Sunday, November 29, 2009

Northwestern Should Offer a Fifth Year to Jeff Ryan

Jeff Ryan should get the chance to tour Welsh-Ryan after helping NU to many wins next season.

Recently the question was posed whether or not Jeff Ryan could return for a fifth year of eligibility. Ryan is eligible to return as he hasn’t taken a redshirt year yet. As that is they case, NU wouldn’t even have to apply for a medical hardship in order to bring him back. However, Northwestern already has 12 of the 13 NCAA-allowed scholarship spots filled for next season if you include Kevin Coble’s fifth year and JerShon Cobb coming in as a freshman. If NU adds a recruit in the spring signing period the ‘Cats will have filled all 13 spots for next year. That would be mean no spot would be available for Jeff Ryan to return. When you consider reports that NU is still recruiting guards in the class of 2010 it sounds like NU’s coaching staff is leaning towards Ryan not returning. Personally, I think this would be a mistake. Yes, NU might miss out a potentially strong player in the 2010 class, but NU has interest from a number of talented players in the 2011 and Northwestern needs to be as experienced as possible next season.

If you look at realistic expectations for Northwestern for the rest of this year and next year, one has to conclude that next season should be a huge year for NU. Yes, Northwestern might be the NCAA Tournament this year, but next year NU could realistically be a top-25 team in the preseason with top-5 Big Ten aspirations. Next year, though, will also offer up a non-conference schedule which will feature several road tests, unlike this season where NU only plays one non-conference road game. NU will have to go to Northern Illinois, DePaul, and Texas Pan-America for sure next season. While none of those three schools are power houses, sometimes teams panic on the road. Having two fifth-year seniors on the floor would certainly help stabilize NU if the team gets into trouble. The experience would be even more valuable if NU renews it’s series with Stanford and travels back to California or takes on an out of state in-season tournament trip which matches the team’s high expectations. A team with Coble, Thompson, and Ryan would be one of the most experienced teams NU ever put on the floor. Also, when you consider that Shurna will be a junior who will have started for 2 years the team would probably be as experienced as any team in the nation. Now, I’m not saying Ryan would start along with those guys, but he could rotate into any spot on the floor expect center. Also, if Coach Carmody wanted, Ryan could even step back into the starting lineup and play the top of 1-3-1 as NU will graduate defensive stopped Jeremy Nash.

Jeff Ryan being a very versatile player is my next point in favor of offering the Glenview, Illinois native a fifth year. If NU adds a point guard recruit, which seems the target, NU would no doubt have valuable asset in a true backup for Juice Thompson who Juice could mentor for a year. NU would not, however, have a player who could back up Thompson, Shurna, Coble, and whoever starts at shooting guard. Jeff Ryan could do so. I think it’s also important to note that NU and other schools have successfully played freshman guards in the past. Therefore, it is not essentially NU add a player to be a backup for a season next year.

Admittedly whoever NU recruited would probably be a better scorer than Ryan, but when you look at NU’s 2010-11 roster the ‘Cats don’t really need another scorer. They’ll have Thompson, Shurna, Coble, Marcotullio, Cobb, Crawford, and probably a center with an improved offensive game in order to put up points. With that group what NU will need is a reliable guy who can offer stability off the bench and play defense and rebound. Ryan can do both those things very well.

The bottom line is while the Chicago Invitational Challenge has me expecting success from NU the rest of this season; I expect a next year to be even better. However, I also expect next year to be even more challenging and believe Jeff Ryan’s experience as a fifth year senior would help NU meet that challenge.

8 comments:

G1000 said...

Offering Ryan a scholarship would also be the right thing to do. He's been a pretty good player for Northwestern over the past few years, and deserves it.

NUUM said...

I agree. It is the right thing to do, something that is too rarely done these days. What a great example to set for NU's players and students.

TDC Mole said...

Any updates on the status of his injury? Has the surgery been completed? We saw from the early season struggles of Corey W that recovery from ACL surgery is not a minor thing. While Jeff has been a positive contributor to the program, I'm wondering if the likelihood or a complete recovery in a year has to play a factor into this decision. . .

matthewesnow said...

The BTN broadcast noted this weekend that he will have surgery after finals.

TDC Mole said...

So, at best, he's going to start rehabbing the knee in March or April. I know Jeff never wowed us with his athleticism, but my inclination is to think that if Tavaras can find another player to fill that spot, he will. . .

Ryan said...

I've heard Jeff will have surgery in late December. Bottom line, though, if NU offered point guard Pe'Shon Howard as Rivals in now reporting (which means NU did offer) that seems to show NU is looking to move forward and will fill Jeff's spot.

Schell said...

couldn't one of the guys we're recruiting now redshirt a year?

TDC Mole said...

Even if a guy redshirts, he still gets a scholarship, so that doesn't help.

Don't get me wrong. I love the way Jeff plays, and he's a credit to the program, but based on our recent experience with Corey, I don't see it extremely likely that Jeff's going to be a major contributor coming off major knee surgery in December.