The transcript of the coach interviews at Big Ten Media Day, which was on Thursday, are available online on the Big Ten's website. I took the time to parse through what Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said and pull out what I thought would impact the team this season.
For instance, Carmody said this about how his team could break into the top of the Big Ten this season: "I just think it's consistency. You have to there's some teams that are on the verge of breaking through, say into the top 5, which basically guarantees you a place in the tournament."
Yes, consistency is important, but what about defense? You know what the top three teams in the Big Ten always have? Good defenses. Last season Michigan State ranked 30th, Purdue 3rd and Ohio State 24th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Wisconsin, which finished fourth, was 19th. I'm seeing a trend here. On the other hand, Northwestern finished 169th. That's where the real problem is. I was shocked he didn't mention it at all - and that no one asked him about it, especially with the rumors the team will play more man defense this season.
The other interesting things Carmody said were about two of his returning players, check those quotes out after the jump.
Carmody on Juice Thompson as a leader: "He shot over 40 percent in his career from the 3 point range. And I wish he was a little more vocal at times, because he knows what to do. But he's just he's developed into one of the elite guards in this league, for sure."
It's interesting that Carmody wishes Thompson were a little more vocal considering that the point guard is often the guy that's the voice of the team. When Northwestern had a tough game last season it was Thompson that was the guy answering the hard questions. In public he seems like a very effective communicator. This seems more like Carmody trying to push someone he knows is already very good to an even higher level.
And then there is the development of Drew Crawford. As you might've heard, there are rumors that Crawford might play a bit at shooting guard this season instead of small forward. No matter what position he plays though, it's apparent to Carmody that Crawford has better prepared himself for the rigors of college basketball.
"Drew was I guess Co Rookie of the Year last year in the league," Carmody said. "And he just looks better. I've had guys in the past when they take their shirt off I don't enjoy seeing it. But he went to work in the spring, the summer, he looks good. And we spent a lot of time on his ball handling in the spring because he's good along the baseline, but now you have to we've always tried to develop our guys."
First of all, that quote there is classic Carmody. It gives you a little glimpse into his personality. But covered in the joke is that this is a big thing for Northwestern, because the Wildcats desperately need Crawford to be that go-to-guy as a third option when John Shurna, who Carmody also spoke about if you got check out the remaining quotes, and Thompson are bottled up. The Wildcats slumped last season when Crawford hit the freshman wall.
Here's hoping that wall never comes, the Wildcats get more consistent and it's an excellent season of Northwestern basketball.