Listen, I’m writing about Northwestern Basketball right NOW, while we are 5-0! We may be 5-0 but we will not be ranked in the Top 25 any time soon. We just beat Elon in Evanston the other day … in overtime! I cannot imagine what will happen when the Big 10 season starts. Nevertheless, they tell me our young players really look promising and that our second-year coach, Chris Collins, is on the recruiting trail all day long. Of course, I’m really glad we have him as our coach. He really instilled a can-do attitude in the team last year and even pulled off a few upsets.
So, this is really, as they say in Europe, Year Zero. That is, this is his first recruiting class. I want to see what he can do with four classes he has recruited. As for now, I’m just hoping he can move us to the NIT by next year and a .500 record in the Big 10 the next year. Neither of those will be easy to accomplish. As always, the big problem with basketball at NU is quality depth. It’s the same as with our football team. The other Big 10 schools just wear us down with talent and numbers. We play well for three quarters and then just don’t have enough manpower to finish it off.
As the world knows, we are one of the few major schools that has never been to the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, I think we have a chance to change that under Chris Collins, the perfect hire to run our program. Actually, in the past, we should have made a couple of NCAA Tournaments. We were Big 10 Champions in 1931 and 1933 … but the NCAA started in 1939, with the final right there on our Northwestern campus, in the old Patten Gymnasium, which was torn down immediately after that to make room for the new Technological Institute, the new Patten Gym going up a few blocks north.
Then, before the NCAA expanded, we had several teams that should have gone, as in 1958 and 1959. But, the NCAA was only taking conference champions back then and Indiana won the Big 10 in 1958 and Michigan State won it in 1959. After that, the bottom fell out of the program and not even expansion of the NCAA Tournament could rectify the situation. Well, if you ask me, I’d prefer to have 12 solid basketball players at NU instead of one super star and 11 guys that are just so-so. Again, that’s depth. And, if you have 12 solid guys … one emerges as a super star!