Nadkarni: Change necessary to revive Cats’ tourney hopes

Rohan Nadkarni

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I can’t believe it’s already Winter Quarter. Coming back from break, a real theme on campus seems to be change.

My classes have changed, my sports editor changed, and even the year changed since the last time I wrote a column. (I know – I missed you, too.) But one group that really needs to pick up on this idea of change is the men’s basketball team.

You know how every day you look at the desserts in the dining hall, and you see that one brownie that looks so tempting? But you also know that as soon as you bite into that brownie, it’s going to be a mess of dry, crumbly cake. Well, that’s how I feel about our basketball team.

Coach Bill Carmody and the gang tempt me every week with the appetizing play of forwards John Shurna and Drew Crawford, but once you sink your teeth into this team, they fall apart.

This season began with promise. However, the hot start was cooled by an icy Baylor squad many moons ago. Since that game, the Cats have looked more like an NIT bottom-dweller than a potential bracket-buster.

This year’s basketball team is little substance and even less style. Sometimes I wonder how Shurna and Crawford could ever be at the top of the conference in scoring because watching the offense can be harder than sitting through your Monday morning lecture.

I remember sitting in the student section during the Illinois game, watching the offense disappear in the second half and crawl into its shell like a scared turtle. At that point, I actually wished that I had skipped the game entirely and instead finished some homework. The basketball team is sucking the fan out of me.

So what needs to be done? It’s time to blow things up. This team needs an overhaul so badly even the health care system laughs at how incompetent our basketball program is.

First things first, the Princeton offense needs to go. Why can’t they run a Northwestern offense? I thought they were better than the Ivy League anyway. In all seriousness, the offense needs a lot of work.

Senior center Luka Mirkovic, bless the guy’s heart, should not be the lynch-pin holding our offense together. The team needs to be less reliant on threes, and find an offense that can work when outside shots aren’t falling.

A team that can’t shoot is like a comedian who can’t tell jokes. The Cats should consider using some Shurna-Crawford pick-and-rolls so its two best scorers are involved on the same play and defense is forced into a tough spot. Using an athlete like JerShon Cobb more frequently could also help the Cats develop an offense that attacks the basket.

Crawford is the best on the team at creating his own shot. The coaches can try putting him in more isolation situations and running Shurna around on screens Reggie Miller-style. These are just a couple of suggestions on how this offense could run differently.

I hate saying someone should be fired. In the sports world, we often take for granted how precious jobs are, and being fired is a serious event. My point is, I’m not saying Billy Carmody should be let go. The catch is that it’s time for Carmody to retire the famous offense he helped create, and try to infuse life into his team by making changes.

It’s obvious to every fan that at the current pace of the men’s basketball squad, an NCAA Tournament bid is not in the future. If Billy Carmody and his staff don’t make the right adjustments, a new head coach could be one of the changes come spring.

Rohan Nadkarni is a Medill freshman. He can be reached at