Fired Bill Carmody: January 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Another conference road game slips away

this one didn't have the same feel as the Illinois game, but the end result is the same: a stinging loss in a game that was there for the taking. NU was up 18-12 early when Minnesota sent all five starters to the bench. the subs provided a spark and Minnesota finished the half on a 21-7 run. Northwestern didn't shoot terribly in the first half (40%) but they had no offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

with three NU airballs to start the second half, the situation looked bleak as Minnesota stretched the lead to 13. but a string of Gopher turnovers practically mandated that the Wildcats make the game interesting. NU actually led by one briefly before Hoffarber's two daggers put the game away.

while Minnesota's bench only contributed 11 points, its 71 combined minutes was a noticable contribution to the win. meanwhile, Northwestern reserves were on the floor for 19 mostly useless minutes. if Nick Fruendt hadn't thought about transferring before today, i'm guessing the thought will now cross his mind.

this lack of depth really worries me. i feel like it's been looming as a potential problem for a few weeks, but i was hoping that if we didn't really talk about it, it might just somehow fix itself. but as we head into the last month of the regular season, i have serious concerns about the starters wearing down. Juice is perhaps the only player who has previously logged this many minutes, and you have to figure that Crawford will hit the freshman wall at some point.

in an interview with Andy Katz on December 22, Carmody talked about the difference between this year's team and the last few seasons. (i went back and listened to it again so i could get the quote exactly right) "...I think we're a little deeper, much deeper. So our eighth/ninth man is very capable, and there isn't that big a drop-off from the eighth or ninth man to our fourth and fifth guys."

really? you think that there isn't a measurable difference between Nick Fruendt/Mike Capocci and Crawford or Mirkovic or Nash? i mean, Marcotullio left his 3PT shot in December and often seems clueless, but i'd absolutely rather have him on the court instead of NF or MC. i realize Carmody made that statement coming off blowout wins over NCA&T and UNF, but even then he had to know that he wasn't going to get much out of those guys and Rowley.

next up is a trip to East Lansing, the site of arguably NU's most impressive win of the last 15 years. Sparty should have lost last night in Crisler Arena. John Beilein drew up a brilliant play for the last shot, but a missed layup kept MSU perfect in the conference. i don't know if they'll finish that way, but i don't expect the Spartans to lose on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What will people talk about when (if) NU makes the tournament?

first it was Gary Parrish comparing Northwestern and UConn. now it is Pat Forde leading off his weekly college hoops entry with some purple love:

First things first: There should be renewed hope in Evanston, Ill., today. If the Saints can make the Super Bowl, Northwestern can make the Big Dance. All things are now possible.

Who dat … who dat … who dat say dey gonna beat dem Wildcats?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trip to The Barn becomes a "should win"

after Saturday's come-from-behind victory over the Illini, Northwestern's RPI made a slight jump to 56. after Saturday's come-from-ahead loss to Sparty, Minnesota's RPI took a small slide to 66. i'll stop short of saying this road game in the Big Ten would be a bad loss, but as of today both NU and UMN are on the outside looking in. i'm sure the Wildcats would feel a lot better about their chances if they were able to pick up two wins in head-to-head competition with fellow bubble teams.

let's be clear: there is an opportunity here. look across the country, and you see some very VERY mediocre basketball teams. as SI's Andy Glockner tweeted in the wee hours of this morning, "This week's bubble is awful. Once done putting in every team that was mostly deserving for an at-large, there are still 10 spots left. blech." NU can earn some serious respect with a win in Minneapolis on Tuesday.

meanwhile, how many of you ever thought you'd read a national columnist make a logical and effective argument for why a Northwestern men's basketball team should be held in higher esteem than a University of Connecticut men's basketball team? here it is.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More RPI talk

(if you don't care about RPI and just want to see Kevin Coble hit a backwards shot from 3/4 court on one leg, click here)

Sippin' on Purple took a detailed look at NU's bubble status, so i won't bother trying to give my own interpretation of the same numbers when you can just read it here.

but i do want to spend some more time on Northwestern's strength of remaining schedule and RPI. every March people get all pissed off when the RPI is mentioned, as if some mysterious formula is replacing the good ol' eyeball test. look, RPI is not the be-all, end-all for determining tourney bids and seeding. but the math behind it does make sense - who did you play? and who did you beat?

i don't think we can overstate how bleak the situation is for our Wildcats. it's not just that NU only has five top 100 opponents left. it's that the most of the rest are really REALLY bad. check out the current RPI numbers for the remaining opponents:

77 Illinois
55 @ Minnesota
21 @ Michigan St
117 Michigan
192 Indiana
178 @ Iowa
55 Minnesota
233 Penn State
11 @ Wisconsin
178 Iowa
233 @ Penn State
341 Chicago St
192 @ Indiana

assuming those numbers stay about the same, a win(s) over Penn State would come in behind North Florida and Northern Illinois. and Chicago State at 341 is only six spots ahead of the bottom of Division I and is four spots BEHIND the 0-19 Bryant Bulldogs. NU's RPI has been right around 60 for a few weeks and there simply won't be much opportunity to improve that.

using those RPI numbers as unofficial rankings, let's assume NU beats the worse teams and loses to the better teams. that leads them into the conference tournament at 22-9 / 10-8. as SoP explained, that's a good record on paper, but it falls apart once you look at who they would have beaten. and sure, Northwestern *could* win one of those games against MSU, Minnesota or Wisconsin; but they also sure as hell *could* lose one or more against Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan or Penn State. ok, maybe not Penn State.

finally, here is some RPI history about at-large bids (ALB) and why that 22-9 record and ~60 RPI probably wouldn't be good enough:

The highest rated team left out: #21 Missouri St, #30 Hofstra (2006), #30 Air Force (2007).
... among BCS conferences: #40 Cincinnati (2006).

The lowest rated teams to get at-large bids: #62 Arizona (2009), #62 Iowa St and #63 NC State (2005), #63 Stanford (2007).

Fewest wins to get an ALB: 17 (Alabama - 2006).

Most losses to get an ALB: 14 (Arizona - 2008).

Worst record to get an ALB: 18-14 .563 (Arizona - 2008)

Number of times a team with at least 20 wins has been left out: 109
... among BCS conferences: 22

Most wins left out: 26 (Robert Morris - 2008, Niagara and Creighton - 2009)
... among BCS conferences: 23 (Florida - 2009)

Best record left out: 22-5 .818 (Stephen F. Austin - 2008)
... among BCS conferences: 21-9 .700 (West Virginia - 2007, South Carolina - 2009)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fun with RPI

the bandwagon has some mechanical problems

i won't spend any time analyzing NU's performance yesterday. there isn't any shame in giving up a near triple double to a lottery pick, and i certainly didn't expect the Wildcats to win a road game against a red-hot team contending for a conference title.

the truth is, the Illinois game always loomed as the more important matchup. Ohio State will be in the tourney for sure; Illinois may not. a Northwestern loss at Ohio State is not a bad one; a loss at home to a fellow bubble team might be. considering the OT loss in December in Champaign and the choking dog performance last year in Evanston, another Wildcat loss to the Illini would be extremely painful.

if nothing else, last night's loss probably ended (at two) Wilbon's streak of consecutive Lunardi-bashing on PTI. and Mark Titus earned his 12 zeros for just the third time this season.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

well, THAT was a big time win

i'll be the first to say that this year's team does have a different feel about it. they are able to compete with teams which are, at least on paper, better than them. you can tell that the NU players feel a difference too, as Jeremy Nash was jawing a bit with E'Twaun Moore with about five minutes left.

i'm absolutely stunned at the lack of impact from JaJuan Johnson today. the crowd gave a big cheer when he fouled out, but he really did nothing. after seeing NU struggle with Mike Tisdale, i expected the Boilers to go to Johnson again and again. NU got a little help today with both Hummell and Kramer getting a little banged up, but clearly they were not going to fade down the stretch like they did against Wisconsin. free throw shooting was HUGE, especially considering that NU was shooting 65% in conference games today.

NU is still essentially a five-man team (does Marcotullio realize the season continued into 2010?) and those fouls in the last minute were frustrating. but let's face it, there was a lot that went right. NU dominated the boards 42-23 and shot 47% to Purdue's 35%. you think back to all those threes that NU shot against NC A&T, but today they were only 4/10. considering that NU lost the turnover battle 16-6, it appears this team can win in different ways.

for me the key moments were those four made 3PT FGs, as they came in pairs at crucial moments of the game. the first two came less than a minute apart in the first half, when Juice woke up the crowd and gave the Wildcats their first lead. Crawford's two threes were actually further apart in the second half, but the first gave NU the lead (which they would never again relinquish) and the last one helped seal it. credit NU's defense with holding Purdue without a FG from 5:52 to 0:38.

finally, i have to acknowledge the play of Kyle Rowley. a friend described his play today as "not awful" and "at least he's becoming a somewhat competent defensive rebounder." so he's got that going for him.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Surprise guest post!

since i missed last night's home defeat to Wisconsin, i figured i'd take the easy way out. here is an unedited email i received from a friend at 12:07am ET regarding the game.

I just got to say that I'm fucking sick and tired of this bullshit. This is complete and utter fucking bullshit. Seriously. If that motherfucker can't figure out that we lose leads late against good teams every damn year that we should win because he plays 6-7 players every game (tonight Rowley played while Marcotuillo only got some token action), then he should recruit me to play as a walk on. There is absolutely no fucking point in having Curletti, Freundt and Capocci rotting on the bench at a cost of $50,000 per year each. Hell, donate that money toward world fucking peace and just get walk-ons. Late in games we start losing the battles to loose balls, give up too many offense rebounds and have way too many reach-in fouls. My stupid rec league coach when I was 12 could even tell me that those are tell-tale due to fatigue.

If that motherfucker can't get his damn players to shoot free throws, hire Rick Barry to teach them how to shoot underhanded. How many damn times are we going to lose leads late because we can't hit the front ends of one-on-ones (or just miss them both when we shoot two)? Also, in ten damn years, how has he not found ONE center who can shoot from distance other than Vince Scott (and I'm being kind with that one) when your damn offense is predicated on having a center who can shoot? Maybe Davor if I'm being really kind. When Rowley comes in, we play 4-on-5 on offense. And when Luka is in there, you're scared every time he has the ball because he's going to try some spin move that'll end in disaster (that said, he did play pretty well tonight minus the airball from 3).

How does your opponent shoot miss TEN field goals in a row and still only trail by 3? And Trevon Hughes had ONE fucking point at that point. ONE!!!!!!!!! And no Leuer!

You can't even blame this on Wisconsin having better athletes. Those guys are whiter than our guys and just as non-athletic. Sure, Trevon Hughes is a good player, but it's not like I'd pick him over Shurna if we were playing at CCI. You can't blame this on Coble being out. Leuer is out too. You can't blame this on being tired from playing a great opponent in the last game. Wisconsin just beat Purdue with their best/second-best player getting hurt during the game.

I don't even know if I can take this any more...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Drew Crawford saves the day

a loss today in Ann Arbor would have been devastating, and early on it didn't look good. Michigan's biggest lead was 17 with about four minutes remaining in the first half. but Crawford responded with a personal 11-0 run in about 100 seconds that cut the lead to 6 and forced a UM timeout. although NU trailed by nine at the half, that little run gave the team some confidence.

Crawford kept it going with another 9 points early in the second half, including a sweet dunk of a missed layup by Nash. threes by Juice and Shurna pushed NU out to a ten point lead with about seven minutes left, but that lead quickly evaporated and the 'cats trailed again with a minute and a half left. Michigan turnovers and Crawford free throws sealed the win for NU.

it is refreshing to see a player in a Northwestern uniform who can dominate stretches of a conference game. during an interview last month with Andy Katz, Tom Izzo (who inexplicably is a HUGE Bill Carmody fan) said BC has done a great job over the years with "different kinds of talent." that's a nice way of saying NU's players traditionally suck. but today we actually had a guy capable of stepping up and going toe-to-toe with a player like Manny Harris and get enough done for a big win.

NU shot the ball fairly well today, held their own on the boards and limited the Wolverines to 62 points. when you factor in the RPI ramifications of Stanford's wins over USC & UCLA along with Notre Dame (now 14-3) knocking off West Virginia, this turns out to be a pretty decent weekend for the Wildcats.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Shurna, & not much else, barely enough to get by UTPA

yikes. that was brutal. while a win is a win, this one certainly did nothing to boost NU's sagging confidence. you can read the gory details here, here and here.

they better shake it off quickly though, as Sunday's trip to Ann Arbor is one of two winnable (according to me) games left this month- the other being home vs. Illinois on January 23. last season the Wildcats showed that they're capable of knocking off teams like Michigan State and Purdue, but i'm certainly not going to count on those types of wins, considering how the team has struggled in the past week.

Juice is a little banged up right now, and it appears Carmody has no confidence in his bench, as four starters played 31 minutes or more last night. of course, the bench isn't really giving him a reason to be confident. Marcotullio went 0-5 from the floor with four turnovers while Curletti and Rowley combined in 16 minutes for more fouls (5) than than rebounds (4) or points (3).

probably the biggest disappointment from last night is Lindsey Willhite's note that NU wasn't effective in the 2-3 zone. at least Carmody recognizes that a 1-3-1 backline of Michael Thompson will not be effective against JuJuan Johnson, DeShawn Sims or the Buzzcuts, but if NU can't stop anyone with the 2-3 either, then what's the difference?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Chris Ballard's piece on Northwestern trying to break through to the tourney was well-written enough that i thought perhaps he was an alum. he is not, and according to his S.I. bio he has never worked in Chicago, but he was pretty effective at capturing the history that NU is up against.

i caught most of Purdue's win over Minnesota last night, and the Boilermakers looked awfully impressive. their guards are quick, and Johnson moves really well with and without the ball. the box score says they only had 12 assists but it seemed like more; the way they pass the ball does not bode well for NU's zone defense.

i also saw the finish of Texas-Arkansas. that game probably goes the other way if Courtney Fortson doesn't cramp up. but it could be better for Arkansas that they lost. maybe a loss to Texas will bring the opposite of what happened to their season last year after defeating UT.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Well how about that

this post serves no purpose other than horn self-tooting, but i was amused that my dumb little FBC caught the eye (and ire) of Dickie V.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

'Cats can't keep up with Spartans

to me, it's this type of game that make the close losses to mediocre teams even harder to take. when you see NU clearly over-matched by an elite opponent, you realize they cannot afford to let any wins get away.

Kalin Lucas responded well to his benching and led a balanced scoring attack with 21. NU was out-rebounded by only 14 but had no chance to stop MSU inside. the Spartans were extremely efficient on offense, needing only 54 shots to get their 91 points. the center position continues to be the biggest hole on the NU roster. Mirkovic struggled and Rowley contributed 3 fouls and a turnover in 11 minutes. perhaps interior defense is something NU can work on during what should otherwise be an easy win Thursday night at home against UT Pan American.