Fired Bill Carmody: March 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Northwestern loses again

well, indirectly. remember this guy? Northern Iowa was just knocked out by Purdue.

thank goodness for March Madness On Demand

watching the Cal-Maryland game, and i can't help but think of the dad from Teen Wolf every time i look at Mike Montgomery. see for yourself:

Unable to capitalize

NU's loss last night resulted from their inability to take advantage of two long stretches where Tulsa struggled to score. especially when playing on the road, you have to take and increase the lead while the home team isn't putting points on the board.

the first of these stretches was the last 12 minutes of the first half. of course, some of this wasn't televised because the VaTech game hadn't ended yet, but in the last 11:45 of the first half, Tulsa made exactly two field goals. yes, they made seven free throws in that stretch to hang around, but NU only had a two point lead at the break. that had to be encouraging for the Hurricane, especially after they shot only 33% (including 2/13 from 3PT) and figured to shoot much better in the second half of a home game. which, of course, they did.

the other stretch that killed the Wildcats was - SURPRISE, SURPRISE! - the last seven minutes of regulation. Tulsa scored their 60th point at 7:27 and didn't score again until free throws with 20 seconds left. while NU cut an 11 point lead down to 3, they still had trouble getting baskets on key possessions. check out this sequence to end the game. we'll start at the under 4 timeout; NU has the ball, down 60-55.

N - Shurna throws up (and misses) a fadeaway three at the shot clock buzzer
T - missed three
N - Moore misses a long three
T - offensive foul
N - NU disoriented, calls timeout. Mirkovic airballs an 18 footer, but Coble hustles to keep possession. Shurna misses another long three, another NU offensive rebound. Thompson makes layup, NU trails 60-57
T - alley oop dunk, NU trails 62-57
N - Shurna backdoor layup, NU trails 62-59
T - missed shot
N - NU disoriented again, calls timeout. Mirkovic sets a bunch of ball screens for Thompson while the other three guys stand around. what looks like a broken play ends up with Moore getting a pretty open look at the tying three. miss. game over.

and thus ends, with a resounding thud, what many are calling one of the most successful basketball seasons in Northwestern history. it sure didn't feel that way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


this one's about over.  down 5 with 21 seconds left.

free throw stats:
Tulsa 21/25
Northwestern 6/8

Uh oh

NU down 10 with 10:42 left and Michael Thompson just went to the bench with foul #4. it looked like Shurna actually should have been called for it, but i guess that doesn't really matter now.

Moore just hit a three to cut it to 7 and hopefully keep the 'cats alive.

Jerome Jordan doing what we feared he would

Kyle Rowley might as well be invisible.  Jordan has 14 points, 10 of those from the free throw line.  every time he gets the ball NU is double-teaming, and most of the time they're just hacking him.  Jordan also has two big blocks, and his last one had the crowd on the verge of losing their minds before NU forced a turnover.

Moore picked up his third foul, and Coble continues to be the only one who can do anything on offense.  this is not good.

Random observations

the crowd seems awfully fired up for an NIT game against an opponent they've never faced before.

Dickey Simpkins is working the game as an announcer.  he must be disappointed in his protege Kyle Rowley picking up three early fouls.  i guess he should have coached him up some more.

the way Doug Wojcik yells at his players really makes him look like a serial killer.  perhaps even as much as Kansas State's Frank Martin.

Tulsa has scored one field goal on its last 14 possessions, but NU is still losing.

So far, a blackout

well, NU's first postseason game in ten years is allegedly going to be broadcast on ESPNU, but we have to wait for VaTech to finish off Duquesne in 2OT first.  while waiting to be able to watch it on my tv, a quick glance at shows a one-point game midway through the first half.  bad news is that Thompson has two fouls; good news is that Moore has hit 2/3 from behind the arc.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

NIT matchup is set

as just announced, Northwestern will play Wednesday at Tulsa. NU is in the NIT as a four five seed and will likely play at Auburn if they win. the game will be televised on ESPNU at 9pm ET.

let's hope someone offers Willie $100 to take down Tulsa's Captain Cane.

and yes, i know it's just the NIT, but considering there was no ESPNU to televise the selection show back in '99, at least we get to see Northwestern's name on TV in a bracket.

The List shrinks by four

time for our annual look at what schools made it to the NCAA tournament for the first time while NU stays firmly out on the outside looking in. this year it was Morgan State, who joined D-I in 1985, Stephen F Austin (1987) along with Binghamton (2002). the fourth team is North Dakota State, whose first year of eligibility for D-I postseason play was, oh, 200fucking9.

there are now about 30 teams who have been in D-1 for at least ten years that are still waiting, none longer than Northwestern.

meanwhile, forget about all this bubble and RPI talk. the REAL action starts at 9:00 ET on ESPNU for the NIT selection show. can you feel the excitement?!?!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Maybe we could get Billy Gillespie

the most common criticism i get for this site is generally along the lines of "Carmody has done as well or better than any other NU coach I can remember" or "It's Northwestern - what do you expect? The Final Four?"

i understand where those comments are coming from, but i refuse to accept mediocrity for this basketball program. whatever excuses you can come up with for its lack of success, the NU football program has proven otherwise.

however, i am very content not being quite as blood-thirsty as some fan bases. yes, Kentucky, i'm talking about you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now, we wait

at this point i would be shocked if Northwestern gets a home NIT game. forget about the fact that there are probably 16 bubble teams ahead of them. a simple look at the attendance numbers will encourage that committee to send the Wildcats on the road. given the travel considerations, i wouldn't be surprised if they end up in South Bend. i'm sure Luke Harangody is salivating at game tapes of Kyle Rowley.

but we'll worry about that later. for now here are my observations from today's loss.

at the beginning of NU's second-half run to get back in it, there was a timeout about 5 minutes into the second half. according to the delightful Charissa Thompson, BC didn't do much talking during that timeout. he simply asked his players what they saw and what they thought needed to be done. an interesting strategy, but it worked. NU gradually cut into a 12 point deficit before taking a 49-47 lead with 7:47 left.

but from there, they just stopped playing offensively. Coble was limited to two points in the second half and was in foul trouble down the stretch. add that to Moore's misses, and you're not left with much. from that 7:47 mark, NU didn't score again until there were 51 seconds left and they were down by 12.

Northwestern actually got to the bonus midway through the second half but couldn't take advantage. Nash missed two free throws when they were down one with under five left, and they didn't attempt another until thirty seconds left. the Wildcats were terrified in the paint on offense, and even when they did go up, they did so weakly. Minnesota finished with 11 blocks but it felt like more.

with under three minutes left, NU down three, Moore drove the lane and threw a pass out of bounds. Gus Johnson responded by accurately describing the Wildcats as "athletically challenged"

although Westbrook finished with only 14, he took control of the game in the last four minutes. it was similar to NU's struggles with Evan Turner. when Northwestern faces an athletic, take-charge player, they can't stop him from making baskets in key situations. and at the other end, NU has no one close to that level who can score for them.

and because this post wouldn't be complete without a non sequitur, i swear i heard Gus say something about Blake Hoffarber playing for the Canadian national team. that doesn't seem right because i know he's a minnesota native. and of course, i know this because when Blake Hoffarber was in high school he did this. which he then followed up with this in last year's big ten tournament.

This game is over

Down 8 with 1:15 left. no ability to score when needed.

'Cats make a little run

and cut it to 4 with under ten to go. Tubby just called a timeout.

make that a two point game as Nash steals for a layup. NU playing with a lot of confidence all of a sudden.

hard to tell how many people are in the building. i think there are a fair amount of empty seats but both fan bases are pretty vocal.

after Thompson FTs, now we're tied at 47.

Halftime: NU trails 31-25

i have no idea how Northwestern is only losing by 6. obviously Coble is the only reason, as he has 19 points. Minnesota is dominating the boards, in the paint, in transition, and their bench has scored all but four points. NU's most common play call: drive the lane, get too far under the basket to shoot, jump in the air, look in vain for someone to pass to, turnover.

but look on the bright side... no shot clock violations!

Finally someone else scores

NU was down 22-8 and Coble had been the only player to score until Shurna hit a three. Minnesota's defense is causing turnovers and leading to baskets in transition. by far the highlight of the game so far has been Moore yelling at Rowley and grabbing him with both hands after the big man threw a bad pass. the 'cats look pretty tight.

A bit of a slow start

i guess that's to be expected with the 12pm tip off. Rowley actually looks pretty good. one missed shot but it came after a nice drop step. another good pass out of the post that led to a Coble three. giving up offensive rebounds continues to be a problem...

Live blogging today

check back here during today's game for live game coverage. thanks to our sponsors for setting FBC up with slingbox to watch NU try to keep their season alive. minnesota started this season 16-1 before losing at Northwestern started them on a 5-8 slide to finish the season. LTP earlier documented NU's dreadful big ten tournament history, but as only two-point underdogs we'll see if they can turn that around today.

i think i've done live blogging only twice before, so hopefully this afternoon's game goes a little better than this one or this one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

NU more patient than other programs

...and that is not necessarily a good thing. in no way am i suggesting that Northwestern's fans or administration take their expectations to Kentucky-like levels, but it would be helpful if they acknowledge failure and take measures to address it.

the two headlines that caught my eye this morning were the coaching changes announced at Elon and High Point. it is important to mention that both these schools share NU's distinction of having never made the NCAA tournament, although their misery has been much shorter, since both schools entered Division I just nine years ago. but even without that basketball heritage, the AD's at both places decided six seasons of losing was enough. at High Point, they guy they threw out even had a winning record.

how is it that Northwestern can sit idly through debacles like last season and not even think about making a change? granted, it would be illogicial and unreasonable to replace Carmody after this season. after all, this will be only the fourth-ever trip to the NIT in school history. but BC needs to be careful to avoid a regression next year. following the 1994 NIT berth, NU went 5-22 / 1-17 and lost 20 of its last 21 games. after the 1999 NIT season, the Wildcats went 5-25 / 0-16 and lost 20 of its last 21 games. Carmody will need to do something he hasn't before, and that is carry some wins over to the following season.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Meanwhile, some people refuse to let the dream die

it's time for Mike Lopresti's annual March/Northwestern basketball article. this one is annoying not just because he just re-used many of the same lines from last year's piece, but also because of all the "our Wildcats" and "we beat them"

NU finishes in 9th place

that makes seven times in Bill Carmody's nine seasons that NU has finished in 8th or worse place in the standings. despite Dave Revine's praise of the coach's ability to draw up out-of-bounds plays late in the game, Northwestern twice came up empty in the last twenty seconds when they had a chance to tie.

this L is especially costly, as Northwestern's schedule goes from what could have been Iowa and Illinois to what is now Minnesota and Michigan State. the best that the Wildcats can hope for is a home game or two in the NIT, but even that is not a lock.

Friday, March 06, 2009

This will all come to a screeching halt if they lose in Columbus

Northwestern basketball fans are coming out of the woodwork.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

No, Northwestern is not on the bubble (yet)

i never thought we'd be having this discussion after those three straight losses in February, but last night's win over Purdue has sparked bubble talk. everyone agrees that NU still has lots of work to do. and while the road wins over two of the conference's top teams can't be ignored, the computer numbers don't look as encouraging...

NU is 6-8 against teams 1-50 in the RPI. only 13 teams have as many or more top 50 wins than Northwestern, and all are virtual locks for the tournament. (for the record they are: Michigan St, Pittsburgh, Duke, Connecticut, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, Louisville, Villanova, Arizona St, Purdue, Texas, California) sounds great, right?

but it's actually some of Northwestern's early wins that take away some of its luster. what is killing NU's computer numbers is the non-conference strength of schedule. six of those wins came against teams ranked over 195, including three against 300+ teams. the non-conference schedule ranks 226 in the country, which is a big factor in their current RPI of 70. Northwestern has no terrible losses but the worst L's on the resume right now were on the road to Iowa (116) and Stanford (109). the killer with those is not only are they bad teams, but picking up an additional road win or two would have been huge.

meanwhile, the big ten standings are in complete chaos. if Indiana were to win at Wisconsin (plus a number of other very possible outcomes), we could have six teams tie for fourth place with 9-9 conference records. if that happens, the Big Ten will probably need to use all of its tiebreakers.

clearly, the game at Ohio State is a must-win. after that, NU would need at least one and maybe two wins in the conference tournament.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This time it's Purdue's time to choke away a victory

the Boilermakers were in control until they decided to go over 8 minutes without a point in the second half.  Purdue missed two of three free throws in the final thirty seconds when they could have made it interesting.

this certainly was a big-time road win and i'm sure it's been a long time since NU won at Indiana and at Purdue within a week.  seeding for the conference tournament is still very much in the air; i haven't done all the math yet but i think there still exists a scenario where Northwestern could finish 5th and get a first-round bye.  wow, i can't believe i just typed that.