Two weeks before school started in the fall of 2000, Bill Carmody — the former Princeton coach — was announced as the man who would take over Northwestern's program.
I considered leaving, but teammate Tavaras Hardy, Northwestern alum Shon Morris (Big Ten Network) and Coach Carmody convinced me to stay.
I graduated in 2004 after being named First-Team All Big Ten. Carmody was named Big Ten Coach of The Year (2004), while leading our team to a conference record of 8-8 — the best a Northwestern team has finished in Big Ten play since 1968.
Since the firing of Coach Carmody, people from TV and radio shows, as well as social media contacted me to share my feelings about Jim Phillips' decision.
I really felt last season John Shurna's team had a chance to reach the NCAA Tournament. The loss against Minnesota in overtime hurt, but it provided high expectations to finally make the NCAA tournament this season.
Northwestern had a 10-4 record when Drew Crawford went down, and 13-9 when Jared Swopshire got injured. With Crawford and Swopshire done, I felt this year was geared toward building the confidence of the underclassmen. Next season, once the Wildcats get Jershon Cobb, Sanjay Lumpkin, and Crawford back, they can still compete for an NCAA berth.
Coach Carmody should have gotten one more year to coach a team at full strength. At the end of the day, basketball is a business and change is the direction Northwestern is taking. Carmody will go down as the greatest coach to ever step foot on Northwestern's campus. He has set a standard for basketball that no other coach before him had ever done.
As far as the names of people in consideration for being named head coach, Chris Collins seems to be the favorite. He is familiar with the area, and has ties to Chicago. His dad, Doug Collins, was a tremendous player and he's a good coach. Tavaras Hardy was promoted last season to Associate Head Coach, and his name has also been mentioned. Hardy lives, breathes, and thinks Northwestern University. He is similar to Pat Fitzgerald in many ways.
Whoever is named head coach has some big shoes to fill and a lot of expectations to live up to. Jaren Sina might not attend Northwestern in the fall, so recruiting is going to be important to find another elite player. I'm hoping for the best, and I want to see Northwestern become a great program with the academic reputation like Michigan, Duke, and Stanford have.
Coach Carmody, thanks for everything. I appreciate all you have done for me.