Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The N in NIT Stands for Northwestern

I was right the first time. This isn’t an NCAA team. They can’t rebound and their gimmick 1-3-1 defense finally blew up in their face in overtime the way I thought it would. Honestly, this is ridiculous. I know people out their love Bill Carmody and I’ll admit in many ways what Carmody has done this year has been amazing in the way he’s gotten the team to compete versus superior talent with no center and a former walk-on as a starter, however, at this point, I’m so sick of the way Northwestern approaches rebounding and defense I’m ready for another coach because after 12 years we know we’re still going to have to sit through these types of losses unless somebody shows up and teaches our players to rebound and play man-to-man defense because Bill Carmody sure won’t and I defy anybody to state otherwise. The worst part of this whole thing is I’m starting to think in some ways making the tournament would be the worst case scenario because we still won’t rebound or play defense and then people will start to think that’s okay. Guess what in the game of basketball not rebounding or playing man-to-man defense is NOT OKAY! Just please don’t let Phillips hire Bruce Weber who has managed to supervise one of the biggest collapses in Big Ten history (you know Illinois was in first place at 5-1 in early February) or Chris Collins whose never been a head coach and who hasn’t been anywhere except Duke and who people only like because he played for Duke. Bill Foster coached Duke to the Final Four. How’d that hire work out for Northwestern? I thought so. Hell, if you want a guy from the state of Illinois who hasn’t been a head coach hire Jerrance Howard at least he’s been in the state of Illinois to recruit more than one player in the last 15 years. Plus, it would drive all the U of I fans nuts to see Jerrance running the show in Evanston.

I guess the only positive here is that Northwestern should get a really high NIT seed. Of course, I’m not sure after all the NCAA hype that it’ll matter to NU’s players, but at least I hope they’ll take some pride in their efforts and play hard. I’m let’s been honest, they’re still the Northwestern basketball team. They aren’t too good for the NIT.

This game was the most physical game I’ve seen this year in the Big Ten and I just don’t think Northwestern responded to Michigan’s physical effort other than a really nice game by Davide Curletti. John Shurna clearly looked like he didn’t have anything left late for the second time in three games and JerShon Cobb left his shots short all night looking like he simply isn’t in basketball shape yet. Perhaps, with Cobb getting in better shape Northwestern might have a shot at Michigan if the play in the Big Ten Tournament, after all, they lost in overtime twice to the Wolverines who are ranked in the top-15 in the nation. The problem is that at this point the Big Ten Tournament might be the best hope Northwestern has for an NCAA bid.

The fact is that this game was won by Michigan in a lot of ways and their physical presence is one of the biggest reasons, but I still place this on defense and rebounding. Statistically it looks like Northwestern wasn’t terrible in those areas, but Michigan made huge plays on offensive rebounds which turned the game on several occasions. Even worse, Northwestern still can’t play man-to-man defense for any length of time. That’s a problem and I it doesn’t seem any chance exists to correct it.

I guess my problem with Bill Carmody is that he doesn’t seem to be able to self-evaluate. If your team hasn’t played man-to-man defense or rebounded for 12 years don’t you think you’d try to something about that? Those are major areas of basketball! I know I would. Carmody apparently is too stubborn to do so and his team might luck out and make the tournament if they shoot well down the stretch, but if they shoot like they shot tonight making only three three point shots for less than 20% for the game that isn’t going to happen.


Glenn said...

Did you see the quote Carmody gave to the Daily Northwestern?

"We clearly got beat badly off the boards (against Minnesota)," Carmody said. "But that's been our MO for a number of years. Could we be better at it yet? Yeah, but I don't know. It's rough. I don't think there are any drills you can do."


I thought Carmody has one more year left on his contract after this one. I don't see enough to earn renewal at this point, unprecedented success to date notwithstanding.

I think the 3 (and presumably 4, barring winning out the conference schedule) NIT bids are great but it took a long time (plus the team's all-time leading scorer) to get there, and had NU gotten to the NIT in 2002 or 2004 or 2006 like they should have, this recent run of success wouldn't be so great in comparison.

Ryan said...

That quote really doesn't look good. I mean even I know there are drills you can do for rebounding. And, okay, I get that it might be somewhat out of context, but the bottom line is it does seem to show that rebounding isn't a real high concern for Carmody despite the fact that his teams often lose games because they can't rebound. I don't see how more people can't see that as a problem, yet, some people are going to love the guy no matter what and never admit he has any flaws. I like the guy, but he's got some major, major flaws which when not fixed over 12 years probably mean it's time to go.

Bob Dettman said...

Another nagging issue is free throw shooting, which you can practice. We should always be near the top of the B1G in FT% but we never are. BC needs to move on for everyone's sake.

Clecago Joe said...

Oh just stop. This roller coaster ride you are on with every game is silly. We took the #11 team in the nation to OT with our second best player only able to play 27 of 45 minutes due to injury. If we had made a shot down the stretch and won you would be praising Carmody as a master of the matchup.

We are a bubble team. We have been a bubble team since the beginning of the season. While you have been riding your one man rollercoaster, the team has been on a level merry-go-round of "so close".

Yes we suck at rebounding and D in general. We are always the less athletic team on the court. We have to make up for that somehow and Carmody knows that his various defenses make up for the inferior athletisism, especially the 1-3-1. Of course we will get outrebounded. We have Sobelewski (and Juice before him) playing one of the wings in the zone. Carmody is giving up some rebounding positioning in exchange for forcing tougher shots for the opponents. And before you say the lack of athletisism is Carmody's fault, just remember that this is the most athletic bunch the program has probably ever had and it keeps improving each year.

As far as firing Carmody, if you think someone else can come in here and produce a better product without the "gimicks" Carm uses, you are mistaken. Northwestern has the worst basketball history of any major (and maybe mid-major) conference team. High school stars will not come here over any other decent offer. Our offers always have to be to the unnoticed. Carmody and his staff have done an amazing job of recognizing those unnoticed high schoolers. I know you know, but I think the past few years of semi-repectability have clouded your memory of just how bad this program is historically. 30 years of last place! Carmody has lifted this program to a level it has not seen in 7 decades, but somehow that only bought him 2 years before he has to lift them to new heights again.

If there was a coach that we could bring in to do that lifting faster than Carmody, I would say "fine, go for it". But the coaches that could bring that instant respect to our program are few and far between and they generally have their pick of programs.

As long as each year Carmody brings in a better class than the one leaving, we are making progress (yes Shurna is leaving but so are our 2 centers and Fruendt). Until I see a regression in the quality of players he gets in here, he deserves to stay.

Herman said...

Well said, Clecago. We are almost always at a disadvantage athletically to our opponents in the Big Ten. We get killed in man-to-man because for the most part, we don't have the quickness. How many times do you see Sobolewski get completely blown by in man? Curletti/Mirkovic can not handle the post over the long haul in man to man. Notice that during the non-conference season, we regularly out-rebound and out-defense inferior opponents. In the Big Ten, that reverses. It is not the schematics. It is the talent. Carmody bears some blame for the talent deficit, but there are reasons that go way beyond Carmody for the talent.

Glenn said...

Unfortunately, the talent deficit is not the only problem here.

I don't think Carmody has done a good job with clock management and planning/practicing for late-game situations.

How many games now have NU had the chance to win but have been unable to convert in the last minute of the game? This is the 4th such game this year. Last year, there were another 3 or 4 similar games, with only 1 win (vs. Illinois). We are 1-7 in OT games over the past three years.