Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NU Women’s Hoops Picks Up Major Talent

I try not to get too excited about the signing of recruits. I think it’s a little crazy to treat a 17 year old kid as the savior of a program or the heir apparent to a player with four years of college experience. I also have seen more than enough top recruits fizzle and bottom-tier recruits shine to know rankings aren’t the be all and end all that they often seem. That said, obviously recruiting rankings have some value as sites like Rivals and Scouts make millions each year producing top 100 lists. Therefore, I think it is time note the amazing work done by NU Women’s Hoops Coach Joe McKeown in recruiting for next year. He has four signed players and all rank in the nation's top 105.

Coach McKeowen has signed 4 players to play for the ‘Cats next year. Right now, McKeown’s class is rated 27th in the nation, but that actually doesn’t take into account the signing of point guard Inesha Hale of Raytown, MO and wing player Kendall Hackney of Cincinnati, Ohio (ranked 11th best power forward and 55th overall) who decommitted from USC. ESPN says of Hackney, “Having both size and mobility to combine with her well honed skills she presents defenses with headache on every possession.” For her part, Hale is rated 87th nationally overall and 14th nationally at her position.

Before inking Hale and Hackney this spring, McKeown signed forwards Inga Orekhova and Dannielle Diamant in the fall. The 6-3 Orekhova is ranked 40th in the nation overall and having missed a good portion of her junior season, probably deserves to be rated higher. Diamant is rated 20th in the nation at her position (105 overall) and at 6-4 gives NU a very athletic forward. She also has some great basketball genes at her grandfather is former UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian.

So what do these four players mean for NU Women’s Hoops. Well, first it means McKeown must be able to sell NU as well as anybody this side of Pat Fitzgerald. Second, it means both NU’s Men’s and Women’s hoops teams are trending upward. Could the 2009-2010 season see both squads in the NCAA tournament? That might be a reach, but with the talent Coach McKeown has assembled it seems a WNIT breath is a realistic expectation this year and an NCAA breath can’t be too far away. People forget NU's Women's Basketball team has a great history, so to see the program moving back towards the high points of that history is a great thing for both Coach McKeown and Northwestern.

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