Adversity happens. More importantly, it's time for Baldwin to bring some especially crucial elements to the table.
Now, more so than ever, this team needs even more leadership to guide it through the latest setback. Here are a few ways he can help.
Baldwin exemplifies the "broad-based" recruiting ties that Jim Phillips so strongly values. He worked in finding players abroad, coached at in-state Loyola for seven seasons and then worked at Missouri. Who knows where he'll focus? Regardless, one of his immediate responsibilities should involve building relationships with some of the team's top targets. They'll still try to lure guys from the Carmody era—many of whom Hardy helped to recruit.
Each coach will also play an important role in defining what sort of players come to NU. Coaches generally hold frequent meetings to discuss recruits, and try to flesh out their vision for each class. I'd like to see him focus on one target and draw an early commitment: How great would that be for the team and Baldwin's confidence? To be honest, Fred Hill recruited especially well, too. It's time for Baldwin–and the rest of this staff–to build immediate reputation. It begins on the trail now.
Individual, personal mark
Hardy certainly succeeded in exerting his personal mark on the program. He understood his goals, helped the team's recruiting and gave himself name recognition around campus. Longevity certainly helped, but Hardy loved the school and expressed his passion at every opportunity. There was no doubt: Hardy was a Northwestern guy.
Baldwin comes from a somewhat similar background, in that he played at Northwestern from 1990-94, and returns to a team needing his help desperately. It would be an added benefit to Chris Collins if his assistants showed similar passion. John Beilein's committed and energetic coaching staff at Michigan comes to mind. Baldwin has a special opportunity to help build this new-look program, and I'm excited to see what unique qualities he brings to the table.
His past experiences
I'm especially intrigued by the past stops. Though Hardy made an AAU stop with the Illinois Defenders (while also working in wealth management) before arriving at NU, Baldwin climbed the ranks in an interesting manner. He worked at Wisconsin Green-Bay, Loyola and Missouri State before taking this job—and brings several different experiences to the table.
Baldwin has witnessed diverse coaching perspectives and other student environments. It's not as though he worked with NBA teams–like James–or even felt the occasionally loud and cramped Welsh-Ryan Arena from a coach's standpoint. Some of these schools might ostensibly suffer from lack of student support, and Baldwin might know how to help rejuvenate the quiet culture. As well, in terms of strategies, he's been around the game long enough to apply some in the right situations.