Its interview between WSCR's Terry Boers and NU Coach Bill Carmody...
Terry Boers: We will be visiting with one of our favorite guys.
He is really one of the more brilliant guys in all of college
basketball; Bill Carmody from Northwestern is on the phone. Hello Bill.
Bill Carmody: Fellas how we doing? Watch out for that brilliant stuff, all right? Expectations will start to get a little too high for me.
Dan Bernstein: That's what we were talking about when we
discussed the fact that we were going to be talking to you today. Can
Northwestern be something more than just a pain in the ass to everybody
else in the Big Ten?
Carmody: I hope so. When I came here, I sort of thought that
there was an opportunity here, and I still think that. But we really
haven't done anything except be a pain in the neck and other places.
Last year we were 8-8 in conference, but we played very poorly in early
December. We are going to have to see this year and come out before we
get into conference play and play well, and then continue that through
Boers: I guess Bill, though, really it sort of starts with being
a pain in the heiny, though right? I know that's not enough for you and
the other folks at Northwestern, but it's not a bad jumping off point
that already you've kind of got people's attention about what can
happen with this team.
Carmody: Last year we were 6-2 at home in the conference, but we
were 2-6 on the road. You always have to start winning your games at
home, and the last few years we have. Now, can we maybe be 7-1 at home
and still have a slip up? On the road instead of 2-6 can you go 3-5?
All of a sudden you are 10-6 and that is usually a pretty good record
in the Big Ten.
Bernstein: How do you replace what Jitim Young did for you?
Carmody: It's a different team, that's all I can say. That guy
meant everything to us, on the court, off the court, in the locker
room. I'm sure a lot of stuff happened that he just took care of, you
know. I just look at it as a different team. Even if Jitim came back
this year, it's still a different team because guys are older. We have
four starters back. His personality was very strong. Maybe some of the
guys could have done some things last year that they didn't do, but now
that he's not there, they sort of poke their head up. I come from a big
family, and I could never beat my older brothers at anything, and one
time all of a sudden I did, and then I realized, 'Hey, I could have
been doing this all along.' So, I have some guys: Vukusic, Duvancic, TJ
Parker, and Mohamed Hachad. These guys have been around and played a
lot of minutes, and now it is time for somebody to poke their heads
forward and take over.
Boers: How carefully, and we've probably asked you this before,
how carefully when it comes to recruiting do you have to recruit guys
and kids that fit into what you want to do? And is your system flexible
in any way shape or form that when you have a great player that maybe
is not exactly Bill what you want, but is somebody that can kind of be
what you want in the end?
Carmody: I think that is just really overrated, that this is not
a flexible system. I think I said on this show last year that I see the
Nets doing it with this guy
Kenyon Martin. He's running all of this stuff the same way we did at
Princeton, and we are trying to do here. I'm saying if there was ever a
guy I thought would never be able to do it, it's Kenyon Martin. But
when he cuts back door, they don't bounce him a pass, they throw it up
in the air and he stuffs it. So, you make adjustments to the talent
level you have, but he just said, 'Man, I love this stuff because I'm
getting a lot of dunks.' Well, the coach looks each year at his players
and we have some guys that can actually get up in the air a little bit,
so we might throw the ball in the air to a couple of guys this year.
I look for the same thing everybody looks for: guys that can dribble,
guys that can pass, shoot, and compete. We want them to work hard when
they are out there.
Bernstein: Do you mean that Kit Miller and Artie Duncan couldn't have finished off some of those lob passes with tomahawk jams?
Carmody: Wow, you are talking about two guys who are cemented to
the floor, holy mackerel. Two terrific players, but they weren't high
risers, let's just put it that way.
Boers: When you look at this then, are kids excited about what
you are doing there? You mentioned 8-8 in the Big Ten, certainly
nothing wrong with that, a great starting point. But you get the image
Bill, and you kind of think 'Who really wants to do it? Who really
wants to do what Bill Carmody does?' I guess there are other programs
in a lot of places that kids would just be excited about. How do you
get that kid, not just to buy into what you do, but to make him excited
about what you do?
Carmody: I think that is a legitimate question. We have this guy
Michael Thompson. He is a Joliet kid. He went to Duke, and he didn't
get much playing time there, and he's back. Here's a kid, and he's
about 6-10 and people call him athletic. He runs and jumps, and he's
strong, but he doesn't really have any bread and butter stuff. If he
stands at the top of the key he will make three out of ten in practice,
maybe four out of ten. That's not good enough because there's some
slippage in a game. You have the ball with his back to the basket on
the block, and if you get on one side of him, he is pretty good like a
lot of guys are. If he has the ball directly, he is like Bill Laimbeer
a little bit. He couldn't post, you me, or a lot of people up, he would
take the turn around jump shot. That's what Mike has now. He's never
dribbled the ball. He's always been a big guy and strong. I'm saying,
'Can you get out there and can you dribble the ball a little bit? Can
you make a pass? Can you make a cut? Can you do some other things and
try to improve as a basketball player?' What if Magic Johnson's grammar
school coach, or high school coach said 'Hey when you get that rebound,
throw it to the little 5-7 guy, don't you dribble the ball.' Think of
all the fun we would have missed out on. Larry Bird wouldn't have taken
all those long shots if when he was a sophomore in high school his
coach told him to get on the blocks and post up. We would have missed
out on a lot of stuff. I am trying to expand the games of all these
guys and see if they can do a little more. If they can't, I recognize
that in a few weeks, basically.
Bernstein: Isn't it a little late at the college level?
Carmody: Not if they haven't been exposed to it. I don't know if
you remember Tavarus Hardy. He is another Joliet guy, and when I came
here, he had already played two or three years here and he had never
taken a three point shot. I think maybe he took thirteen shots, and he
was o-for-thirteen and they were all at the buzzer kind of thing. So, I
played three on three with him and his shot looked pretty nice. So, I
sat him at the top of the key and he made like eighteen out of
twenty-five. He never did it, so we started working him. All of a
sudden in his senior year he made about forty threes. He hadn't been
exposed to it. Now, if he had been trying it all his life and wasn't
very good at it, then you know. I just like to give these guys a chance
because some people just get categorized as a one or a two or a three
or a four, and they don't become basketball players.
Bernstein: Do you have to be very aware of becoming too
scoutable over the course of a season? I would think a more system
reliant coach has to be a ruthless self scout going into each match up,
and say, 'Look, we've just given them too much to take away from us.'?
Carmody: I think what you do, and most programs you are
continually changing. Some of the things you are doing now in November
and December, you find out in these early games what you are good at
and not so good at. Then you always have adjustments and sort of
counters to the things you are doing. I am sure this happens in
football, too. You know that they know, so you are going to do
something that looks just like that, but the result might come in a
different way. So, you are always improving it and shaping it during
Boers: As we let you go Bill, let's talk about the Big Ten a
little bit. I guess the Illini and Michigan State, surprise, surprise,
sort of listed at the top. Michigan has to be considered up near the
top as well, finally they have started to turn this thing.
Carmody: Yeah, Michigan was sort of like us last year. They had
a bad early part of the year. I don't know if it was bad, but they
didn't do as well as they thought they should with the players that
they have, and they have some good players. Then they sort of grew as
the year went along and turned it into an NIT Title.
Wisconsin's also going to be very good. I know they lost Harris, but
they red shirted a couple of big kids and they got a transfer in, so I
think that is going to be a very good team. It's the usual suspects, I
mean come on. It's the same teams that have always been there, and
somebody's going to knock them off.
Iowa is going to be another team. They have the whole team back, and a
very good transfer, maybe their best player from Iowa State.
If we were down last year as a conference, and most people think that
we were, I think we are going to be a lot stronger this year.
[Thanks to the Illiniboard for the transcript]