Men’s Basketball: Start NU changes at the top

Matt Baker

Albert Einstein famously said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

If that’s true, then Northwestern is freakin’ nuts.

The first nine games of the Big Ten season have followed the same script: NU hangs tough early until the opponent makes a big run and blows open the game with more than 10 minutes left.

True to form, the Cats took an 18-16 lead against Minnesota but surrendered a 13-2 run to end the first half and lead to a 92-72 loss.

It’s obvious by the 7-13 overall record that what the Cats have done this season hasn’t been working.

Coach Bill Carmody needs to do something to prevent a winless conference season and avoid alienating what little student section the team still has. A goose egg in the Big Ten would deflate next year before it even starts – and hurt whoever NU has as head coach this time next year.

Making adjustments – during games and during the season – is what good coaches, like Minnesota’s Tubby Smith, do. After the Cats took the two-point lead early Wednesday night, the Golden Gophers changed up their defense.

“They went man-to-man after that, and we didn’t change gears from zone,” Carmody said.

Minnesota made a change; NU didn’t. Minnesota exploded on a 13-2 run; NU didn’t answer. Game over.

Those little adjustments are what separate good coaches and good teams from bad ones. And so far this year, those adjustments are what have separated the rest of the Big Ten from NU.

This season is already lost; NU will extend its NIT drought to 14 years and its NCAA drought to, well, the dawn of time. So why not make drastic changes and see where it goes?

The Cats have seen success when Michael Thompson has pushed the ball up court quickly, so why not ditch the Princeton offense and watch what happens?

The zone defenses aren’t working, as shown by Minnesota’s 92 points. Why not try man-to-man?

Bench Sterling Williams for Jeremy Nash. Give young guys like freshman Mike Capocci more playing time. Heck, throw in Tonjua Jones or Patrick Houlihan. Couldn’t hurt.

I asked Carmody after the game what NU needs to do to save the season and steal a win. After some suggestions about better defense and boxing out, he finally shrugged.

“If I knew the answer, we probably would have tried to do it,” he said.

After 13 straight conference losses going back to last season, Carmody doesn’t have the answers.

If he doesn’t find them soon, then NU’s changes have to start with him.

Deputy sports editor Matt Baker is a Medill senior. He can be reached at [email protected]