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The NUmbers Guy: Bill Carmody – Boon or Bane

Jim Sannes breaks down Bill Carmody’s tenure at Northwestern by the numbers.

All right, sports fans, it has been a few days since we found out that Northwestern would not be in the NCAA Tournament. I don’t know about you, but I have spent that time angrily shouting jibberish at passers-by on the street and selling my tears as lubricant. A lot of the anger of the Wildcats fan base has been directed at coach Bill Carmody. Now, I’ve never met Carmody myself, but I’m told by a reliable source (ahem, Erin Jentz) that he’s actually a sweet guy. If I judged the man based on what I’ve heard over the Twittersphere the last few days, I’d think that he had opened Pandora’s Box, killed Kenny and shot JR. Obviously, this is not true, so it’s time for us to take an objective look at Bill Carmody so we can see what the numbers – both good and bad – say about the leader of the Cats.

.485: Carmody’s career winning percentage with the Cats.

At face value, this number is not outstanding. However, when you look back at the winning percentages of the previous seven coaches at NU (.349, .321, .277, .339, .336, .297, .462, respectively), Carmody looks a bit like Mark Sanchez in a Speedo (really good). The last time that a coach had a winning percentage this high was Bill D. Rohr, who had an identical winning percentage when he left the program in 1963. When was the last winning percentage higher than .485? Dutch Lonborg at .538 over 23 seasons from 1927-1950. Over the last four years, Carmody’s winning percentage is .583. Once you put Carmody’s winning percentage in context of the program’s history, it doesn’t look that bad.

19: Counting NU’s victory over Akron on Tuesday in the NIT, Carmody has won at least 19 games each of the last three seasons.

Before 2010, Northwestern had never won more than 18. Of the top eight winningest seasons in Northwestern history, six have come during the Carmody era, the lone exceptions being in 1983 (18) and 1931 (16). I’m not going to bust into my T-Pain voice and say, “All he does is win, win, win, no matter what,” but it certainly does appear as though Carmody has made this program as successful as it has ever been. Instead, let’s roll with Drake’s, “Best I Ever Had,” and sing, “Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin’ with no make-up on. That’s when you’re the prettiest; I hope that you don’t take it wrong.” Unless you’re into seeing Bill Carmody in purple eye-liner. To each his own.

.417: Carmody’s conference winning percentage the last four seasons.

This has generally landed NU in the lower-mid section of the conference standings, part of the reason the selection committee has neglected to call their name yet. Teams in the Big Ten have gotten used to the “Princeton Offense” enough where they can generally stop it now, and NU’s defense hasn’t been good enough to make up for the difference. You can blame it on Carmody if you would like, but I’m going to blame it on this “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” stuff. While I think it’s brilliant marketing, it means NU is part of the town that isn’t meant to win. Ever. They’re supposed to be the lovable losers. I propose we change it to “Boston’s Big Ten Team” (proximity be darned!) so I can actually root for Tom Brady’s locks of love and not feel like the anti-Christ.

2-7: NU’s record this season in “close” conference games.

For the purposes of this stat, we are defining “close” as games decided either by five points or less or in overtime. The three biggest games this season – overtime losses to Michigan and Minnesota and the second game against Ohio State – were all considered close games lost by the Cats. Often, a coach’s ability is determined by his record in close games, and Carmody’s was not good this year. Maybe if JerShon Cobb’s arms were an inch longer or Tubby Smith didn’t have secret Teletubby mind powers, this record would have been better. However, it’s not, and these types of games are what determine whether or not a team is tournament-worthy.

A bajillion: The number of tweets containing #firecarmody after Thursday’s loss to Minnesota.

Okay, so two problems with this: 1) Bajillion isn’t a number. I’m sure you’re all shocked that I would mislead you; that never happens. 2) I don’t actually know the real number because Twitter doesn’t keep tweets in their search function that long. But, the point is that there were a lot of tweets calling for Carmody’s head. Granted, it wasn’t as many as one of the generic, “#BestThingAboutBeingSingle” hash-tags, but it was substantial enough where my timeline was full of them. By the way, the #BestThingAboutBeingSingle is being able to write these articles wearing as much or as little clothing as I wish. You’re welcome.

So, what have we learned today, kiddos? First, Carmody has led this program from its dark past to a partly sunny with a 40% chance of rain present. Second, NU can’t pull it out in close games, for one reason or another. Third, a lot of people blame Carmody for the team’s inability to get into the NCAA tourney. Finally, fourth, I write these columns naked. You should take all of these factors into account as you formulate your opinion of Carmody. Personally? I’m not going to say what I think because I no longer have any credibility after what I have divulged here today. However, we do want to know what you think. Send your opinions on Carmody (positive or negative) to @JimSannes or @WNURSports on Twitter. Should he back next year? Should he wear a tie? Should he sacrifice a future recruit to the basketball Gods? Let us know! But, just make sure you think about all of the factors involved before the next time you call for Carmody’s job.

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