Watching Northwestern coach Bill Carmody sit at Sunday night’s press conference after it was announced that his team would not be in the 2012 NCAA tournament, it’s difficult not to notice the frustration.
“We’re obviously, staff and team, disappointed that we weren’t selected,” he said, leaning on the table in front of him, before trying to strike a positive note. “It’s the fourth year in a row we’re playing in the postseason.”
That’s what it has come to the last four seasons at Northwestern: no NCAA tournament, but the NIT now, once again, becomes the consolation prize for a program that just can’t seem to get over the top.
The Wildcats are a combined 75-53 in that NIT-bound stretch under Carmody, certainly having improved from the beginning of his tenure 12 seasons ago, but will that be enough for AD Jim Phillips to bring him back?
As David Haugh pointed out in a piece in the Chicago Tribune, the question has to be raised: If Carmody can’t help the Wildcats into the NCAA tournament with the school’s all-time leading scoring John Shurna, could it ever really happen?
Carmody has done much for the program in his 12 seasons. Northwestern wouldn’t be where it is, were it not for his work. The decision Phillips must make is whether Carmody has the “it” to break through and make it to the field of 68.
A deep run in the NIT would likely help his cause.
In the past three seasons, the Wildcats have had two first round exits, before a run to the quarterfinals last season.
Northwestern is seeded fourth in the tournament and will play No. 5 Akron in the first round.