Next Year Looking More and More Like “The Year” For NorthwesternPosted by KTrahan on December 18th, 2012
Every year, the question remains the same for a Northwestern team perpetually on the bubble: Can the Wildcats sneak into the NCAA Tournament? Last summer, it certainly seemed like this could be the year that NU would make the Big Dance for the first time in school history. Bill Carmody finally had two big men, an impressive recruiting class, a graduate transfer, and a solid group of returning stars including Drew Crawford, Dave Sobolewski, Reggie Hearn and JerShon Cobb.
However, things don’t always go as planned in college basketball, and NU certainly learned that quickly this year. Cobb was suspended for the season due to academic problems, the new players haven’t adjusted as quickly as fans had hoped, and Crawford wasn’t playing at all like himself. Now, we at least have an answer for the latter issue, as NU announced over the weekend that Crawford will miss the remainder of the season to have surgery on a torn labrum. Adding Crawford’s injury to the doubts following an inconsistent start to the season, it’s looking more and more like this won’t be “the year” for the Wildcats. But could that be a good thing for NU?
Crawford will almost certainly receive a waiver for a fifth year of eligibility, meaning NU will get a full-strength Crawford next year rather than the guy who has struggled so much this season. His supporting cast next year will be better, too. Cobb, who is NU’s most talented guard, will return, along with Sobolewski and forward Nikola Cerina. The young players — centers Alex Olah and Mike Turner, forwards Kale Abrahamson and Sanjay Lumpkin, and guard Tre Demps — will all have a year of experience under their belts. The recruiting class has two talented players in top 100 point guard Jaren Sina and sharp-shooting, John Shurna-esque forward Nate Taphorn.
The depth, talent and experience of next year’s team will as a matter of fact be unmatched by any other NU team in the Carmody era. In fact, it’s probably good enough to be projected as an NCAA Tournament team even before the season begins. This year might not turn out to be “the year,” but 2013-14 is certainly shaping up well for the Wildcats. That is, if everything goes as planned, which NU more than most programs has repeatedly learned is not at all a certainty.