Random Thoughts:Northwestern Basketball 2006

Northwestern Basketball could be in a state of flux after losses to Graduation, Europe and other things, but the feeling was definitely upbeat Tuesday night. daCoach didn't take notes, but came a way with many positive impressions of this season for the Wildcats.

First off, this event is not an official media event...
So nothing here is official, right? Well, I certainly won't print coach Bill Carmody's comments about his players - he can be Basketball's version of Don Rickles - but you know he really likes his players and is pushing them hard as they prep for the season.

I did sit with Kevin Coble [and NGN Pres Marilyn Zilka, and the "Lets Tailgate" folks] and for the record, Coble is a very bright, outgoing guy who apparently happens to be able to play lights out basketball.

A couple of folks who have seen practice were talking about how well Coble has grasped the NU offense and that he just might make the starting 5 come November 10th, even though he has a final the 9th, a distraction just before the season starts.

NU doesn't officially practice during exam week, but the players tend to get together to shoot a few hoops during exams.
Recruiting "down the road"
I think its obvious to anyone who is tracking NU recruiting that this year's class of 6 [plus Jason Okrzesik transfer] will represent a big part of NU's future for at least the next 4 years.

The impact on recruiting is that while the Cats have already replaced the two of the three scholarship seniors [Tim Doyle, Vince Scott and Ivan Tolic] for the 2007-08 season, Bill Carmody will have be very choosy for the next few year about who he offers for the open slots to replace the one Junior on the roster.

However, he'll have a bunch of rides to offer after the 2008 season and they're already lining up prospects to fill the six openings - the present Frosh - caused by the early departures last year. They've refilled Sterling William's class for now, but the new guys are almost half of the total team.

I wouldn't be surprised if one or two didn't redshirt.
Some things many fans outside of Evanston may not know:
  • Not a word officially about making the NCAA Tournament, although a few of the Fast Break folks think this class might be the one to finally crack the tourney. I think the players just aren't talking about the Big Dance, but it is in the back of the Senior's mind.
  • NU will start construction on new Basketball locker rooms and coach's offices behind the main floor at Welsh Ryan, where the batting cages are now and overlooking the practice court very soon. [No it won't be over where the stage for the Grateful Dead concert was built]. The facility will be a major step up, and will eventually provide enough locker rooms to hold 4 team tournaments in Evanston.
  • Ivan Tolic has lost quite a bit of weight, and appears to be ready to help in the post this year. He's also a major helper with the 2 new Croatian players as they learn American English, and Carmody speak. I think we see him on the floor a fair amount of the time, spelling Vince Scott.
  • Speaking of Scott, he went to a basketball "boot camp" this summer and worked on his physical development. He's still tall and thin [to me anyway], but looked in good shape.
  • A couple of players are fighting those early season nagging injuries, including at least one of the Croats. Ivan Peljusic [195 lbs] looks thin, and probably needs to gain a little weight to play inside in the Big 10. Carmody joked about Croatians needing to drink more milk as they grow up.
  • Bill Carmody is a big believer in consistency. He likes kids to play the same all the time, he hinted about wanting to always know how many points and rebounds a kid will give him in a game. Many of his comments about the returning players had this as the underlying issue.
  • Another thing BC apparently likes is guys who take chances with shots. While he's a big believer in the base Princeston style offense, he also wants guys to score. That theme ran through a lot of his comments.
  • Apparently a couple of the coaches are providing extra practice players again as the Cats fight through those injuries mentioned above. Good to see the assistants getting their "workouts"
  • And ... The loss of the "Lees" left a pretty big hole in the team. I talked with one insider who felt that at least one of them would have been a major contributor this year.
and a final speculation:
If the season started tomorrow, we'd see Tim Doyle at Forward, Vince Scott at center, and Craig Moore with Sterling Williams at guard. The 5th starter would probably be forward Kevin Coble, but there are a couple of folks who probably will push the issue if healthy.

Not a bad lineup, given the amount of fredshmen on the team right now. One thing that will be there is Senior Leadership, with the very vocal Tim Doyle and Vince Scott leading the 2006 team.

First off the bench, and this is pure speculation, will probably be Ivan Tolic and Jason Okrzesik. I didn't hear anything about Jean-Marc Melchior, not sure if he's not hurt, but this is the year he should make a positive move also.

[Final note: much of this is based on converations with several different people, filtered through Coach Carmody's preseason comments, and finally my impressions of things. I wouldn't take much of this as "gospel truth," but we can look back in March and see how much actually comes true.]
-- da Coach

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