Mike Turner to take leave of absence
On Sunday afternoon, Northwestern announced that center Mike Turner will take a "leave of absence," meaning that another scholarship opens for the 2014 recruiting class. Though there were no explicit character issues–given that Turner ostensibly worked hard on the court–his role would have been diminished under new head coach Chris Collins. That often occurs during coaching transition. Roles change; players are recruited over; loyalties tend to shift. NU, for several weeks, has indicated some uncertainty with the current centers. The Wildcats offered San Antonio big man Ben Lammers, which made little sense for a team with three centers. Despite his effort and contributions, the Turner-to-NU experiment failed to work out. In his one season of action, Turner made about one third of his shots, tallying 61 points and 85 fouls in 32 games. There was some contribution, but Collins did not consider him a productive long-term piece. That's not to discredit Turner's effort, and though his return to NU hoops seems improbable (realistically speaking), he did what he could for a mediocre 2012-13 squad. On the recruiting front, we can expect Chris Collins to pursue a transfer or fifth-year center. An additional and surprising piece, like Jared Swopshire last season, might vault the 2014-15 team into tournament contention. The pressure remains squarely on sophomore center Alex Olah to improve on last season's impressive freshman campaign. He'll be the only true center to have played any minutes last season, with returns on his offseason progress extremely promising. But for now, we wish all the best to Mike Turner, and can trust Chris Collins to turn this ship around.