There isn’t a whole lot of good news going on in Northwestern basketball circles. Reggie Hearn is out for tonight’s game against Michigan joining a laundry list of players who are already out (Cobb, Crawford, Cerina, Lumpkin) and ones that are still playing injured (Marcotullio). It really is unbelievable. So, we’ll talk hoops in a moment, but let’s get to some happy thoughts, first.
With all of the Gator Bowl postgame commentary, there were several items I overlooked and feel compelled to mention. In no particular order:
- Northwestern Alumni Association tailgate – In a word, it was stunning. Nearly 1,000 people crammed the floor of the basketball arena adjacent to EverBank Field. The overhead scoreboard was Northwestern-ized and featured highlights constantly along with playing a role in the impact of the lakefront facility as they featured a 3-minute video to inspire the fans and potential donors. The ribbonboards were purple with “Northwestern Wildcats” signage and vertical banners featuring several players and Fitz hung from the ceiling and added a great touch. The spread was downright silly with a coffee and juice station that was the biggest I’ve ever seen and mutliple food stations with anything you could want. It was the best one I’ve seen yet. Congratulations to all involved.
- NGN Tailgate – many fans I met raved about how fantastic this tailgate was. I heard there were about 400-500 people and they had screens set-up with the games and all kinds of food and beverage. I didn’t get to attend as I didn’t know about it, but it got RAVE reviews from everyone that told me about it.
- EverBank Field Hospitality – The folks working the event could not have been nicer. They were everywhere and extremely friendly and courteous. When we won and the fans exited hooting and hollering they egged us on and were even nicer.
- Mississippi State fans – Wow. I don’t think I’ve met a more courteous group of folks, especially after a game that we won. It was downright incredible how many maroon clad fans congratulated us and said “you deserved it” and the like. I was extremely impressed and am confident that many of you had the same experience.
- Jim Phillips without a tie – Yes, I saw it, with my own two eyes. After the game our AD was back at the Hyatt and soaking in the win with Morty, family and friends and he was wearing a Northwestern sweatshirt. I told him it was the very first time I’d seen him without a tie. Moments before, being the class act that he is, he grabbed me by the shoulders and said “this win was for you and every fan like you who has supported us so passionately”. He was emotional about it and so was I.
Rodger Sherman from SippinOnPurple did a neat “multimedia” lens on NU in the wake of our win featuring front page headlines, recaps and the like which you can see here. It includes ESPN clips, YouTube videos and even a neat screen grab showing Northwestern was trending on Twitter at the end of the game.
When you end a 63-year streak in anything it gets you all kinds of national ink. When you are the lone winner for the conference on New Year’s Eve it also gets you some attention. Here are a few of them:
- ESPN’s Mike Greenberg hosting Fitz on the Mike & Mike Show yesterday. Click HERE.
- Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal gives the ‘Cats all kinds of love while panning the B1G in the same piece.
- ESPN.com’s Brian Bennett gave the NU secondary a helmet sticker in the wake of the B1G bowl games.
- The Florida Times-Union’s Garry Smits, who followed NU all week, was gushing about the program and the moment that he was able to enjoy with the ‘Cats after the win.
- You likely read it, but Teddy’s postgame piece was excellent with the greatest detail ever on a demolished monkey. Click here.
Send me more as I’m sure they are still floating out there!
Northwestern (9-4) vs #2 Michigan (12-0) – Tonight 6pm ct ESPN2
A win by Northwestern tonight and Carmody should get a contract extension. The ‘Cats don’t really have much of a prayer now that Reggie Hearn will be added to the DNP-INJ list. Hearn tweaked his ankle in the Stanford game and has yet to practice since. Sanjay Lumpkin is now out for the year with a wrist injury and Nikola Cerina (medical redshirt please?) is still out injured as he has been since game one. The ‘Cats are running out of bodies with Drew Crawford and JerShonn Cobb already out for the year.
Northwestern has lost 41 straight against top five teams dating all the way back to the incredible win over Magic Johnson’s national championship team in 1979. Michigan is off to the program’s second best start in school history and simply has too much manpower with three future NBA players likely having significant mismatches when they go head to head. Northwestern plays five of its first seven games against Top 11 teams and by that point we could be in really big trouble.