Honest Assessment

welsh ryan

Repeat after me. This is not a knee-jerk reaction post to yesterday’s embarassing home loss to Illinois. It is not a call for Carmody’s whistle. Read that again, please.

Let’s face it. The ‘Cats were downright brutal yesterday in a runaway train wreck of a game that saw a 19-15 game escalate in to a blowout that felt like multiple losses in one game.  Today, isn’t about yesterday’s 62-41 (possibly most misleading score of the year along with Ohio State loss) “L”.  No, I’d like to spend some time focusing on the bigger of what it is going to take to change things for Northwestern to get to the next level, which let’s say for the sake of argument is a of .500 conference record team.  Simply put, what does the program need to do to become a NCAA Tourney level team year in and year out?

Teddy Greenstein used the Sunday Chicago Tribune sports section as a platform to ask this question in the context of Bill Carmody’s future at Northwestern. While each of the quotes Teddy secured from B1G coaches (or B1G coaches thoughts as told to BTN/WGN analyst Tim Doyle)like Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and the Illini’s John Groce fall under the guise of “fans wanting change have no clue how hard it is at Northwestern”, I’d like to focus on some of that part.   I’d love to see Teddy expand upon his parenthetical, which was mentioned as part of the description in disparity between NU competition specifically around facilities:

 

Welsh-Ryan Arena last was renovated in 1983, creating a gap in facilities between Northwestern and the schools it recruits against (Wisconsin, Butler) that’s like comparing the Bellagio to a Motel 6. (The scoreboard, the concessions, the bench seating, the poorly-paved parking lot …)” – Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune – February 17, 2013

 

Facilities is indeed a major piece of the equation.  But, it’s not the only one. Teddy and I exchanged tweets yesterday on this article as I don’t put too much stock in opposing coaches publicly praising another coach to stay put.  There are so many side angles to that it will take up a full other post. The public posturing by Northwestern opponents feels borderline patronizing and slightly embarassing. I trust Teddy. He’s a solid reporter and a straight-forward guy.  When he tells me this sentiment is authentic, I believe him. However, instead of John Groce getting so frustrated about the question (he was the one who said “People have no idea” and then walked away according to the article), I want to invite him to a roundtable discussion.

Jim Phillips and the Northwestern administration may very well have a plan in place to address the facilities. However, with the full court press on finding donors for the $225 Million Ryan Fieldhouse lakeside project, mum is the word on when and what as it relates to the Atari-era arena that I love.  Let’s acknowledge that a facilities overhaul is a giant box to be checked. But, what else?

I happen to have several friends in the college basketball community.  As you can imagine, I am often able to steer the conversation to get Northwestern basketball in to the mix.  Inevitably the perception of the job is one of the greatest barriers in their minds. Yes, facilities, but also leniency in academics and the cold, hard truth about the way things work in major college basketball. Newsflash, it gets dirty. Any Northwestern fan trying to glaze over these topics seems like an apologist (“I’d rather do things the right way and lose, then the wrong way and win”).  When a future coach-to-be comes for an interview, you can bet the list of demands will rival Santa Claus’ naughty/nice scroll.

What would a task force combining the likes of Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim, Coach K, Brad Stevens, Shaka Smart and insert your favorite up and coming assistant coaches look like if the subject matter was a seminar on “Making Northwestern A Perennial NCAA Tourney Team”? You’d be naive to think that Jim Phillips hasn’t had these very same conversations with the movers and shakers in the industry.  Wouldn’t you love to see a transparent conversation about this? A truly honest assessment of the program and an open-minded fixer-upper collaboration? Obviously, any B1G coach has nothing to gain by helping Northwestern as it only can come back to hurt them.  However, this sentiment of sympathy from other coaches is what rubs me the wrong way the most. I’m tired of sympathy. Let’s talk about solutions. Let’s talk about what you and I can do to help. Let’s talk about it honestly.

Women’s Hoops Gets “W”

Congratulations to the Northwestern women’s hoops team for their 70-63 win at Minnesota yesterday.  The women’s record (12-13,4-8)  is nearly identical to the men’s at this point, a major disappointment in my book. However, the ‘Cats have been playing their best basketball of the season in recent weeks.

Purple Mafia Tidbits From NBA All-Star Weekend

Thanks to Willie W. for passing along these links. Northwestern alum and TNT sideline reporter, Craig Sager, earned the ribbing of Celtic’s star Kevin Garnett for his “Christmas ornament” suit this weekend.  Also, Wildcat alum and Houston Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, will be getting a contract extension. Daryl, you are due for the Purple Mafia treatment! Morey has the rebuilding Rockets currently in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference should the season end today.

 

 

  • Noah Kimmel

    Agreed–I would love to have an open round table. Heck, put Carmody in it and Fitz and Wilbon. Bring together coaches, players, students, and experts from other schools. Lets make a strategy to be in the Tourney in 5 years without compromising academic, values, or our NU DNA. We can do it! Northwestern prides itself on transparency and fan intimacy and treating Athletics like any other part of the university–a community-building, learning experience. There is no downside to a public conversation.

    As for facilities, I was at the Comcast arena in Everett, Wa this past weekend for a minor league hockey game. For a space the size of Welsh-Ryan, the venue looked 100000x better. There is no reason we cant make Welsh-Ryan a fantasic new arena with good seats, premium box suites, etc. while maintaining its small, intimate, sell-out, loud atmosphere. I would love to see the student section bleachers remain, and replace everything else around them. Sadly, without some on-court success, NU is unlikely to announce any plans.

  • CatAlum06

    One question I’ve had that no one ever talks about, how different is the student-athlete experience of a basketball player versus a football player? Fitz builds his football team up as a family that does their “work” slightly apart from the rest of the student population. This clearly works for a lot of football programs; I’m not sure the same type of pitch works for basketball recruits, but I don’t know. I’ve never got the sense of a Northwestern basketball “family” in any real way. What kind of experience is Carmody&co. trying to sell to kids?

  • cece

    “….the poorly paved parking lot….” why is this a men’s basketball issue? though it’s easy to rip on that lot, it’s a minor facilities issue. actually, one that could be taken care of pretty fast, that is, unless they no longer want that lot to be a ground surface lot instead part of something more. that would certainly affect the fan experience for tailgates in a negative way. what’s up with the lot?

  • MustHaveNewCoach

    People can make excuses about injuries, etc., but it’s beyond old. Every year there’s another excuse — “We’re so close. We ALMOST made the tourney.” I’m sure Carmody is a great person and a very smart basketball mind. However, I’m still dumbfounded as to how he has retained his job these past few years. Repeat after me: Until Carmody is gone, this program is not going anywhere — with or without facilities. Even fully healthy, the program far from being consistently competitive. Sneak into an NCAA tourney, MAYBE. But long-term consistently competitive with the big boys, no way. The health of the program is even clearer when you compare it to football. Bring in a new, young coach with passion who can reenergize the program. Someone who doesn’t spend 25% of the game flailing his hands or stomping around like he can’t believe a kid just missed a 30-footer.

    • Will

      Once again a post that glosses over reality. RE: “excuses about injuries”.

      There is NO team in the BIG that can overcome the loss of 3-4 starters/multiple reserves and compete consistently at a high level, let alone NU with the restrictions LTP mentioned. The fact we’ve pulled out 4 wins and were right there with some top 15 squads is pretty incredible given the circumstances.

      Fans exaggerate wins AND losses.

      “Even fully healthy, the program far from being consistently competitive. Sneak into an NCAA tourney, MAYBE.”

      While I think that may be slightly pessimistic, I’ll go along with it. If you think it’s possible to as you put it “sneak into the tourney” (which would require at least a 9-9 record in conference), then we will be, as you hoped, consistently competitive. Therefore, I don’t understand your critique. No coach has been able to do that. Not EVER. So if you don’t think that achievement is worth keeping Carmody around I don’t know what to say.

      History is one of our biggest obstacles. Once we get into the NCAAs the doors in recruiting will begin to open. With some actual facilities, they probably would be open already (but that’s traditionally not the way NU operates).

    • bd005

      Uhm, a Kentucky team full of 5-star recruits may not make the Tourney this year.
      And where was FB the [ast 4 years before this year? Pretty much the same as BB – going to the postseason and losing (at least BB won postseason games before this season).
      As for injuries, you think the FB team would have done what it did this season if it had lost 4-5 of its top players?
      Heck, look how the FB team collapsed after they lost ONE player, Persa a couple of years ago.

  • wcgrad

    Two names for this round table:

    (Big John) John Thompson Jr. and John Thompson III. The first has the experience of turning around a no-name basketball team into a national brand. The second manages to recruit great talent (without playing dirty) to play in a princeton-like “system”. All the while the players stay mostly out of trouble while in school and graduate. Some even finish their degrees while playing in the NBA.

    Look no further than Georgetown as a proxy for what Northwestern hoops can aspire to, right down to the tensions with the surrounding municipality, academic restrictions, and (prior to 1980) lack of tradition.

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Love this line of thinking.

    • Richard

      GTown doesn’t have nearly the same academic requirements for its basketball players that NU does. Wasn’t there a GTown bball player with a sub-600 SAT score?

  • VACAT

    Lake the Posts –

    You’re right! It’s time for a discussion and honest assessment.

    But let’s face it – you won’t get the administration to talk publicly about it. Look at how they kept ‘mum’ on the facilities plan for two years.

    I’m laughing how everyone thinks the Northwestern community is open and transparent. I actually think the administration is pretty closed and tight knit. Just the opposite. You won’t get Phillips or Morty on this board to open up about this topic. You know it and I know it.

    You know, until leadership happens here, nothing is going to get better. Leadership means that the NU administration needs to lay out a vision for the basketball programs. It’s a multiyear process, but right now there is no vision, no mission, no direction how we are going to get this done. A mission will show the world commitment. Once we have the vision of where we want to be and the things we will need to do, we execute on the plan. Simple as that.

    Until this happens, no big improvement and feeling like we’re heading in the right direction.

    Right now it feels like we are adrift in the middle of the ocean with no wind in our sails and no idea where we are.

    Pretty sad, isn’t it?

    • CatAlum06

      I think you’re being naive to think at a school like Northwestern would have no vision for their athletic program. Don’t you think JPhillips has a performance review every year? Do you think he’s just trying to ride low in the saddle and skim by? Doesn’t pass the smell test IMHO. We aren’t stockholders in Northwestern and he doesn’t owe us a mission statement that he’s accountable to. We get only a small vote, but I think LTP has made it clear that Jim will listen to us. Let’s not over-state our role in this!

      • Wildcattack!

        While I don’t expect Phillips and company to report out in extenuating detail on their plans, we as alums, fans, and donors are the equivalent of stockholders to the University. As the Northwestern brand rises and falls so does the value of the degree(s) that we earned. As our teams’ fortunes rise and fall so does the sense of camaraderie among alums who gather for games; there are many more interested alums when our teams are winning. Finally, the University asks us to give annually. The dividends we receive are non-monetary, but to expect that the administration reports out on their vision is entirely fair-game.

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      I’m with CatAlum06 on this one, VACat. It is an overstatement, in my opinion, to think that there is a lack of leadership simply because the fan base doesn’t know what it is. Phillips clearly has a vision of the program and when you talk to him you get that sense. He’s just overhauled the entire development team at NU and it is a much more professional approach then it was. He has a vision, mission and set of values for all 19 sports and then at each sport level. It’s not for him to share with us if he doesn’t care to, just like a CEO doesn’t need to share the intricacies of the vision with the consumer.
      To your point, I do believe there would be value in sharing it with the fans, as so many of us want to help and contribute to the vision that aligns NU basketball success in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the reputation of the school.

      • VACAT

        LTP

        Ok, I’ll bite.

        And I mean this in a sincere way. What is the vision , mission and initiatives to make NU a more consistent BBall winner and tourney team.

        ‘Cause I sure don’t know what it is.

        Respectfully.

    • cece

      spot on about the lack of open and transparent. it’s certainly not at Vatican level, but it is a very closed society at NU. and I disagree with LTP that things are better. they certainly are different. in a corporate speak on steroids sort of way.

  • NCat99

    LTP,

    I may be in the minority, but I think this subject is entirely over-analyzed: I think Carmody does a good to very good job recruiting given the hurdles he must overcome. Do I think someone else could do better? Probably, but that is a subjective and uneducated opinion.

    I truly think the primary obstacle to NU become a “two of every three years” tourney team is Carmody the motivator and Carmody the X & Os guy. In other words, take the same recruiting landscape and give me someone who can get more out of the players he recruits, and I think we’re there.

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      You may be right. I do tend to overanalyze things!

  • Mark

    There is really no transparency from NU regarding its athletics’ programs and facilities as compared to the rest of the Big Ten. This is primarily due to the fact that it’s a private institution and is not subject to the same state FOIA/Open Records Act statutes as are the public universities. No one can even get the most basic information from NU, e.g., how many of last year’s new season football tickets were sold to Nebraska residents, how many season tickets bought in 2010 – Wrigley year – were renewed in 2011, how much is spent on basketball recruitment, etc. Without that type of information even investigative reporters would have difficulty making any solid analysis of what is, what’s wrong, and what could be done. But coach, facility, recruitment of fans from the student body, etc. are all key factors in moving the program to perennial contenders for NCAA tournament selection.

  • bandcat

    I just wonder sometimes how hard a sell the Princeton Offense is to the high school players of this era? Any thoughts on this from Teddy or others you have talked to LTP. If Carmody is the man selling it he should be the pointman recruiting for it.

  • Richard

    One question is consider is whether it’s harder for NU to get to .500 in league play in basketball vs. football.
    I have reasons for thinking that it is..
    1. It seems that recruiting in basketball is more sleazy. Maybe it’s the same for the very best players, but it seems that even just getting above average talent may require more shady practices in basketball than in football.
    2. Success in basketball seems much more determined by sheer talent. It’s no secret that NU football recruiting has been in the bottom half of the B10 (and usually in the bottom quartile) since forever. However, it seems that it is easier to utilize “diamonds in the rough” in football; guys like Venric Mark who is quick but was rated poorly as a prospect because he’s small. It seems much harder for an undersized but quick guy in basketball to make the impact that Mark has made in football.
    That said, I do wonder if maybe NU has a coach with the wrong system (and I do believe that you’d need a system coach to win with the talent that NU can get). A Bo Ryan with his swing offense and position defense may work better with the type of guys that NU can get (who meet our academic standards): preferably big (if slow) guys who can make jump shots, hustle back on defense, and rarely make positional/mental mistakes.

    • PB Cat

      I just had a long conversation with one of my old college buddies about this subject yesterday, while walking around the seniors golf tournament down here in Florida. We both went to Michigan State, and my friend’s daughter s went to Notre dame on a athletic scholarship. The discussion was basically how can Northwestern go to bowl game every year and have such success in football while it continues to struggle to get to the NCAA in basketball. He said well Mike Brey came up to Grand Rapids and told the ND club, that out of the top 100 players in the country ND had to forget about 70 of them right away because of academics and that made it tough to be in the NCAA’s every year. Well if your NU the number is more like 80 out of 100 and therein lies a large part of the problem.
      When, I was young the great players in Illinois came from downstate and the suburbs. Places like Galesburg, Moline, Pekin, Mount Vernon, Collinsville, and my home town Harvey. now it’s an inter city game and honestly it’s tough to get these guys into NU, coming from inter city schools and there academic problems, which are well documented. Carmody himself said he just can’t get these guys in.

      • PB Cat

        In a continuation of my above post, in football it just the opposite. The predominant number of player come from the outlying areas, the suburbs and the Catholic schools where the academics are much better and you can get the guys in.
        As a side note I have been a basketball season ticket holer for 22 years, but I’m now down here from February on. I want you to know I did sell my tickets for this month to guys in town who are NU fans. None of this orange stuff in my seats.

      • Richard

        PB Cat:
        That’s another good point. In Chicagoland, at least, the Chicago public schools, while they can turn out top talent, just don’t have great football teams, so kids who want to win something in football would gravitate to the parochial schools (many of whom provide scholarships). They also get a safe environment for learning and good academics. Top basketball players wouldn’t have the same motivation. This leads to a bigger pool of kids for NU football compared to NU basketball.

      • bd005

        Making a “lesser” bowl game is the equivalent of making the NIT; esp. since the B1G has been down in FB and probably the best conf. in BB over the past few years.

  • nubobby95

    Say what you will, but Carmody is the problem. You don’t get major facility renovations without success. We don’t have the right guy selling the vision or creating one for that matter in charge of the basketball program. Not sure if it was last year or the year before when Carmody was part of the coaches caravan that NU put on when Carmody refused to answere a simple question from a donor/fan. Fitz is out there selling a vision, creating a culture, and building a brand. Our NU Basketball brand is average talent average results and no

    • Nubobby95

      Tourney

    • Will

      “You don’t get major facility renovations without success.”

      That’s simply not true. Many schools build infrastructure in hopes of luring promising coaches and recruits. It’s just not the NU way.

      The GB stuff is silly. It’s like a lottery winner telling a friend “All you have to do is win once!”

      • Nubobby95

        When has NU ever invested without success? That is not the way this administration works or has ever worked. It took back to back Big 10 championships to get Dyche renovated. It’s going to take significant pressure from donors to get something done proactively.

        • Will

          “When has NU ever invested without success? That is not the way this administration works or has ever worked.”

          I agree and like I said, that’s the problem. Firing our best coach in a half a century isn’t the answer (at least not right now). The only way to make this thing work (without hitting the lottery aka “GB of basketball”) is the long arduous grind we are on. The talent and depth are there next year. I can’t wait to see the results.

          • Will

            (without hitting the lottery aka “GB of basketball”)

            Or getting first class facilities. Hell, even average BIG facilities.

            Left out the obvious.

          • DT

            Will- you are a thrill.. Were you the guy camping out in front of the ticket office last year for the best NIT Tickets?

  • skepticat

    Really don’t get this post. It’s embarrassing and patronizing for other coaches to comment about how hard it is to win here, but perfectly reasonable to get them all together in a roundtable to figure out “How to we _fix_ NU basketball?” I can see the headline now: “NU to world: tell us how to win!” What on earth would anybody not affiliated with the university have any business saying anything relevant about our basketball program? How to take this as anything but knee-jerk is beyond me.

    The season in one sentence: BC needs walk-ons to field a full roster as a result of injuries and a suspension.

    Not to mention there appears to be a pretty wide disconnect between the priorities of the administration and the sentiments expressed by many in these comment sections. How do I know? Cause Jim Phillips himself has said so:

    “Only two things matter at Northwestern: academics and NCAA compliance. ‘It’s not about winning championships,’ [Phillips] said.”
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303936704576400052122863390.html

    And there’s your real pickle: how do you frame a discussion about prioritizing winning (especially by lowering standards) within the context of an administration that emphasizes academics and compliance over all else?

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Actually, Phillips did NOT SAY that. If you re-read the article, it clearly states that’s what he was told when he took the job – “Phillips, the athletic director, said that when he was called about the job he
      was told that only two things matter at Northwestern: academics and NCAA
      compliance. “It’s not about winning championships,” he said”

      Jim is about winning – the right way. Anyone who spends even a lunch with him knows this or will know it. This post was to take the conversation to a higher level, hence the caveat that it isn’t about Bill. If anything, it was reactionary to Teddy’s article yesterday. I’d love your thoughts now that the smoking gun piece of your argument was misstated.

      • skepticat

        How is that distinction at all important? If the article can be believed, the administration expressed their expectations, priorities, and requirements for the job when hiring Jim, and since he has the job and doesn’t appear to be interested in leaving, I’m assuming he’s firmly on board with that vision. Why would he call attention to that fact in the article if he didn’t buy into it himself? Do you think his priorities are other than what his superiors have established for him in performing his job?

        And where did I say he’s not into winning? I only pointed out that winning is, at best, 3rd among his priorities. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, only that there are other things that are more so. Consequently, it seems likely that those who want winning to be placed above those other priorities are wasting their breath.

        Granted, I’ve never had lunch him and am only going off of what I read in articles and their presumed accuracy. But if we’re really interested in “elevating the discussion” and bringing some transparency into the administration’s priorities that others claim is lacking, perhaps you could ask him some of this stuff the next time you do? Or even better, bring him on the blog for an interview?

        But honestly, I don’t see this existential crisis that you seem to be implying here, in basketball or otherwise. Everybody claims Carmody has peaked, though I don’t necessarily buy that: 9 years into his tenure, he’s put together the 3 most successful seasons after in basketball history (coincidentally(?) coinciding with Phillips’s hire); this year has been derailed by an abnormal amount of injuries. I just don’t see him getting fired against that backdrop. The football team just put together it’s third 10-win season and 2nd-ever bowl win in its most successful half-decade ever. The lacrosse team is in the midst of a dynasty. A raft of other programs (men’s soccer, softball, men’s golf, women’s fencing, women’s tennis and wrestling), have all recently made the post-season or brought home Big Ten championships. Despite all the lamenting, football ticket sales are way up in a recessionary economy, as is corporate sponsorship. And the Wall Street journal recently ranked us the 35th most valuable program in all of college sports. If anything, we seem to be in a golden age of NU athletics.
        http://www.nusports.com/genrel/011113aaa.html
        http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/2011-08-03/wildcats-extend-phillips-contract
        http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20121230/BLOGS04/121239999/northwestern-names-new-athletic-complex-ryan-fieldhouse
        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324391104578225802183417888.html

        Seems to me, other programs should be asking us how to win.

        • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

          Fair points. I’m not talking about anything other than basketball, as I think we’ve established all the positives that have gone on in football, marketing etc…

    • CatFanSeattle

      Agreed, do you really think Tom Izzo want’s to see NU turn into Duke?? All the praise from other coaches is just the typical “circle the wagons” mentality amongst the coaching fraternity. They almost never criticize another coach. Winning at NU is simple: better facilities and a better coach. Besides, isn’t what LTP is proposing something along the lines of “let’s hire a bunch of outside consultants and form a committee?!”

  • Jimgocats93

    Panel??
    I don’t think so.
    If you want to interview someone the Thompson/Georgetown is a great suggestion by wcgrad. How about Patino at Louisville? But the truth is Jim Phillips is doing an outstanding job and Welsh-Ryan will be fixed in due time.
    Some thoughts to consider:
    W/R is bigger that Cameron at Duke.

    It’s guts need to be fixed as well as the concessions. And the blue seats must go.
    Practice areas improved
    And we as fans need to get in the game. (the place is deafening when only half full) I don’t mean just noise when things are going well – I mean getting on officials and fighting for home town calls.
    Also, can we stop using the term “Princeton Offense”! It causes people to immediately reference slow which is not true. It does facilitate control of the pace of play, but we were scoring in the 80′s last year based on talent that could stay healthy.

    As to football versus basketball – the scholarship limit was the most impactful item in NU’s ability to be successful. But basketball only takes a handfull, and those handfull’s at schools with NCAA minimum guidelines will kill us on a talent scale.(who on Illinois could get into NU?)

    So as boring as it sounds, I believe we are still headed in the right direction. And the wise move was to bring in staff to help recruit. – Done!

    But at NU we will always need the Reggie Hearn’s of the world who hustle. Defense and rebounding are about desire and attitude.
    I think if we can keep 10 scholarship players healthy we can make the dance.

    A bunch to get off my chest – but I have been quiet for quite a while.

    GoCatsGo!

  • DarkSide

    Don’t business school types have to do case studies to try and turn around struggling entities? Get some Kellogg students to analyze the program and figure out what it will take to turn it around. After Gary Barnett took the ‘Purple to Pasadena’, I truly have embraced the mantra ‘nothing is impossible’. Nothing is impossible for Northwestern. We can and we will succeed in basketball. Go ‘Cats

    • http://www.northwesternmix.com/ NUMBSpiritLeader

      +1. What harm could come of this?

  • Alum Dad

    Embarrassing effort last night. I realize the team is extremely short-handed at the moment, but come on. Also embarrassing was the way the place was packed with orange-clad fans. I’m afraid this is all we are going to get under the current regime. Hard to win when you are constantly out-recruited, out-coached and out-played.

  • hongkong cat

    I’m don’t think what other coaches say about Bill Carmody is about sympathy at all. Its subtrifuge, not sympathy. When they say things like “they have no idea how hard it is at Northwestern” they are reinforcing a destructive narrative that – true or not – the program is fundamentally not structured to win. And this makes it very hard to attract good recruits. I’d say the same thing in their shoes, but not out of sympathy. I’d say it to keep NU from becoming competitive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000338310444 Stephanie Cubsfan

    We need to clone Fitz and inject the clone with the same amount of basketball savvy Fitz has with football.

  • NUProf

    First time poster, long time reader:
    I end up defending BC at the games, at my bball league, at parties – even though I freely admit he is far from perfect. The defense: First, he is the most successful basketball coach at NU, ever. Second, he is an outstanding basketball mind — both at the offensive and defensive ends. Third, he (Tavaras) is recruiting a much higher caliber of players than he or anyone else has here. Forth, the well-noted limits on recruiting (poor facilities, academic standards, no winning culture/NCAA success), ABYSMAL FAN SUPPORT) limits his possibilities for recruiting the small cadre of academically possible athletes. It’s not about the style of offense, its about the wins and the glory for the kids. When the student sections are less than half full for Illinois, and the good seats are half full of orange, who would want to play here?
    The negative: That all being said, he is definitely not a positive, cheer leading type who you want to invite over for dinner with the family and a drink afterwords. Another coach who is a more positive or negative motivator “may” be able to do better with all these limits on recruiting success. Football is a totally different sport and the combined team can more often make up for the deficiencies of individual players. I hear that WR renovations will follow the building of the new lakeshore facility so there is room to expand the footprint. If I were Jim Phillips (and had a great supply of starched white shirts), I would give BC the extra 3 years to try to get it done and then have him gracefully retire after the 2016 season as the most sucessful NU bball coach. Then the new stadium and the new (and hopefully) improved CATs will be up to this mythical new wondercoach. My two cents.

    • GTom

      Can people please stop calling Carmody “the most successful basketball coach at Northwestern, ever”? Look up Arthur Lonborg. Yeah, it was a long time ago and an entirely different game, but he had a very successful record at NU. Let’s not diminish what he accomplished by unfair comparisons to Carmody.

      • DT

        Good to hear from you G Tom– in a great cause defending the legacy of Arthur Lonborg no less.. I’ll be looking forward to your spirited defense of Dick Hanley when the Up With Fitz crowd starts beating the drum about his being the most successful football coach in NU History as they no doubt will soon after beating Cal…

        Keep an eye on SMU next year… June Jones has got that “O” primed..

        :-)

      • http://twitter.com/buckyor Bucky

        By far, no less. . . .

  • NUinVa

    At a game watch in September, I was sitting next to Shaka Smart. I coolly turned to him and asked “Is your wife watching the NU game?”

    I’ve got ways to run into him again. If I do, I’ll be sure to ask about how to get the NU program to the next level…

    • DT

      Better yet, ask him what his buyout clause reads and if he is familiar with Pat Ryan..

  • DT

    Izzo and Groce would be shitting their knickers if Shaka Smart were Head Coach at NU… Every coach in the Big Ten realizes a mediocre program at NU is potentially 1-2 victories more per year on the way to the NCAA Tourney and higher RPI.. Survival skills in college hoops coaching and recruiting suggests keeping the marginal- marginal.. With Coach Carmody, Big Ten coaches who sing his praises do just that… Shaka Smart was THE fit in that he and his wife know NU and the culture.. No better young coach in the game, including Brad Stevens, who as a Butler fan, I feel is great… Smart is the better fit than Stevens nonetheless.

    Net/net, this comments section was lit up with folks calling for Phillips to make a bold move and flip the situation in hoops forward about this time last year.. I’m still laughing about a comment provider, ‘The Bluestone Baller” and his imploring LTP to interview Carmody and ask some tough questions, ala when can you make the NCAA Tourney! Seriously, Coach Carmody has done some good things while here… Give him his props, a nice severance and move the needle with a good hire.. Real simple.. Don’t over intellectualize it LTP.. A new coach with huge upside ala Shaka Smart makes all your facility and monetary aspirations related to hoops all that much more attainable.. Maybe, even transparent..

    On to spring football and the further adventures of Coach Fitz and Company… The Kool Aid hopefully will have stopped flowing by then on this blog as well.. Starting to think the Gator Bowl was The Rose Bowl with some of the self congratulatory tone and hyperbole here the last couple months.. Good win.. Now for something great.. Go Cats..

    • bd005

      All the B1G coaches think that Carmody being on the “hot seat” is crazy talk.

      And why would Shaka Smart come to NU when he didn’t want to go to Illinois?

      A job where it is much easier to recruit and win.

      • DT

        The other Big Ten coaches are concerned about one “Hot Seat”.. The one they might inhabit for say 13 years of not making the NCAA Tournament.. Why NU over Illinois? Start with his wife’s history and affinity for the school, an urban location and chance to live in one of the most desirable and affluent areas in the country in a 5-10 minute commute to his office. I’d suggest greater Savoy or Rantoul might not have that going as part of the sales pitch? The fact Smart spent summers on The North Shore and grew up in Wisconsin might give him some level of appreciation as well.. That, and the specter of new facilities and media coverage in the nations #3 market… Last time I checked, Cham/Dec/Spingfld. was what, #75 or so? Need a few more reasons why NU might be preferable to U of I?

        • bd005

          That’s fine and all, but most of those things apply for other CBB coaches as well and it isn’t like they are jumping at the chance to coach at NU.

          And SSmart isn’t stupid; he’s going to do what’s best for his career and that means not coaching at NU, esp, if NU doesn’t invest in its facilities and give him more academic leeway for recruiting.

          At VCU, Smart has recruited mostly 3* players (which is what Carmody is getting these days) along with 2 4* recruits in the 2012 class. One 4* is averaging 6.8 pts/gm (about what Olah is averaging and the other has not played this season.

          For the 2013 class, VCU has three 3* recruits.

          Same goes for Brad Stevens at Butler.

          • NUmanager

            I agree to DT 100%. Although I’d be stunned if Smart came to NU, I don’t think it’s impossible. I was working at the NCAAs when they blew out Georgetown in the 2nd RD and was listening to his post game presser when he said that Chicago was his favorite city.

            People seem to forget how much the landscape has changed in college sports in the last 13 years. Doing a straight comparison between BC to our past coaches in my opinion doesn’t acknowledge the new assets that BC has at his disposal now.

            NU’s reputation as a national university has changed. More and more HS kids see the recruiting process as a business decision that will effect the rest of their lives. Kids choose the Ivy League over better basketball offers all the time. And that’s with no scholarship $$. We should get those kids every time. Those kids exist and the exist in much greater numbers than they did 15 years ago.

            Facilities would be great, but it’s not the only factor in kids minds in 2013. And we’ve seen this at NU. For an increasing # of kids (including Shurna, Sina, Crawford, Demps, etc) it’s clearly not a deciding factor. What we haven’t seen is results.

          • DT

            Well said, Manager…

        • Will

          “Why NU over Illinois? Start with his wife’s history and affinity for the
          school, an urban location and chance to live in one of the most
          desirable and affluent areas in the country in a 5-10 minute commute to
          his office. I’d suggest greater Savoy or Rantoul might not have that
          going as part of the sales pitch? The fact Smart spent summers on The
          North Shore and grew up in Wisconsin might give him some level of
          appreciation as well.. That, and the specter of new facilities and media
          coverage in the nations #3 market… Last time I checked,
          Cham/Dec/Spingfld. was what, #75 or so? Need a few more reasons why NU
          might be preferable to U of I?”

          Even more crazy talk! Yes! Yes! Yes!

    • Will

      “Shaka Smart was THE fit in that he and his wife know NU and the
      culture.. No better young coach in the game, including Brad Stevens, who
      as a Butler fan, I feel is great… Smart is the better fit than
      Stevens nonetheless.”

      Yes! More crazy talk!

  • royko

    Since taking my wife (a Michigan alum) to a game at Welsh-Ryan, she continues to mock our “Lite-Brite” scoreboard. I’m all for an upgrade. (I don’t think that alone will address our problems.

    I think there’s gonna have to be a coaching change. That’s not to slag Carmody — he has certainly improved the program. But we need a perception change, and he’s been here too long without getting that breakthrough to be able make people believe he can do it. I just think his window has closed.

  • bd005

    Until this season, BB and FB were pretty comparable – both making the post-season 4 times in a row (granted, one of FB’s postseason appearances may have been better than the NIT, but not if you count the post-season wins in BB, esp. alost making it to Madison Garden).

    And the B1G has undeniably been much tougher in BB than FB over the past 4-5 years.

    This season, the gridiron ‘Cats have done better, but they largely escaped the injury bug and had an easier B1G schedule w/ a no. of B1G teams being down and not facing dOSU or UW.

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Minnesota1000
Purdue1000
Iowa1000
Nebraska1000
Illinois1000
Northwestern0100
Wisconsin0100

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Rutgers1000
Penn State1000
Michigan1000
Michigan State1000
Ohio State1000
Indiana1000
Maryland1000