The offseason began encompassed by disappointment and uncertainty for Northwestern and head coach Bill Carmody. Following yet another NCAA tournament miss, Carmody's job was in jeopardy as athletic director Jim Phillips mulled the basketball program's future.
Since Phillips announced his intention to retain Carmody, the program has seen a number of major changes. With new players, a different look and positive vibe, Carmody feels Northwestern is on the upswing.
"It clearly is," Carmody said to PurpleWildcats.com.
Speculation on Carmody's status did not hamper with Northwestern's recruiting efforts. During Phillips' decision process, Carmody and the Wildcats hosted their top 2013 prospect, Jaren Sina, who was impressed by the visit. He would give NU his verbal commitment on July 2.
The biggest splash for Northwestern was the addition of Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire, who also was sold on the program during his campus visit. NU also added Alex Olah when his letter of intent was faxed in on Signing Day, then 7-foot-2 center Chier Ajou finalized the 2012 recruiting class in June.
The recruiting momentum outlines positive growth for Northwestern's basketball future.
"Since the end of the season, we've gotten a lot of commitments," said Carmody. "We got Alex (Olah) after the season and after all the brouhaha. Chier Ajou, we got Swopshire, we got a commitment from a high school player (Jaren Sina). Things have changed a lot since then. It's been good."
The largest change for the Wildcats is a roster full of new talent. Northwestern welcomes four incoming freshmen and a transfer to the team, plus a transfer and freshman who are eligible after redshirting, not to mention one player who recovered from a long rehabilitation.
Fortunately for Northwestern, a new NCAA rule allows each team to put in two hours per week in practice, which has helped the Wildcats click as a team. That time is especially useful for the newcomers to get acclimated.
"It's really just teaching, learning the system a little bit," Carmody said. "When September comes around, they can just play."
One more change for the Northwestern athletic department as a whole is the transition to its new outfitter, Under Armour. Since the contract became official on July 1, the Wildcats have donned their new gear during each workout.
For Carmody, the Under Armour apparel serves as a recruiting tool which he has used to sell prospects on the program.
"Everybody loves it," he said. "They say 'Look at my body in this shirt.' All the young guys love it, they love all this stuff. I just care about the shoes. The guys like them a lot. They just care about the shorts, the sweats and the tight-fitting stuff so they can show their arms off."
With plenty of new changes to be excited about, there's certainly a new vibe for Bill Carmody and Northwestern basketball.
Video courtesy of FOX Sports Next's Beth Long.