Fired Bill Carmody: March 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

To extend or not extend

regarding the status of coach Carmody, for a long time i've thought NU has no choice but to give him a contract extension. not because he'd earned it, but because having a coach in a contract year cripples any recruiting efforts. [obviously i wouldn't suggest that Jim Phillips hand out a Paul Hewitt contract; see section C on page 3 - every March 15 his contract renews automatically and is essentially a never-ending six-year deal.] but having a lame duck coach makes those conversations with high school sophomores and juniors very awkward.

however, by my count NU only has one spot left for 2010/2011. (let's all pray Tavaras can find a serviceable back-up point guard.) it sounds like Jeff Ryan will be back with Coble, so that would mean Jershon is their 14th scholarship. i think everyone understands that it's all-or-nothing for the Wildcats next season, since NU is set to lose Capocci, Coble, Peljusic, Ryan and Thompson. even if BC got an extension and was able to bring in a decent class for 2011/2012, it's unlikely that a bunch of freshmen will be able to immediately step in for those guys.

of course, the ideal situation would be for NU to pick up more than one additional recruit for the upcoming season in an effort to upgrade the talent. basically do what John Calipari did last year in Lexington: bring in a bunch of better players so the guys already on the roster are SOL. (how awesome would it be if BC just stopped returning Nick Fruendt's calls?) but i don't see that happening between now and mid-October.

in the end, i think Phillips will give him an extension, but let's hope that the structure of the new contract doesn't financially prohibit NU making a change if/when they need to. given that the team in two years will basically look like last season's roster minus Juice (shudder), i wouldn't be upset if JP rolls the dice and puts both the staff and players on notice that it's 2011 or bust.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

OK, my anger is back

yesterday i made a concerted effort to avoid wild angry rants. but then today i read a column about the "tremendous legacy" left behind by Jeremy Nash. now i'm all fucking pissed off and have no choice but to direct a season's worth of frustration at Aaron Morse. it's one thing to slurp up Jeremy Nash when you thought Northwestern would make the tournament. yes, Aaron Morse did this also, back in January. but to post this nonsense after the team finished the season by losing six out of nine just leaves me confused. confused and enraged. let's see what lil' Aaron has to say.

Welsh Ryan Arena nearly exploded from the decibel levels reached at that moment.

no, no it didn't. W-R Arena has never reached explosive decibel levels. unless you count the times it was filled with fans from Iowa. or Indiana. or Wisconsin. or...

There's nothing sweeter than finally beating your rival, in front of your fans, in the middle of the race to the NCAA tournament.

can you call it a race if neither team crosses the finish line?

After only making seven three-pointers his freshman year, Nash knocked down 39 of them as a senior. He filled in at the shooting guard spot

maybe it's just me, but i like my shooting guards to make more than 1.15 3PT FGs per game.

But how many games would they have won the past two years without him?

according to this, Nash contributed 1.1 wins last season. so the number of wins would have been about the same. i also know that if he could properly execute a chest pass, Northwestern might have won this game. and if he'd been able to make a layup with 20 seconds left, Northwestern would probably have won this game. so let's call it even.

[Juice] told me that playing with Nash in the backcourt had really opened his eyes to the impact good defense can have on the game.

he sure as hell wasn't going to learn that from the current coaching staff.

It will be hard to replace Nash's D next season. But even though the rest of NU struggled this year on that end of the floor, I think you will see a renewed focus next year.

Northwestern's defense struggled. Northwestern loses its best defender. but the defense will be much better next year. makes sense to me.

Maybe we'll see you coaching the 1-3-1 here in the near future.

just a perfect way to end this. NU hoops fans all over the country have been criticizing Bill Carmody's defensive gameplans, so let's bring back a guy who played on a terrible defensive team to coach defense. awesome.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm conflicted

i really don't try to be negative all the time. i realize that, as disappointing i found last season to be, it was the second of the two most successful Northwestern basketball seasons in recent memory. and i do believe that second- or third-tier postseason play is a good thing for those teams involved.

but since i had an opportunity last week to attend both NIT and NCAA games, the difference between the two was really hammered home. Rhode Island plays in a pretty nice arena that's less than eight years old. but the atmosphere last Wednesday was dead. i was under the mistaken impression that the students were on spring break; instead they must have skipped the game for St. Patrick's Day drinking. NU's effort was pretty poor, and they seemed to play with very little emotion. bad defense, bad shooting... considering the last five weeks, it was appropriate to end this season with a whimper.

now, contrast that with downtown Providence on Thursday afternoon. the crowd was electric during the should-have-been upset by Robert Morris. same thing during Omar Samhan's performance on Saturday. while some fans see wins by Northern Iowa or Cornell and think, "why not NU?" i'll tell you why not NU: because those other teams are really good. UNI won 25 games in the regular season. Cornell is making its third straight tournament appearance. those teams would crush Northwestern.

oh right, i'm trying not to be negative. i have to remember that teams need to crawl before they can eventually run. two straight NIT berths is something, even if it's not what we all want.

here is what i said back in November 2009: "This season is a failure if they take a step backwards. ... It would be great to avoid any bad losses and/or late collapses and hopefully knock off a couple of the big boys. Winning two or three games in the NIT would be a great step forward."

given that i made those comments before we knew that Coble was done for the year, i think i can say that the team did not take a step back. NU avoided the late collapses that plagued them in the previous season, and Purdue counts as a win over a big boy. obviously the bad losses in February were plentiful, and winning any - let alone two or three - games in the NIT didn't happen.

i have a pretty good idea of what my season prediction will say in November 2010: simply avoiding a step backwards is not good enough. the time for real, tangible, significant progress with this team has arrived.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Maybe even tournament expansion won't help

according to this article, NU would be the first team out of a 96 team bracket. however, a closer look reveals that this clown just followed the NIT seeding to determine who should be included, and he did not actually compare schedules, RPI, etc. i'm not saying NU is a lock for the larger tournament, but it makes no sense to decide the field based on how things are currently seeded in the NIT.

meanwhile, it sounds like at least a few Wildcat fans will be on hand tonight to see if NU can finally pick up a road win. i actually like their chances, given how poorly Rhode Island shoots from the outside. although i'll be there, i expect this game will simply blur into the beer-filled weekend of more important basketball games. i suppose i'll try to recap it in some fashion before too long.

as an aside, i thought about wearing my 1994 NIT tee shirt, but any good luck from that probably wore off while hanging on the sale rack in Norris, since i didn't purchase the shirt until a good 30 months after NU played in that tournament. then i thought i should wear my 1999 NIT tee shirt, but that probably won't help either, considering at that game i drank enough to lose most of my ability to read the scoreboard in the final minutes. let's hope things go better today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If this doesn't fire you up for the game, nothing will

i will freely admit that my enthusiasm directed towards this year's NIT berth is completely corrupted by the fact that, through pure coincidence, i'll be able to attend the game. at the same time, i do think that the NIT is, on the whole, a good thing. and certainly a team like Northwestern - which enters next season with tangible expectations - can benefit by playing as many games as possible this season.

however, just in case any of you NU fans out there were getting complacent with two consecutive NIT appearances, i implore you to read this rant from SFTF. it will quickly and emphatically bring you back down to earth and remind you just how much our basketball program sucks, relative to the rest of our BCS brethren. pure, angry, delightful stuff.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wildcats' season continues

as first reported (tweeted) by Spread Far the Fame, Northwestern will play at URI on Wednesday night. since i have tickets to the NCAA tournament games in Providence on Thursday, i guess my weekend of hoops will just start a day early now. who would have figured that Rhode Island was the place to be for a Northwestern basketball blogger?

it must have been a fairly close call, as NU is only a 7 seed. but this is certainly a game the Wildcats can win. they shouldn't get as out-athleted as they did last year in Tulsa. the game is 7pm ET on espnU, and the winner will play Wichita State or Nevada.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Finally, win #20

and with that, Northwestern has won 20 games in a season. that's never happened before. so that's one less thing in the category of "Northwestern basketball has never..."

otherwise, this was a pretty ugly affair. NU couldn't buy a bucket from the outside in the first half, and it was a two-point game with about six minutes left. Michael Thompson bailed out the Wildcats scoring 11 straight points from the field as Northwestern broke it open.

i haven't gone back to look at the numbers, but i would be shocked if NU had this many bench minutes in any conference game this season. it was due mainly to Crawford being less than 100% and Mirkovic fouling out with more than ten minutes left. but Curletti (6-6 from the FT line) and Marcotullio (5 assists) acquitted themselves pretty well.

i'm really not trying to be negative, but some perspective is needed with this win. i know a lot of us expected the worst, but let's remember that IU had lost 12 of 13 and finishes the season with 21 losses. i know NU lost to them just a few days ago, but the Wildcats were the higher seed and should have been expected to win this game.

next up is a Robbie Hummelless Purdue. silly Northwestern fans will say things like, "Hey, we beat them at full-strength, so we'll definitely win again." uh, no. this will be a virtual road game, and the Boilers have a lot more to prove than NU does. sadly my pre-existing plans mean i will miss this one - but who the hell factors in Northwestern basketball when making weekend plans in March?!?! i certainly don't expect Purdue to go 9+ minutes without a field goal like Indiana did today, and i don't expect the Wildcats to win Friday night. but if they pull off the miraculous upset, i'll check in again on Saturday for the semifinals.

three other notes from this game:
1) i know the announcers have time to kill and i generally find Steve Lavin very amusing. and i also know they were just talking about hair. but here is an on-screen comparison i'm sure you never thought you'd see

2) the announcers spent a fair amount of time slurping BC and the job he's done at Northwestern. but this particular graphic really annoyed me. let's sum up the accomplishments of these coaches at these schools (before this season):

Tom Izzo - 12 NCAA app, 5 Final Fours, 1 title, 71% winning percentage
Bo Ryan - 8 NCAA app, 1 Elite Eight, 3 conf titles, 73% winning percentage
Bruce Weber - 5 NCAA app, 1 title game app, 2 conf titles, 73% winning percentage
Bill Carmody - 1 NIT app, 45% winning percentage

now do you understand why i get so pissed off about diminished expectations?!!?

3) i did play close attention to the post-game handshake. it appears that Tom Crean, while i'm sure he was disappointed to lose to a shitty team, was not in as huge a hurry as usual.

Holy crap, this is ugly

i hope AC is not watching. he's gonna go blind again.


down three at the half after playing pretty poorly. i have a strange good feeling about this game. i just don't get the sense that IU will suddenly get their act together. assuming NU either makes more from the outside or takes less of those shots, and they continue to hold their own on the boards, this game is there for the taking.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BC chat wrap

i was able to get in three questions with BC today, two as myself and one as my apparent alter-ego, Frank from Maine. i did manage to use the word "supplant" in the chat, which is nice. and i received confirmation that Bill and i just see things differently; to one of my questions he replied, "I don't think like that."

i'm hoping for quick and painless

thursday i'll be heading home early so i can watch this trainwreck in the comfort of my own home with the beverage(s) of my own choice. you can expect to hear from me on twitter and probably here as well. in the meantime, i encourage you to amuse yourself with this brilliant game. it's somewhat cathartic to think of every shitty basketball player that's come through Evanston in the last dozen years.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

bring back KO!

alright, maybe that's a bad idea. but as i watch the NU 1-3-1 zone get shredded repeatedly, i did think about what changes can be made to significantly improve the defense, assuming BC is back again next year. immediately my mind went to our old friend Kevin O'Neill.

KO's lack of patience and general dickishness made his tenure at Northwestern a mostly forgettable one. and perhaps only Bobby Gonzalez keeps KO from showing up on the most-disliked coaches list. however, there is no doubt that KO knows his defense. i checked the numbers, and sure enough- USC is second in the country in defensive efficiency and the only non-lock/bubble team in the top 30. (NU is #161)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Late season collapse nearly complete

so i guess all those fans who said NU could finish 9-1 in February and March were just a bit off. what's remarkable is that NU finished 2-4 against the bottom of the league. that's right: IU, PSU and Iowa combined to win 25% of their conference games. but against Northwestern, those teams won 67% of the time.

as for the elusive 20-win season, it may have inexplicably slipped away. as of February 10, all Northwestern had to do was finish with 4 of 7 wins from a schedule that included Iowa twice, Penn State twice, Indiana, Minnesota (at home) and Chicago State. as i mentioned last week, Indiana had lost eleven in a row in mostly blowouts, and i can't imagine it was all Roshown McCleod's fault. but clearly NU's defense is the perfect elixir for struggling teams. some missed layups by the guys in purple didn't help either. (Marcotullio's effort in the last minute stirred memories of the good ol' point shaving days.)

some continue to fall back on their own diminished expectations of the program to justify talk of how this is still a great season for Northwestern. i don't see it. hell, even last year had more of an upbeat feel than the last six weeks of this season. just yesterday, Lake the Posts referred to this season as "our most successful season in program history." LTP, allow me to introduce you to 1931.

the end of season record is about where i thought it would be, but it's the way this team has faltered down the stretch that's left such a bad taste in my mouth. i thought NU might only finish with one win in January; they got four. but i also assumed NU would finish above .500 against the worst teams in the league. and that downward momentum will not help their chances for the NIT. one prediction site still has NU in (as a 7 seed) but another site has them out. a loss Thursday would ensure that.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Is NU the worst?

earlier this week it dawned on me that this Wildcats team was actually ranked earlier in the season. i know it was a big deal when it happened, but it seems like so long ago that i'd forgotten. in the poll released in week 8 (December 28) the Associated Press voters collectively determined that Northwestern was the 25th best team in the country. remarkable.

as the season has fallen apart in February, i started to wonder whether NU is the worst team that was ranked at some point this year. using some RPI numbers along with overall/conference records, i've put together NU's competition:

16-13 overall, 7-10 in second-best conference
RPI: 65
Best wins: Vanderbilt (13), Maryland(20), UConn twice(49)
Worst losses: @St John's (79), @South Florida (67)
Worst home loss: Marquette (47)

Texas Tech
16-13 overall, 4-11 in best conference
RPI: 66
Best wins: Oklahoma State (27), UTEP (44), Washington (55)
Worst losses: @Nebraska (158), @Wichita State (50)
Worst home loss: Missouri (31)

North Carolina
16-14 overall, 5-10 in third-best conference
RPI: 83
Best wins: Michigan State (24), Ohio State (28), @Wake Forest (34)
Worst losses: Virginia (122), @BC (99), @Charleston (89)

18-11, 4-11 in third-best conference
RPI: 110
Best wins: Wake Forest (34), Georgia Tech (37), Virginia Tech (53)
Worst losses: @Virginia (122), NC State (109)

compare all those to:

19-11, 7-10 in fifth-best conference
RPI: 106
Best wins: Purdue (11), Notre Dame (61), Illinois (72)
Worst losses: @Iowa (193), Penn State (190), @Penn State (190)

sure, Texas Tech's conference record is terrible, but all those losses are to top 50 teams. Cincinnati was on the bubble until recently. North Carolina's fall has been precipitous, but they still have three very nice wins.

Miami has not beaten a tournament lock; NU has the win over Purdue. none of the other schools have anything close to the terrible losses that NU has. it's also worth noting that Northwestern's fifth best win (NC State) is Miami's second-worst loss, so that doesn't help. but as awful as Northwestern has been on the road, Miami has actually been worse. NU only has the two road wins at Michigan and NC State, but Miami's road wins are limited to 5-22 Stetson and 6-22 Pepperdine. i think it's a tough call between Northwestern and Miami.

meanwhile, the Wildcats close the regular season @ Indiana this weekend. the Hoosiers have lost 11 in a row by an average margin of 17. let's hope IU doesn't suddenly get their shit together.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Northwestern single-handedly helping Ed DeChellis keep his job

i have to be honest: i completely forgot about Sunday's game. between the upsets on Saturday, looking ahead to see how Purdue would play without Hummel, and at least cursory interest in the hockey game, i just plain forgot. i was on the treadmill on Sunday afternoon when i looked up at the tv to see that Northwestern had given up 49 points in the first half. only Juice was in double figures, and a lot of bench guys got minutes. i wonder if BC is trying to get a better sense of exactly what he has to work with for next season.

[editor's note] as i read through various recaps of yesterday's game, i came across several discouraging quotes from BC. he makes it sound as though the end of season slide is completely out of his control...

"We haven't been a good road team all year, and the last three weeks our defense has really been spotty at best-we just couldn't stop them. It didn't matter the personnel that was in there (or) whatever we were trying to do: man, matchup, 1-3-1."

"Our only real inside threat is Johnny right now, especially on the road. It just causes problems for you."

"We're not getting anything inside and I don't know what to do about it."