Saturday, April 30, 2011

John Cannon Picks Georgia over Northwestern

Well, once again Northwestern loses out on a recruit. This time 6-10 center John Cannon picked UGA over NU. The lack of ability to close the deal with recruits hasn’t hurt NU yet, but that’s because of a very strong class which will be seniors next year. After next season, NU is in big trouble without an influx of talent showing up because next year’s sophomore and junior classes combined total three scholarship players. Rumor has it NU is still recruiting a JUCO big man for next year and I really hope they can close the deal with him because if not the positive steps Northwestern basketball hasn’t will fall backwards simply due to lack of players.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Few Quick Thoughts/Updates

First of all, congratulations to Mitch Henderson on being named head coach at Princeton. I’m sure it is very exciting for Mitch to get his first job as a head coach and even more exciting that he gets the job where he starred as a point guard. Of course, Mitch’s departure means that NU is in the market for a new assistant coach. The obvious on staff choice would be simply to promote Joe Kennedy from Director of Basketball Operations. However, I’m not sure that with him having only one year in that job if NU will decide to go that director for Joe. The argument is that he was really as an assistant coach for most of his playing career as we all remember him activity coaching from the sidelines, but it might benefit him to get a little more experience before being a paid assistant in the Big Ten. Of course, the popular choice would have to be Jitim Young who I consider Mr. Northwestern Basketball, but I’m not sure Jitim is ready to give up on playing just yet. Still, if I were Bill Carmody I would gauge Jitim’s interest. Another possibility is Nate Pomeday who currently works for Craig Robinson at Oregon State, but who, aside from playing at NU, has Midwestern roots. I’d look at him as a serious candidate.

As Coach Henderson leaves, his last effort for NU was the attempt to recruit center John Cannon. Cannon, a product of North Carolina, is in the final stages of deciding between NU and Georgia for college. He says that Henderson departure doesn’t make a difference, but I’m a little worried he scheduled a return trip to UGA for this weekend. If NU doesn’t sign Cannon this will be yet another spring where NU came close to adding a big man, but couldn’t close the deal.

John Shurna declared for the NBA draft, but didn’t hire an agent. Basically, this pretty much means that he is likely to come back to school, but wants to see what the NBA thinks of him. Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson did the same thing last spring. It does seem to be a good process to go through for college players because they get an honest outside critique of their game from experts. I suspect Shurna will be back in Evanston next fall, but hopefully he’ll learn something between now and then that makes it possible for him to play in the NBA in 2012-2013.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good News, No News

Well, some good recruiting news recently occurred as most of you are probably aware NU got verbals from Alex Olah and Milos Kostic both from the state of Indiana. Olah is a member of the class of 2012 and Kostic is a member of the class of 2013. Therefore, we will have to wait a bit to see both play, but the news is good in the sense that it shows NU making positive momentum forward with high school players. Ivan Vujic was the primary recruiter for both players which is also nice to see as it is good when all members of the staff clearly are involved with bringing in new talent. Mitch Henderson and Joe Kennedy were reportedly sighted giving class of 2011 recruiting target John Cannon a tour of NU last week, so hopefully Coach Henderson can pull of a recruiting get of his own to match the work done by his colleagues Vujic and Hardy. Unfortunately, we won’t know the results of Henderson’s work for a little while because Cannon plans to visit Georgia first. However, if NU can land the big man from North Carolina it will complete a pretty solid week of NU recruiting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NU with a Local Pro

Here's a short post from Amy Pooley who will be writing every once and a while for WRR in the future. Today, she talks about NU women's basketball star Amy Jaeschke who was picked by our local Chicago Sky in the WNBA draft...

The WNBA draft was just a couple days ago, and NU’s own #22 Amy Jaeschke (I’ve always said the 22 stands for double-double) was drafted by the Chicago Sky as the 27th overall pick and the third pick of the third round. This is an exciting day for Amy and for Northwestern, as she is the first Wildcat to be drafted into the WNBA and the first to be drafted by a pro basketball team in the United States since Evan Eschmeyer went to the Nets back in 2000. Amy averaged 21.4 points and 9.0 rebounds this season while tallying 104 blocks. She is the Big Ten’s 4th all-time leading shot blocker.

Amy grew up in Wilmette and attended New Trier High School, so playing for the Sky will give her the opportunity to stay near home and bring her local fan base with her. The Sky have to like having picked a potential backup to Sylvia Fowles who has such strong Chicago connections. Unfortunately, the WNBA draft isn’t the end of the road for playing on the team, as Amy and the Sky’s other draftees -- Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot, Boston College’s Carolyn Swords, and Tennessee’s Angie Bjorklund – will compete for the opportunity to wear a Sky uniform after final cuts are made. Let’s hope that Amy makes some noise on the court the next couple of months – the Sky play their first game of the WNBA season on June 4th (the first home game is the Friday afterward), and it’d be awesome to see Amy get some minutes in a Sky uniform.

Congratulations to Amy! Northwestern’s incredibly lucky to count her as an alumna, and we wish her the best of luck as she begins her pro career. We will keep you updated on how Amy’s doing over the next few months.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Future of Program Starts with Recruiting

It may be stating the obvious, but even coming off a successful season no Northwestern basketball fan should feel totally confident at future success. Why? Well, because simply stated Northwestern has never sustained basketball success over the long term because they’ve never been able to consistently recruit. That’s why even three NITs in a row is remarkable, but really NU’s attempt and sustained success (or semi-success) starts with next season. The Wildcats will have to replace Juice Thompson who was probably the most valuable player on those postseason teams and the year after will have to replace their entire front court depth chart from the past two seasons. That means that the success of this year’s freshman class and next year’s recruits (high school class of 2012) is critical. Right now, Northwestern has two quality guards signed in David Sobolewski and Tre Demps. Sobolewski is said to be more of a natural point guard whereas Demps is more of a combo guard. Both should help NU right away, though, I wouldn’t be shocked if JerShon Cobb and Alex Marcotullio start next year as NU’s backcourt simply based on experience. Northwestern also has 6-8 Mike Turner from Chicago U-High signed up to play at NU next year. Some rate Turner as a project, but his reported athletic skill does have me excited to watch him play defense. However, at just 6-8 and with a thin frame Turner likely isn’t the major cog in the front court wheel that NU desperately needs or will need in the near future. That’s why fans need to pay attention as we hit the spring signing period to see if NU can land any of their big man targets.

The name that is actually out there right now is 6-10 John Cannon from North Carolina who reportedly has another BCS offer from Georgia and a walk-on offer at North Carolina. That’s tough competition for NU, but it sure sounds like Cannon could be an impact player at NU right away while sitting on the bench at those other two schools. Hopefully, that’s something Bill Carmody tries to sell the young man on as I know that sitting on the bench is not something many former high school stars enjoy. Of course, if Cannon does go elsewhere that makes one wonder if NU will get a spring big man recruit. Rumors have also surfaced about foreign players and JUCO players, but no names have ever appeared. Perhaps NU is trying to keep their efforts under the radar, but the fact is I really think this spring’s recruiting class will say a lot about NU’s future and we as fans need to watch closely.