Fired Bill Carmody: March 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bill Carmody has been fired

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fire Bill Carmody - the final chapter?

I would consider it a professional embarrassment if Bill Carmody was actually fired during/following a season in which I posted nothing here.  Don't assume that I no longer pay attention to Northwestern basketball.  I've been watching.  Not as closely or as frequently as I would like to, but I've been watching.  And I'm... disheartened.

The past few seasons, while at times maddeningly frustrating, have at least included sparks of great wins, of athleticism, of hope.  There were blown leads and crushing losses, sure, but there was also a surprising absence of embarrassing defeats.  In the previous two seasons, Northwestern joined Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, and Georgetown as the only schools who didn't lose to an RPI 100+ team.

That was not the case this season, as NU lost to four of those teams: Nebraska (103), Purdue (116), UIC (171), and Penn State (184).  And Northwestern's best two wins - Minnesota and Illinois - look a lot less impressive now than when they happened.

The only thing that makes me feel better is that fans are aware of it.  This March is filled, as was last year's, with chatter about the current & future state of Northwestern basketball.  That's all I ever asked for.  Just five years ago, BC had just gone 3-31 the previous two conference seasons and not a whole lot of people were talking about him.  There were no "stay or go" polls on LTP, but now you can't go anywhere on Twitter or the web without stumbling across a heated debate over Coach Carmody's future.  Even all those who feel strongly that he should stay- at least now there are a whole lot more people who give a shit.

I came across one of those arguments earlier this week.  Part of it included:
First, no Northwestern fan should ever speak or type the name Frank Solich without including the descriptor "fucking asshole."  How quickly people have forgotten the fucking asshole Frank Solich gleefully running up the score on our beloved 'Cats.  I was there, and I can assure you that it was even uglier in person than on TV.

Second, just because Steve Pederson waited a year too long to fire fucking asshole Frank Solich, it doesn't mean he shouldn't have fired him.  But you didn't come here to read about fucking asshole Frank Solich, especially since that example doesn't even apply here: Nebraska was actually better the year he was fired.  In our case, it's obvious that Northwestern basketball took a step backwards this year.

This is where the rest of you jump in and say "But the injuries!" and "It's not Carmody's fault - he was without Crawford & Cobb!"  And yes, injuries.  However:

a) Every team and coach deals with injuries and academic issues.  It's not as if no coach has ever been fired after an injury-laded season.

b) Every November Coach Carmody tells us that FINALLY THIS YEAR WE HAVE DEPTH.  If I was better at this, [here] is where I would link to previous yearly BC quotes about a deeper bench, more guys getting minutes, etc.  I am not making this up - he's said it at the beginning of each of the last few seasons.

The one quote I do have handy is that on 12/22/09, he told Andy Katz, "I think we're a little deeper, much deeper, so you know, our eighth, ninth man is very capable.  And there isn't that big a drop-off to the eighth or ninth man from our fourth and fifth guy."  Check the stats from that season:  three guys averaged over 34 minutes per game.  I'd say the drop-off from Crawford & Mirkovic to Rowley & Curletti (both sophomores) was significant.  All this supposed depth hasn't been able to mitigate the injuries.

c) BC is not completely off the hook when it comes to these injuries.  Let's start with the Kevin Coble clusterfuck.  While Coble may have been kind of a dick and not the best teammate, I don't think there's any question that Carmody totally mishandled that situation.  Move ahead to the following season, when JerShon Cobb had hip surgery in April 2011.  He started the season and averaged 17mpg in November, missed three games, averaged 17mpg in Dec/Jan, then missed eight more games.  Last season Tre Demps suffered a torn labrum over the summer but kept playing (with a brace).  He started the first game and played in three more before season-ending shoulder surgery in December 2011.

When I heard that Crawford was done in December 2012, my first thought was, "I can't believe BC screwed this up again."  Drew had aggravated a previous shoulder injury in September and was clearly never 100% in the ten games he played.  Carmody explained that Crawford "attempted to play through it, but it just hasn't responded as we all would have liked."  While I'm not accusing a win-desperate coach of asking players to put off surgery or rush back too quickly, it's clear that this coaching and/or medical staff has mismanaged off-season injuries.

There are plenty of Carmody defenders out there who can come up with lots of excuses for why he should stay.  They're obviously not the only ones who feel that way, considering BC's bosses have essentially brought him back twelve times.  In Loretta's well-reasoned SoP post last month, what really stuck with me was this:

His detractors point out, correctly, that at any other BCS conference program in the country, a coach who failed to make the tournament once in thirteen years would surely get fired. However, what those people fail to mention is that a coach at any other BCS program in the country who made the tournament just once in thirteen years would also surely be fired.  Yet if Northwestern ... had made the NCAA tournament [once], no one, and I mean no one, would be demanding Carmody be fired.

We know all parts of that to be true.  Hell, Mark Gottfried took basketball-history-less Alabama to five straight tourneys, an Elite Eight appearance and a #1 ranking and he got run in the middle of his eleventh season.  Meanwhile, I've said a million times that I'll shut down FBC if he makes the tournament just once.  But the fact is that Bill Carmody has not made the tournament once.  He's had some tough bounces and a handful of injuries, but no more than anybody else.  You can't look at all the bad luck and consider what might have been without also considering the good luck that got NU this far.  Thirteen years is a significant sample size.  It all evens out over time, and he's come up short.

So if Carmody is out, who is in?  Teddy Greenstein put together a comprehensive list of potential replacements.  I'm still not sure who my first choice is, but I know it needs to be someone who isn't scared.  You're competing against a conference that's really good and has infinitely better facilities than NU.  It's an extremely difficult gig, no doubt.  I don't think you definitely need to get a rah-rah Fitz type, but it certainly has to be someone who is going to work his ass off while staying patient at the same time.

I think I would lean towards one of the younger guys.  As terrified as I am by the dreadful Coach K coaching tree, Collins is certainly an intriguing candidate.  Hard to imagine him finally leaving Cameron for this job.  I want no part of Greenberg, Floyd, or Mooney.  I have to assume Teddy included Dakich as a joke.  Drew, Jacobsen and the OSU assistants are all interesting ideas.  I would also consider Dr. Brett Reed from Lehigh, in part because it would be fun to have a head coach who is a doctor.

Shaka Smart is also on Teddy's list, even though he's way too good and much too expensive to come to Evanston.  Of course, that wasn't the case four years ago, before any of us had heard of him, when I had the perfect candidate.  WHY DON'T YOU PEOPLE LISTEN TO ME?

I'll be watching with the rest of you on Thursday night.  As I always do, I'll be hoping for a NU win.  But I have to think that a loss might be enough for Jim Phillips to push BC out the door, and that could turn out to be a much more important win for Northwestern.