Random Thoughts: Roundball Recruiting

Lots of chatter around the basketball boards about Bill Carmody and Northwestern's lack of improvement. Is it the coach? The facilities? Recruiting? or is it just NU? daCoach wants to restart the dialogue....

So why can't the Wildcats recruit as well as, say Duke or Stanford?
The bottom line is that compared to Duke, our academic standards for athletes is higher. How do we know that?

Ask Tommy Amaker who once interviewed for and was the front runner for NU's head coach spot - or so we are told. He chose the apparently easier recruiting climate in New York, then Michigan.

Stanford has a nice sunny climate and a beach AND San Fran just up the road. Read the stories on Stanford's recruits - the weather seems to always be a factor.

Then there is NU's long time reputation as a "nerd factory" up on the north end of Chicago where only the rich snobs live. I'm sure there are stories among South Chicago kids about Evanston cops harassing them, whether true or not. It all adds to the "you don't want to go there" complex that HS kids have to deal with.

I knew the reputation of the school for its academics - I couldhave cared less because I wanted a degree that played on the Broadcast school's rep. The school's success at Football or Basketball never entered into the picture when I was looking to transfer, but I wasn't an athlete.

Many High School Senior Athletes have NFL/NBA stars in their eyes - they could care less about academics. They only want to play on TV for a "winner," and that has not been NU's overall reputation in athletics.

The women have taken the lead in changing this, and Gary Barnett, Randy Walker and now Fitz did it over on the football field. We now get into the mix for top footballers who also have academic credentials, especially in Chicago and Illinois.

But its taken a long time - 14 years ago, our coach Pat Fitzgerald played on the Gary Barnett 1995 team that started the football turnaround, He is a fierce recruiter and promotes everything that NU has to offer, including the NU alumni playing on Sunday, continuing the battle.

Basketball has more than a few alums around Chicago, notably Shon Morris and Tim Doyle, both on TV, but we really haven't had a breakthrough inner city Chicago star since Jitim Young.

I guess I could also gripe about the atmosphere at Welsh Ryan also.

Having the old Welsh Ryan Rowdies name formalized would have helped expand the game experience and trying to get more purple folks in the seats is another. I'm sure there are several studies from Kellogg trying to get a handle on this, but the secret weapon will be the alumni.

I got excited about NU sports in the late 90's during Gary Barnett's final years. I had worked at Oklahoma and saw what having a top football and basketball program could do for their school. Alumni have to talk up our experiences, especially when we happen to meet potential students.* Let them see what an NU education means.

The final word? NU's has the academic rep that most other schools wish for - but NU has to get a little "hipper" about its image in Chicago or our roundball will be in the toilet for a long long time.
- da Coach

(* and when you meet potential NU students be sure you follow the guidlines in the recruiting books)

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