POD: One Fans's State of the Program Post

POD: One Fans's State of the Program Post

Is it too early for this? I'm done with the team for this season - the NIT is probably out of reach now and all our chances for home upsets squandered. So where does this season, the down season we all expected, leave us?

So tell us how you feel....
But before I start, let me write the disclaimer that many others are more qualified to write this than me, so I welcome replies to this post or new posts.  But don't simply criticize or apologize - evaluate!
Season Summary
There's no question that the non-conference season exceeded and raised expectations - then the Big Ten season sent them crashing down.  I think the reality of it is that Craig Moore and Vince Scott are athletically outmatched in the Big Ten, and seeing it night after night affected their games for the worse - during non-conference, it was those two who helped us exceed expectations.

Tim Doyle was excellent all year, and deserves congratulations on a great senior season. And deserves apologies from the naysayers.  Only wish he had become less of a team player more quickly; when he started asserting himself late in the season the team got better.

Kevin Coble exceeded what were high expectations coming in.  Everyone who had any hope for the team this year was basing it on someone, usually meaning Coble, stepping up among the freshmen, and he certainly delivered. In the future he needs to bulk up, become deadly from 3-space and be more attentive on defense.

Coaching looked good during pre-season, but do you blame the staff in part for not helping Moore and Scott get out of their funks? I think BC's coaching was above average overall, but not special. Our best wins were against Miami and DePaul.  Losses against Minnesota and Cornell at home are the most disappointing.

The Princeton Offense helped and hurt us.  Every time I saw this year, we jacked lots of threes, and missed more and more as the year went on.  I didn't catch tonight's game but it sounded like we took it inside a lot more.  This needs to continue.

Overall, I think this season was above average considering expectations; the future looks interesting through the prism of this season.
Long Term Overview
I write this before the "future outlook" because that will contain predictions on next year.  Really, the long term outlook is intimately linked with Carmody's future, which after the Daily Herald article and Murphy's statement that improvement was needed, is looking less secure.

I think more and more people, outside of the extremists, are agreeing that he should finish this recruiting cycle then see what happens - the difference in what people think is more centered around whether they think he will succeed or not.

After a period of sustained growth (ignoring the peaks and valleys) the first 4-5 years, the program is at a crossroads in the BC era.  The disappointment of last year and this year's expected valley have us wondering what the future holds.  I would have argued loudly with anyone (and maybe did a couple times) 2 years ago on whether Carmody was succeeding at NU, but now I have a "wait and see" attitude. Witness:

I think the recruiting is a wash. We probably are at a low in starting talent right now for the Carmody years - discounting his first year, he has had more good talented players (VV, Mo, Jitim, TJ, Tavares) every other year - this year the only player in that category would seem to be Coble, who may be the second coming of VV (limited athlete, unique style, great results). 

However, depth is a strong suit, comparatively, and certainly you can't completely discount Tim Doyle's unique talents [that] he brought to the floor.  Next year I expect we will discover that MT2 [Michael Thompson] and either Mike Capocci or Jeff Ryan will be added to the list of good talent, and it's very likely that the class of 2008 could make or break BC talent-wise, since if he makes progress in the next recruiting cycle the inroads he has made in the Chicago area could pay great dividends.  And remember, it took Bill Foster 8 years to land his best recruit at NU.

As for the PO [NU's version of the Princeton Offense] and 1-3-1 [zone], many people still don't believe in them but I think they have gained support over the year.  Certainly the success that West Virginia has had after suffering heavy graduation losses both helps and hurts support for Carmody - both validating the system and raising the question "why can't he do the same thing here?" 

My view is that Carmody is much more flexible than he is given credit for, and is an overall strong tactician, but needs to somehow address the incredible beating we take on the boards - although I believe part of that is based on reputation, i.e. we don't get the calls we deserve on the boards because of our deficiencies. 

Recruiting could play a big part here, and it sounds like we are looking at a lot of Chicago-area guys who could help on the boards.
Short-term future
I think the most pertinent question is "Will we be competitive next year?"  Probably no one really knows.  Doyle will be a heavy loss, but Vince Scott can be replaced - if we have anyone to replace him with.  Questions for next year seem to be the following:
1a.  How much will we miss Timmy D?

1b.  How good will Coble be without him?

2.  Will we have enough depth and skill at center to avoid being beaten to a pulp?

3.  How good are the newcomers, especially MT2 who will start if he is any good?

4a.  Will the real Craig Moore stand up?

4b.  And if that person is the one we've seen lately, will Nash or Williams win the job?

5.  Can a team with only one known commodity compete in the Big Ten?

6.  Who will start next year?

7.  What will our record be?

8.  Should we expect to compete in 2008-09?
My Answers:
1.  a) A lot, and b) very good.  Coble will be considered a Northwestern great by the time he's done, barring injury, but without TD next year he will struggle to lead the team, especially since he's best when being put in position to score by the offense.

2.  Yes, if we sign Isaiah Martin.  Baran will be serviceable, I predict, on the level of Davor, not anything special but enough to keep us afloat.  Ryan will be a surprise backup at center, and give us acceptable rebounding and offense but scary post defense.
 [Think Baran will surprise us all]

3.  MT2 will start and contribute immediately.  He will be compared both favorably and unfavorably to TJ Parker, and will give us chances to run that Moore and Jason didn't.  Between the Croats and Capocci, one of the three will be a significant contributor, but it probably won't be Pesuljic.

4.  Moore will play well enough to win the starting off-guard position, but continue to struggle with shooting consistency (though not as bad as this year's slump).  Carmody will look for a bullseye shooter in the class of 2008.  Nash will progress on a Collier Drayton curve, eventually becoming good enough of a contributor in other ways to counter the fact that he'll never be a great shooter.  I hope Sterling continues to get better, but don't predict it.  Prove me wrong, buddy!

5.  No.  We'll struggle again next year, with a record similar to this year.  Unless Carmody gets some strong signings in the fall people will be clamoring for his head this time next year.

6.  MT, Moore, Ryan, Coble, Baran.  Capocci gets significant time in a 3-forward set, and Okrzesik pushes Moore.

7.  13-18

8.  The 'Cats will surprise mightily in 08-09, with their first ever NIT bid, thanks to strong contributions by Coble and MT2 and an inspired season after 2 years of disappointment by Craig Moore, who uses great shooting and heady play to make up for a lack of athleticism. 

A solid bench and improved team athleticism makes this the best running team since Jitim's days, and Carmody once again is lauded as a coaching genius.  Oh, and since I'm dreaming, I might as well add the amazing inside impact by freshman Dunnigan, BC's best Public League recruit yet. 

But seriously, I do expect the NIT two years from now, and BC will schedule to make it happen.  19-12 in 08-09.
I'm still optimistic about the future, but more guardedly so:  even if BC doesn't make the NIT and gets fired after the 09-10 season, I'll still say that his tenure was an overall success in NU terms, a "rise to less disrespectibility," (sic) if you will.

Say what you want, but that's a fair assessment for our program.  But let's hope he breaks through and makes such qualifications unnecessary.

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