. I agree this is a different and much more difficult decision then when Mark Murphy sat on his ass and let this thing fester for years, parlaying that excellence in tough decision-making into one of the best nfl jobs out there.

    Carmody has brought the program back from the depths, and is absolutely a respected 8-10 program in the conference in a given year – something we have not been historically. Though note – he is also a part of said history. Whether we topped out this year is debatable, but the body of work suggests our best case under this regime is a quick flight home from Dayton or elsewhere. I just have higher aspirations.

    Doesn’t his contract play into this? He is on the last year of a deal – but you can’t expose the players to that kind of pressure. If you dont make a change you have to extend him. People keep talking about 1 more year – I dont know much about how they handle his contract, but i dont think its that simple given he expires after next year.

    One requirement I have, and all Carmody supporters and naysayers need to unite on – if they make a change, and I hope they do, this thing needs to be baked before they move on him. At worst Phillips needs to have a few guys that he knows he can get 1 of. As long as we know what we are getting into, you have to move. If Chris Collins or whoever fails, that is what it is. At least you aspired to be relevant.

    I have too many friends rooting against the program right now just to effect change. What does that say in and of itself? I think he makes an incredible amount of mistakes, hate the composition of the roster depth, etc., but watched every minute of every game and sat there hoping against hope yesterday. There aren’t many of us left out there. I would think that something needs to be done.

    • Bucko

      @cece and db

      Change for change sake isn’t good but this change is one that needs to be made.

      At NU we tend to love our former players a little beyond reason. I do the same thing. But that has become as bad as being a Cub fan!

      I love Tavaras, but a coaching change decision cannot be made solely with Tavaras’ future in consideration. Can he coach? I don’t know but I do know that he shows more emotion at the crappy homecourt calls NU always gets than BC ever has!

      In regards to recruiting, you cannot go into another year without some decision being made. Lame duck coaches can’t recruit. One of 3 things must happen to avoid this:

      1. Extend Carmody’s contract. Ouch!
      2. Announce that Carmody finishes his contract (1 year) with Tavaras as the coach in waiting as Purdue did with Keady and Painter.
      3. Fire Carmody but have some idea of who would take the job as db said.

      I personably find No. 1 unacceptable, No. 2 acceptable and No. 3 preferrable.

  • Andrew

    Firing a coach is messy business and I don’t relish the thought of it, especially when we’re talking about a good guy like Carmody. And it’s no doubt a risky move, one that could lead to some short-term steps backward. Then again, consider that Missouri brought in a new coach this year to lead basically the same group of players and went from being an 11 seed to a 2 seed. Now, Mizzou had a lot more talent in place, but the point is that sometimes a fresh perspective is needed.

    But in my mind, the administration making the decision on Carmody can’t get bogged down in what happens next year, as hard as that is considering the NCAA drought. It simply comes down to two questions.

    1) What are the goals for this program long-term? I hope that it goes beyond just making the NCAA tournament.

    2) Is Carmody the guy to take the program to those goals? If he’s not, than bottom line, you’ve got to make the change now. There will never be a perfect time, but the sooner you enact change, the sooner you’re likely to see results.

    • db

      +1. Well said, in a lot fewer words than I use.

      • Bucko

        Andrew – db is right – well said.

        My concern is that the goals of the administration may not be the same as most of us long suffering alums and fans.

  • cece

    while I am concerned about Tavaras, and I do think he has connects that could not be replaced by Collins, Collins would be an awesome move. And something, Bucko’s 2 or 3 above, must happen. Phillips pulled the trigger on women’s soccer, women’s hoops, there is not a real love for Carmody, his path out must be real soon or soon enough.

  • PittsburghWildcat

    I liked Haugh’s article. I thought it was very well done.

    It has to be nearing the end of the Carmody era. I don’t know how anyone thinks we make a monumental leap beyond where we are now without a new head coach. I have no doubt it took a lot out of him just to get us to where we are now, which is quite possibly the most consistent amount of respectability and night-in-night-out competitiveness we’ve ever head in the conference. I’m not confusing this with consistent excellence, mind you, but we all know there’s a lot of years and decades where we were an absolute joke in the conference.

    It looks like the Carmody tank might be empty, but I think NU has to make sure to end the era the right way. It sure seems like Carmody is well respected among his peers — the same peers who would send good young head coaches and good young asst coaches ready to be head coaches our way.

    We’re pretty sure he has at least 1 year left on the contract (maybe more, but at least 1). Give him that year unless Carmody wants to step down/retire now. It might be a lost year in the W-L record, who knows. But if he’s that respected, we can’t just kick him in the backside and send him out the door.

    • db

      I think his peers respect him, and his ability to do something with restrictions they cant fathom. There is genuine admiration if not bewiderment.

      I also think they like NU being irrelvant recruiting Chicago. It is in the coaching fraternity’s best interest to keep NU at exactly the level it is at right now, and not competing for the same recruits.

  • TypeO

    I am really torn. Often critical but at times complementary of BC, I cannot disagree more with the talk that this is “the best we can do and we would be losing every game by 30 without BC’s Xs and Os brilliance”. I am afraid that this IS the best BC can do, but that we should be doing better at this point. On the other hand, with four returning starters and perhaps some quality depth, I am prone to want to give him one more year. No breakthrough next year and it’s over.

  • Make Some Noyes

    How much will Carmody’s contract impact the decision? It runs through the 2012-2013 season. I could see a scenario where they keep him until his contract expires next season, after which he retires.

    • Lake The Posts

      Little to none. In this day and age, the extra year on every coach’s contract is a necessity. You have to have it to guard against negative recruiting, thus, buyouts become the answer. Illinois is quite good at this now and they owe over $7M in buyouts to Zook, Weber and the women’s hoops coach.

  • Ron

    I disagree. A coach on his final year must be either extended or released, because he cannot function as a lame duck. He cannot recruit, as it will certainly be used against him. That is why he received his last extension when he did.

  • Frank

    The recruiting has improved. Reportedly we have people coming in who can help the team. Yes, we lose John Shurna but have a good returning nucleus. The last four years have been decent, something we haven’t said in the modern era. Next year will be good.

    The atmosphere at the games has been impressive. Another thing we haven’t seen recently.

    A new coach sets us back two three years.

    Now is not the time for a change.

  • DT

    While I get you know some of the inside culture at Duke and speak with some earnest knowledge about academic standards applied to specific Duke Hoopsters, truly sounds like Sour Grapes when you bang the drum about how Duke student athletes would not gain admission to Northwestern. That stuff might fly on your blog but not in the bigger court of industry, media, or public opinion… Let’s clean up our own house, eh?

    Take a look at Ed Sherman for instance today in Crain’s for the \perception\ of NU Basketball compared to Vandy, Stanford, Duke and for that matter, Notre Dame… Most folks in the media and the general public look at your statements related to that for being just what they are… A partisan making excuses…

    You gotta lay off the Kool Aid, admit your baby has warts, and the issue is much more systemic than admissions, a basketball arena, or for that, a coach…. Finally, I’d submit Illinois has more than 7 million bucks ROI of good will with it’s fanbase proving it will do what it takes to win, including saying goodbye to long terms coaches with downward trends…

    • NU68


    • Lake The Posts

      You missed the point. I get and actually support the notion that good academic schools are doing well and that NU can NOT use it as an excuse. My gripe is the fact Duke gets in to that conversation when those in the know, know they’re not playing by the same academic challenges other comps are.

      • DT

        You know some folks in that sphere of influence at Durham– and I’ll trust you on that one… That said, I’d like to hear Coach K or Phillips’ mentor, Kevin White respond… Not sure that would sync up with the bullish stance of LTP…

        Finally, I’m glad we still agree, academics are not an excuse for lack of performance- be it the basketball court or football field… Those days are long gone… If that remains a problem, NU should be playing D-3 where Wash U. St. Louis for instance has become an elite power.. I’d prefer, NU find the success of Vandy, Stanford, and yes Duke, at our current choice and affiliation…

    • Db

      There is a famous story about a duke asst (Dawkins?) that was going to replace one of our former coaches. They ran anonymous resumes by the department and found out they would not have been admitted. The resumes were laettner and hurley. The asst went back to duke, and I think we went to byrdsong. We absolutely have higher standards than duke, for what that is worth.

  • James

    This may have been said in previous posts/comments, but what I think is the primary problem with the Princeton style offense, and one that we saw play out in excruciating fashion in almost all of our losses this year, is how it functions at the end of a game. From what I can see, it works best in the way it wears a defense down and requires them to be very disciplined for the entire length of a possession. We can beat teams with more talent at times because they simply do not stay disciplined and give up back door cuts/ threes / etc…..but at the end of a close game, when everything is on the line, every team buckles down on de and we run the same predictable garbage that involves a pointless spin move and, if the defense does stay disciplined, inevitably a forced three or worse. Carmody did not adapt AT ALL this year despite this happening again and again. We saw the same thing over and over, and it was infuriating as a fan. His horrible attitude, which LTP mentioned, is icing on the cake.
    Combine this end of game ineptitude with the rebounding debacle, and you have a formula for repeating plateau in a tough conference like the B1G. Carmody is a one-trick pony, and 12 years is a big enough sample size to prove that his one trick has been deduced and exposed by his competition (a fact they are more than willing to hide by repeatedly singing his praises), and since he has been unable or unwilling to adapt, it’s time for us to him out back and shoot him. Metaphorically speaking of course.
    Take a chance on someone young (like a Shaka Smart. Not necessarily him, but someone in his mold) who exudes passion and intelligence (like Fitz)….just make a move to get us out of this repetitive cycle. I’m tired of seeing him moping on the sidelines with his arms crossed and hearing his inane pre and post game comments. He is a formulaic and uninspiring coach. Let him go.

    • long-term view

      +1 Completely agree.

    • Lake The Posts

      +1 This was the other in-game coaching tactic I omitted in the post. It is anecdotal until a sabermatician helps out, but our “quality” shots in the last 4 minutes seem to be skewed bad. Our prevent offense kicks in and we change the way we do business, starting the offense under :10 and don’t have enough guys who can create on their own, often forcing us to take a desperation 3.
      We should be continuing to look for the best shot in our offense, not the hope we get something under duress strategy.

  • skepticat

    It could be interesting to see what the administration does following the NIT, but I think people would do well to look at the end of the football season, which produced exactly no changes in the coaching staff, for precedent. Let’s ignore for a moment that a coaching change would mean the firing of the most successful coach in school history, as modest as that statement might be. It would be an otherwise unprecedented move towards prioritizing winning over all else by an administration that, by all evidence, historically and presently emphasizes academics, \doing it the right way,\ and (more recently) competitiveness over any hard number of wins and losses. By all appearances, coach Walker was welcome to stay as long as he wished, putting together .500 seasons and occasional bowl appearances; Fitz seems even more well-established. I’d like someone to point out or link to official statements showing disappointment in reaching the NIT for the fourth consecutive year after having spent most of the season in the NCAA bubble discussion.

    I could also disagree, even if just to play devil’s advocate, that we’ve obviously peaked under Carmody. Before he was here for 12 years, he was here for 8, and he closed out that 8th year with his worst-ever record under the Cats, including a grand total of 1 conference win. Those 8 years also included exactly 1 winning season, no consistency in performance, and absolutely no evidence of going anywhere. He’s since followed that up with 4 straight NIT appearances, either bettering his season record or improving upon the team’s postseason showing every year. What could he do in these last 4 years that he couldn’t do in the first 8? Moreover, if he survived those first 8 miserable years, what evidence is there he’s going to be fired after the 4 most successful years of basketball in school history?

    I’d also be loath to point out the example of Missouri changing their head coach and becoming an NCAA 2-seed as evidence as to why we should fire Carmody, just as I’d hesitate pointing to Tressel replacing Cooper at Ohio State and winning the national title in his 2nd year as evidence as to why we should fire Fitz. Post-Glenn Mason Minnesota is likely a more apt comparison.

  • Lake The Posts

    I’m getting the sense Glen Mason is going to trend on this blog as much as Greg Mattison.

    • skepticat

      Ok, how about Lou Tepper, Ron Turner, and Ron Zook? :-)

    • db

      Glen Mason thinks Joe Paterno walks on water. Grand marshal of the parade/coaching fraternity that doesn’t care Paterno let kids get raped. I hope Glen Mason’s name disappears from our conversation yesterday.

  • Hampton

    The close losses are frustrating. But in indicting Carmody for close losses, don’t you lose sight of the fact that for 58 minutes or whatever, Carmody coached up his team to stay neck and neck with opponents that on paper are more talented (in some cases vastly more talented) than NU? Carmody absolutely deserves criticism for his team’s inability to execute in the clutch. But he also absolutely deserves credit for having his team in a position to have top-15 Michigan and top-5 Ohio State on the ropes, when it has no business being in those games.

  • Jimgocats93

    Keep Carmody.

    I measure BC from 2008 when Phillips arrived. I believe prior to that he had no support. He was a hire by President Bienen and was basically ignored by two AD’s. Since Phillips hiring in 2008 the program has progressed greatly and is close to breaking through.

    If you measure BC from this perspective you might come to a different conclusion.

    I do hate our lack of aggressive defense now, but recall a few years back being quite proud of our match up man-to-man. The offense makes offensive rebounds difficult but there is no excuse for a lack of defense rebounding.

    As for game management…. some great ones micro manage, some do not: Knight and Wooden come to mind.

    I think we have gotten competitive and we are now at the frustrating point of learning to win. That is player leadership as much as coaching. I see no reason for this program to fail at turning the corner.

    For those who want a quick fix, NU would need to do a Memphis or Kentucky admissions deal for a Calipari-like fix.

    Our record is better, our staff is better, our recruiting is better, and our facilities will soon be better.


    • long-term view

      We had ONE, count ‘em ONE, win over an NCAA tournament team from a major conference (i.e. didn’t benefit from AQ). And only two if you include Mississippi Valley State. The NCAA selection committee saw through our resume for what it was – non-existent.

      If that’s progress, how long is it going to take us to get to at least 3 or 4 quality wins in a year?

    • Db

      No support??? He was hired effectively to a life time contract by the president, and Murphy let him win 1 game per yr with no repercussions. He had nothing but support.

      Is it a coincidence that when Phillips showed up he stopped quitting on his team? I don’t know, but it definitely isn’t because of his lack of former support. Perhaps he realized a new AD would care if he continued to quit on his team?

  • Bamacat

    DB- If you need to ask if you were onre of the jackasses, the answer is pretty obvious. You are much less offensive today. Maybe you can take a little time to cool off before posting. Then we can get your valid points with out the negative, codesending presentation.

  • HudyBlitz

    The long-term season ticketholder next to me said before the Iowa home game that Carmody had recently put his Wilmette house on the market, but was telling people that he is just downsizing.

    Not sure what to make of this, but would not surprise me that, if true, BC himself has some doubts about his future. I like BC as a person and as a coach, but I am increasingly sympathetic to the notion that if he can’t get this team to the NCAAs, he’s not going to be able to do it ever. On the other hand, he’s certainly earned another season at the helm, as his team is playing in the post-season, and to compare to the Illinois situation, did not quit on him and is not in a downward trend.

    PS I will be in my seats tomorrow night to see us beat the Zips and for a final chance to cheer on Shurna and his teammates at home. I hope all the local commenters on the board care enough to be there as well and to support this team, no matter what they think of BC or the NIT. If you really want to build this program, boycotting the NIT will not help.

    • CM


  • WillHe

    Well written blog LTP. I’ve just starting following this website closely in the last few weeks. My gut feeling is that most of the purely negative comments regarding BC are from fairly recent NU grads. I’ve had basketball season tickets for about twenty five years and have followed the program closely since I graduated in 1978. In NU’s case, one definitely has to take a long term view of things. People either have short memories or don’t understand the (lack of) history regarding Cats hoops. I’ve seen countless games over the years in which NU wasn’t even competitive. The recent teams have been far and away more competitive and fun to watch than a vast majority of teams from the 80’s and 90’s. In my opinion this year’s team far exceeded my preseason expectations given that our starting backcourt consisted of an athletically overmatched freshman and a former walkon. The key point that LTP is correct about is the following > If you are going to remove Carmody you have to a replacement lined up that you feel confident can succeed given the inherent competitive disadvantages he is going to have. Ideal candidates such as Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens will certainly look at the opening at Illinois but wouldn’t consider coming to Evanston. Everyone that touts Chris Collins as the solution forgets (or I’m guessing doesn’t know) that Krzyzewski emphatically told Tommy Amaker to pass on NU after Amaker inquired whether Duke players such as Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner would have been accepted to attend Northwestern. The answer in his interview with NU was \No\ to both. Coach K told Amaker that the Cats job was a dead end situation and his advice was heeded. I’ve also been told that the reason Duke is able to accept academically borderline recruits is that there are more easier majors available for athletes. The interview process to replace Kevin O’Neill was a long and painful one. Most mid-major up and coming candidates shunned the Cats interest for the same reason Amaker did. O’Neill came to NU with a hot shot resume as a recruiter. Take a look at the players he was able to lure to Evanston and you’ll appreciate our current team. (He coached Evan Eschmeyer but didn’t recruit him.) In my mind its almost like Carmody is a victim of his own success here. I realize it’s all relative, but his tenure here has easily been the most successful since the 1960’s. Keep in mind that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Failure to hire the right man to replace BC could easily have all of us looking back at the Carmody Era of Cats hoops as the Golden Purple Era. (30 Big Ten wins the last four seasons as compared to 36 combined victories in the sixteen years before BC)

    • Db

      Appreciate the color and thought. One question, not meant to be rhetorical, when the announcers tout coach’s record – the stat that he wins 6 B1G games 70% of the time. How do you feel about that? The 33% win percentage some times. Do you think that sounds weird that we would plant a sad stat like that? Is that our ceiling in your mind? I don’t know, that stat makes me almost as mad as the monkey. But it sounds like you think it’s high end? Again, not patronizing the point, just curious.

      • WillHe

        Believe it or not I don’t consider it a sad stat. It’s certainly not the ultimate success that we would all love to support. Perhaps the proper analogy in this case is “You have to walk before you can run”. Ironically take a look at Bill Foster’s coaching record both at Duke and Northwestern. Foster actually helped catapult Duke’s program in the late 70’s. His final three seasons there were more successful than Krzyzewski’s first three. Obviously in the long run Coach K has built a basketball empire. Now look at Fosters’ record in Evanston. He was here for seven seasons and the most Big Ten victories he had in any season was three. He arrived in Evanston with a well earned reputation of turning basketball programs around. He had done this successfully at Rutgers, Utah, Duke and in his first three seasons at South Carolina. Unfortunately he never was able to repeat any of his prior success with the Cats. There is no question that coaching a major men’s sport at NU has it’s unique challenges. The excuses used for our mediocrity happen to be true for the most part. I do think one major challenge compared to other highly regarding academic institutions that succeed at big time athletics is the lack of a “cream puff” major at NU. Certainly there are easy classes but as far as easy academic majors go, they don’t exist, at least not when I was there. History matters. Like it or not, recruits and their families factor it into their decision process. The recent history for NU hoops is a far cry from the what it was back in the 80’s & 90’s. At least we’re considered relevant by our opponents. I guarantee you that opposing coaches spend alot more time preparing for a game vs NU than they used to. Even though Northwestern was always a potential “trap game” for opponents many years ago the level of competition would could provide was so minute that even if we somehow got off to a good start in a specific game we would invariably lose by the time the final buzzer went off. Getting back to your major question > Do we have any more upside from our current level? Great question! If you are looking for a top ten team with Carmody with his current recruiting restraints I think you’ll be dissappointed. I can’t see it happening. On the other hand, can we eventually have a team with him that makes the Big Dance? Absolutely. The quality level of our recruits is certainly greater than it used to be. I have to give a thumbs up to Tavares Hardy in that regard. Carmody’s strength isn’t recruiting. But he is a far better overall game coach than we’ve had here in many years. Take a look at most of the NU athletes that have developed into top flight players. Most are under the radar players that big time programs had no interest in. In basketball they were either too small, too slow or not fully physically developed during their junior year in high school. Its the luck of the draw for us. Fortunately some athletes peak later than others and we end up with a few examples. (Thank goodness!) The risk of replacing BC at this point is extreme. We can’t land the same type coach that Illinois will be able to attract. That’s not to say we don’t get lucky and hire the next Coach K. But think about it. What are the odds? Not good. Sure, the Bulls got the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft to draft Derrick Rose by cashing in on a 50 to 1 shot. That’s probably the odds (at best) of landing the next Coach K. It can happen but it’s far more likely that we end up with a Kwame Brown. (Michael Jordan’s number one pick in the 2001 NBA draft with Washington) Currently our basketball program has positive momentum. To attempt to jump to the next level at this point is a big risk. Personally I’d rather see the next season or two play out with BC and see where we are. Like I stated in the above posting I totally agree with LTP in regards to replacing Carmody now. Phillips had better have a young “Derrick Rose” calibre coach in the wings for it to play out the way we want it to. And either way, we won’t know for sure for quite some time. The obvious highly desired candidates aren’t going to come here at this point.

        • Db

          I think you are severely underestimating how the college basketball landscape and the rules have evolved over the past 15 years. Grades, scholarships, depth of talent pool, parody. Even this team makes the tournament if carmody just has the decency to fill out his roster, or godforbid gets anything out of luka who started as a freshman. The opportunity in front of us has a bar north of 6 wins, and if it doesn’t, we should not be in the big ten. That doesn’t mean we will clear that bar annually, but that cannot be our bogey. That would absolutely be an embarrassment, and has been.

          • WillHe

            The past decade of Wildcats basketball certainly hasn’t been an embarressment. Has the end result many times been frustrating? Sure. I truly found the prior two decades (80’s & 90’s) to be much closer to what would be classified as “embarressing”. I’m all for replacing Carmody if Phillips has a guy lined that he is sure will be top shelf. But in my opinion it will be a crap shot. I studied about ten potential hypothetical candidates for the Illinois job and I concluded none of them would consider coming to NU. The state of Illinois is rich with high school basketball talent, however, IL has a much better chance of tapping that talent than we do. The difficult dilemna for the Illini is what line do they draw in the sand regarding recruiting ethics. To not realize that there is “Pay to Play” at work with many top recruits is burying your head in the sand. NU will not play the payola game and I support that policy. To be honest, you asked in your earlier blog about NU’s ceiling. In reality the policy of not playing that game does put a ceiling on the program. It certainly doesn’t mean we can’t move up the ladder but it does put us at a competitive disadvantage vs a certain group of “upper tier” programs. For example, don’t think that SEC football is “clean as a whistle”.

          • Db

            I don’t think it’s fair to put blinders on to the 60% of the decade before the last 4 years, and also to recognize that they probably shd not have made the nit at least 2 of the 4 years.

            That said 100% agree you need to know where you are going if you move. Cannot just move for change’s sake. And agree about Collins being FAR from a sure thing. I’m just ok with the risk, personally.

            My biggest frustration is not the coach or even our success, it’s what are we? I guess we are the place that thinks .333% is the bar. That kills me, but if it is what it is I guess keep him and move forward.

    • NUNUNU

      Great post. Love the perspective. I will be surprised if NU gets rid of Carmody after the ‘Cats most successful regular season ever (maybe if Akron blows them out, but even then it seems like an odd move unless he just doesnt have it in him anymore to go through this and wants to be done)

      1 other I’d like to ask the ‘fire Carmody’ crowd – which has definitely been more rational and thoughtful today than I’ve seen in the past – some good points are being made. Obviously there are risks the ‘cats take a step back rather than a step forward with a new coach. But even conceding the best case scenario – presumably if we hired a Collins (or whoever else), and they successfully took NU to the tournament, you’d have to think they would become a hot target for other programs and quickly be able to leave the ‘Cats for more a lucrative and prestigious job.

      So – would you take 1 guaranteed crack at the tourney followed by the coach abandoning us, his recruits leaving, NU having to frantically replace him, etc. thus risking a long stint of being awful over the continued bubble drama and likely mediocrity in the Carmody era?

      • Db

        It might be hypocritical because I battle with DT on fitz and bring up the same point. I don’t think we can even consider moving past fitz because of the same issue.

        That said, our mbb program is in a different spot than football. We have to get there before we worry about losing it. If a new coach gets us a structurally sound program, goes to the tourney with purpose, proves you can get it done at NU, and parlays that into a better job…I’ll worry about stability some other day. That’s where I am at least.

        By the way, I’ve always thought they would keep him, but changed my mind today. If they lose to Akron, it would be real odd to keep him…so if that is the case…would a school like NU really lever the decision to a single game against Akron? Can they really extend him right now? I don’t know, I actually think they might move on it. Something feels weird.

  • Db

    From scout:

    “It’s like bad losses didn’t seem to hurt teams as much as good wins helped them,” Carmody said.

    Yeah, it’s like that. And that’s not new. You need good wins, first and foremost. The football schedule didn’t cut it. This isnt like qualifying for the motor city bowl. National writers had this pegged as an issue for the last 2 years. And you sat on your throne, thumbed your nose at scheduling, and didn’t put your team in the best position to meet their dreams.

    “We’ll definitely look at all the aspects of it, the scheduling,” he said. “I’ll sit down with my staff and (athletic director) Jim Phillips and we’ll just look at everything and see how we can, what we can do from a scheduling standpoint that would help us. We had done that, but maybe we have to do a little more and think about it a little bit differently.”

    I’m sure John shurna appreciates that you will take some more time this year to think about how to give your team the best chance to make the tourney. Anything else on the docket? Using the scholarships?

    I talk myself into all the good he has done, and then he opens his mouth and this garbage comes out. Oh boy.

    • long-term view

      What a confidence inspiring leader. I can’t even pretend to be surprised anymore (this is consistent with his quotes about the Minnesota game NOT being a must-win). It epitomizes his attitude or at least what I perceive through his demeanor on the sidelines and in pre- and post-game interviews.

      The people on this board who think we’ve come a long way are in for a rude awakening if we actually attempt to schedule well. To reiterate, we beat one NCAA tournament team this year.

  • buckyor

    I believe Carmody received his last extension when he did because his guardian angel Bienen was still in charge of things. Certainly it wasn’t merited by the team’s on-court performance.

  • Purple to Pasadena

    It is a great testament to the strides our program has made when most of the voices are calling for the coach’s head after one of the best seasons in our program’s history (sad but true). Carmody has his shortcomings, as the poor execution at the end of close games shows. But with the guys we have coming back next year, and the new recruits coming in, and teams like Michigan St., Ohio St. and Wisconsin losing key guys, next year we should have an even better team in a weaker conference. We will make it to the dance.

    For those who believe Chris Collins would come in as the program’s savior, consider the poor track record of Coach K’s coaching tree: Jeff Capel (rode Blake Griffin for two years, fired two years later); Johnny Dawkins (Stanford’s program is mired in mediocrity or worse); Quin Snyder (run out of Missouri in the midst of scandal). Even Tommy Amaker was mediocre at Seton Hall and Michigan before cleaning up in the Ivy League, and there are whispers that Harvard has made it easier for basketball players to get financial aid. So Collins is no sure thing.

    We’re not happy where we are, but even the most hardened skeptic would have to admit we’re heading in the right direction. Let’s not interrupt that progress.

  • DazedAndConfused

    Reading many posts on this site I have a gut feeling that many Bill Carmody critics are actually rooting for the Cats to lose to Akron to fuel his demise. I realize that the NIT isn’t our ultimate goal but the better we do in this year’s tournament only helps the program progress. Where does everyone stand? Would you rather the Cats lose on Tuesday night and have Carmody fired or have the Cats make a run in the tourney?

    • Db

      I hope they win every game and he gets carried off the MSG court on everyone’s shoulders.

      That said, you are absolutely right. Most of my friends have rooted against the program this year so it could right itself. I thoroughly disagree with that tact but it’s a relevant data point.

    • long-term view

      I want to see Shurna win his last home game.

      That being said, if you isolate it to two absolute outcomes and you guarantee Carmody is gone with a loss and stays with a win, I do hope NU loses. It’s the NIT — we’ve been the last three years and look where we are tonight.

      • NU68

        Where we are … not even a contender in the NIT and the boys on this blog are annoyed we didn’t go to the NCAA. WTF are these guys drinking?

  • There are a lot of confusing things about assessing a coach – why have inbound plays been such a problem this year, when they’ve been a strength in the past? But, guys, NU hasn’t had 4 winning years in a row since – you ready for this – 1912-1915. Our pathetic basketball history shouldn’t be used as an excuse for accepting mediocrity, but let’s not make an idol of being selected for this tournament. Some of the factors I hope Phillips looks at are Carmody’s interaction with the team, his recruiting efforts, and a lot of intangibles that program insiders can assess but most fans cannot. At least BC hasn’t run screaming into the night, like O’Neill. And let’s beat Akron and everyone else between Evanston and MSG.

  • calmer than you are

    I’ve never once rooted for the Cats to lose, and I think that Carmody’s firing is almost comically overdue.

    • calmer than you are

      (That comment was supposed to be in response to @DazedAndConfused above. I blame the captcha fail for moving it down here.)

  • long-term view

    Btw, for those who argue the bball program will blow up (which I think means we will be in the CBI tournament) if Carmody is dismissed and replaced in a timely fashion. I don’t necessarily believe the below, but it’s a data point.

    It’s not like recruits don’t read the papers and blogs. Even if the incoming class matriculates and NU keeps Carmody another year, he’s on the hot seat so there is uncertainty / unease / pressure. It’s worse in many respects. Think about it — those who are borderline on Carmody even admit that it’s NCAA tourney or bust next year. You’re going to impact a recruiting class at some point. Might as well be now when the cupboard isn’t completely bare.
    Olah’s parents are in Romania, and they did not sign off on his commitment to Northwestern in time for the early signing period deadline in November. He cannot sign until April 11, but his coach at Traders Point Christian Academy near Indianapolis said that NU fans have nothing to worry about.

    “He is 100 percent absolutely committed to Northwestern,” Dave Jamerson told the Tribune.

    And that’s even if there is a coaching change, Jamerson said.

    Olah would only reconsider if a new coach came in and was not interested in signing him.

  • WillHe

    The problem with Chris Collins isn’t whether he would be a good choice, it’s that he wouldn’t take the job. (at least with the current parameters) Dukies tend to stick together. Collins was an assistant coach for Tommy Amaker at Seton Hall after he played overseas. He then returned to Duke to assist Krzyzewski. Coach K’s advice to Collins would be identical to what he told Amaker years ago about the NU hoops job. He feels that given the recruiting limitations and the fact that NU has to compete against strong Big Ten programs that it’s a dead end job for a promising young coach. The Illinois job is different and I’m sure Krzyzewki would highly recommend that job to Collins. Personally I think Collins is an “A-” candidate there behind Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens. Coach K is from Chicago of course (Weber High School) and he is well aware of the Chicago and Illinois basketball landscape. Its no surprise that he was able to recruit local players such as Collins, Corey Maggette and Jon Scheyer to Duke. He also knows that NU may not have accepted some of these players despite their terrific high school basketball resumes. We aren’t going to get a Dukie (for better or worse) to take the job so as I’ve stated above Phillips would have to have a comparable candidate lined up in advance to replace Carmody. And it would have to be one that doesn’t agree with Krzyzewski’s (well respected) assessment of the Northwestern basketball program. For younger NU hoops fans here is a summary of Amaker’s rejection of NU’s offer to him (written by Skip Myslenski in the Chicago Tribune on 4/28/93) >

    Tommy Amaker, the 27-year-old assistant basketball coach at Duke, has turned down an offer to become head coach at Northwestern. Amaker, who was offered the coaching job on Sunday, told the school on Tuesday that he would stay at Duke because “this wasn’t the time for us to change.” “They were terrific to me. Everyone there treated me and my wife extremely well,” said Amaker, who visited Evanston last weekend. “It boiled down to us looking at a situation where we were extremely flattered, but a situation that wasn’t right for us now.”

    Keep in mind that Amaker was the coaching candidate who asked NU whether they would have accepted Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley after bringing their transcripts to their interview. NU’s answer was “No”.

    • db

      Amaker was 27, that was a ridiculous. desperate offer. Any 27 year old should not be leading a program, particularly one that has challenges like NU.

      Lets not be naive and forget that it is in Coach K’s best interest to keep Northwestern down. The coaching fraternity is very comfortable keeping subpar coaches in spots where someone else might cause problems. Dont think that had nothing to do with Izzo’s tirade about Weber getting fired for being terrible. I agree Coach K might not give his blessing, but that guy is a big enough d-bag to keep Collins out of Chicago for the wrong reasons.

      So, I have no point, I just wanted to say that.

      • WillHe

        Keep in mind that Fitz was 31 during his first year as the Cats football head coach. His lack of experience has certainly shown at times, but hopefully his on the job learning will serve him well over time. As far as offering a 27 year old the head hoops job back in 1993, I completely agree with you that it was a sign of desperation. The bottom line is that the last several basketball coaching searches have been long and painful. We learned that many candidates who we felt would be interested turned us down. Another example is Mike Deane, who was Siena at the time. He ended up getting the Marquette job in the mid 1990’s before subsequently landing in Lamar and Wagner, where he was fired about two years ago. That’s why LTP’s point about having someone lined up IN ADVANCE is relevant. The head basketball job at NU isn’t nearly as attractive as many would like to think it is. Even Ricky Byrdsong (RIP) admitted upon accepting the job that his peers had urged him to remain at Detroit. I also agree with your point about opposing coaches complimenting their bottom feeder peers. In reality it only makes them look better. The one comment you make that I completely dismiss is your appraisal of Coach K’s concern about keeping NU’s basketball program down. Unfortunately we are a gnat on an elephant as far as he is concerned. We are no competition for him or his program whatsoever. Any potential recruit considering both Duke and NU would choose Duke in a heartbeat.

        • db

          Of course, but if NU turned into Vanderbilt or even Stanford it certainly would make K’s job in Chicago more of a headache. Particularly because as you point out that they have hit the area hard historically. If NU was Vandy would Collins or Scheyer definitely have gone to Duke? Probably, but they certainly would have considered NU.

          Point being Coach K is just as much of a snake oil salesman as the rest of them, and you can’t take his actions as always having his assts best interests at heart.

          I agree and have echoed a few times we have to know there is a guy, or one of a couple guys, that will definitely take the job before they make a move.

          • WillHe

            I can assure you that at this point in his career Krzyzewski isn’t worried about creating competition for himself. His coaching legacy is secure. To be honest it would only add to his stature to have Coach K clones ruling the hardwood over the next couple decades. I think he would love to have Collins land the IL job. Also, think about it. Lets say Collins goes to Illinois and does real well. Three years from now (assuming Coach K is still on the job) a recruit can choose between Krzyzewski or Collins. Do you pick the original genius or the clone? Most would go with the legend. In reality though he couldn’t lose. Either way he still is leaving his mark.

        • db

          big difference between 27 and 31, and we all saw how 31 worked out, out of the box, and arguablly by some to date.

          • WillHe

            Totally agree with you regarding age 27. It indicates the true level of real desperation that was involved in the last several basketball coaching searches.

  • db

    The school has 2 options:

    1) cut bait – “coach carmody has taken this program to places it has never been. we are in a better place and we thank him for taking us there. he runs an impeccably clean program, and has raised and graduated student athletes in the truest sense of the word. that said, this is a results-oriented business and we believe you can win at Northwestern. we see our raised national profile across academics and athletics as an opportunity, and feel now is the time to move from point B to point C. We hope to have the coach that will take us there on board in the next 2 weeks. Goodnight.” OR

    2) Extend – “The last 4 basketball seasons have been the most celebrated in the school’s history. We have never been a part of post-season basketball like this, and truly feel this is the on-ramp to future success, not the peak. Coach Carmody is a big part of what this program has achieved and where it is going, and we are convinced there is not a better member of the coaching fraternity to take us there. We realize that a portion of our fan base is frustrated with the pace of progress, and frankly, we need more of that as it shows our fans care and expect Northwestern to succeed in men’s basketball much like it succeeds in the classroom and across other D1 athletics. We accept criticism – no one here is going to say we have not made mistakes, at times major ones, and have not run a perfect program. That said, we know where this is going and expect to get there very soon. Coach Carmody has agreed to stay on and see this thing through, signing a multi-year extension this morning. We ask that our fan base unite and get behind our team, which is poised to break through and challenge for B1G championships in the coming years.”

    The last sentence probably doesnt work, but other than that those are your options.

    Those calling for a 1 year ultimatum year have no idea how ridiculous that is. Not fair to the players to be playing for their coach’s future, recruiting does not work like that, etc. The only scenario where that could play out is #2 above, he fails this year, and you eat the extension. A lot of egg on the face for phillips in that scenario. I guess since they dont have to release the contract they could lie about the extension but that cant be a real option.

    As an aside – above and beyond program progress – i have real concerns of coach’s game management. it has gotten a bit better this year with a grown-up on the bench, where they finally do off/def subs at the end of a game, but still, its a concern. Our margin of error cant handle bad decisions.

  • bandcat

    LTP you hit it for me with the indictment….Young coaches with families with midwest ties should be very interested in NU. Pressure to win yes. Pressure to win Final Fours BCS Championships every 2 or three years NO. Realistically…..The football and mens basketball programs need to be consistent winners sprinkled with NCAA appearances and some Bowl wins. This day and age not an impossible task.. Stability for the coahes and Happiness for fans…Sports Illustrated cover with Fitz and Stevens titled Fire and Ice….oooh just dreaming!!! Nothing ventured nothing gained Dr. Jim…..

  • Cats15

    Oregon State’s Craig Robinson? Hasn’t been overwhelmingly successful there (19-14 this season) but OSU is similar to Northwestern in terms of inherent challenges: try getting blue-chip recruits to come to Corvallis, especially when the few in-state talents can be lured by Nike U. He was pretty successful as a head coach at Brown, and before that had a nice career at Princeton under Carrill, which would make him very familiar with the types of sets the current team runs. Those experiences, combined with the fact that he’s from Chicago, should make NU attractive to him. Perhaps his greatest asset, though, is his brother-in-law: the President. He and Hardy could really work that connection in Chicago and across the country when going after the type of talent that Carmody to this point has been unable to get.

  • NUCat_TX

    Extend Carmody’s contract one year per win in the NIT this year.

    Why not? More fun march madness!

  • KC-cat

    Cat15, you do know Craig Robinson was an assistant coach at NU for 6 years under Carmody? So, yes, he’s very familiar with NU. ;)

    With that said, it is not a bad suggestion, better than other ones I have seen on this blog like Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens.

    I am torn on getting rid of Carmody. He has his positives and negatives. And I get the value of bringing in someone new with a fresh perspective but still understands the inherent challenges NU has (being a student-athlete at NU, admissions, weather, etc.) But, people are underestimating the desirability of the NU job and the setback the program will face if we “shoot for the stars” and miss.

    I sure hope Phillips has someone he knows will take the job in advance who he believes is an upgrade to CArmody. Otherwise, this will cause more harm than good. Personally, I like the idea of designating Tavaras “coach-in-waiting” for one last year of Carmody and then let him take over in 2013-2014.

    It is a win-win…Carmody gets the respect he deserves for helping turn around the program post Kevin O’Neill, but more importantly, the recruiting “momentum” we have (what little there is but it’s more than we had since Rex Walters) is preserved and Hardy can work on his Xs and Os for the next 12 months. Not to mention the players clearly like Hardy and can relate to him as he played at NU.