With the loss to Penn State on Thursday NU will be the sure #11-seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Before that they travel to play at Michigan State on Sunday. The team enters the game amongst increasing speculation on the future of their head coach and coming off a disappointing and emotional loss on Thursday night.
This season has totally crashed and burned since Jared Swopshire went out with an injury at Iowa. At the time NU was 4-6 in the Big Ten and was within four points of the Hawkeyes in their home court. Swopshire was clearly NU’s best all around player and probably deserves the team’s MVP award despite only playing two-thirds of the season considering what happened once he was gone.
So the Wildcats have trudged along without Swopshire and their season has suffered. Dave Sobolewski was clearly devastated after fouling out on Thursday and he’s perhaps struggled the most without Swop. It seems like for Sobo to take on the secondary scorer role was just too much to ask and as a result he’s gone from a guy who can have a very nice game as a third or fourth scorer (who is defended by the third or fourth best defender) to a guy who can barely dribble (let alone score) when he’s defender by one of the other team’s top defenders. Reggie Hearn seems to have suffered too, though, not as much, with having to be the focus of the other team’s scouting report without Swop to help take the pressure off of him inside.
All these issues have resulted in losses piling up and people piling on Bill Carmody. Right or wrong most speculation has him out of Evanston at the end of the season. I honestly converted from someone who was luke-warn on Carmody to someone who thought he did a good job at NU and despite this season I tend to remain in Carmody’s camp. This team suffered so many injuries I can’t believe any coach could have won with them about Swopshire’s injury became the final straw to break the camel’s back. Plus, when we look to the future Carmody is the one who assembled a team for next season that fits his style of play. How does NU win in another style without a collection of great one-on-one athletes? I don’t think they do. So is it really worth firing Carmody and suffering another season like this one? I don’t think so. Tough as last year’s closes losses were I’d trade last season for this one in an instant