I've seen all I've needed to see now.
It's time for NIU to take off the gloves and fire Ricardo Patton.
In now his third season as the men's basketball coach, the Huskies have looked worse than ever. Sure, sure it's only six games into the season (they're 1-5, by the way), Xavier Silas is out, and new recruit Tony Nixon has looked good thus far.
Tread lightly Patton supporters.
The Huskies in his three seasons have been marred by lack of discipline and most importantly a lack of wins.
Fact is, this team still cannot make free-throws (53.2 percent so far) and have sent opponents to the line 26 more times (they're shooting 63.8 percent). The Huskies have taken 117 3-point shots to just 101 of their opponents, connecting on a miserable 23.9 percent.
On top of that, NIU has turned ball over 104 times in five games. That's over 20 a game. Let's not even discuss the fact that Jake Anderson is outrebounding Sean Kowal 52-38.
It's easy to blame these numbers on a lack of talent, but the talent is there. At nearly 7-foot tall Kowal should be dominating, especially in MAC play. But there's a reason he didn't last in the Big 12 at Colorado and we're seeing it now. He's not aggressive and nobody seems to want to step out their way to enforce that.
The free-throw numbers, the turnovers and the asinine amount of 3-pointers a game also go directly on Patton. It's real simple, coach, it's called practice. Obviously free-throws aren't practiced enough. Obviously this team either isn't comfortable or doesn't grasp your system. And obviously, you haven't taught them to look for good shots and that a team doesn't always need the 3-ball to climb back.
But no, the Huskies have made the same mistakes for three seasons now. Those mistakes are now called habit and a lot harder to break.
It goes to show, non-disciplined coach leads to a non-disciplined team.
That has shown throughout Patton's tenure at NIU. In two full seasons, NIU is 16-42. Sure, Rob Judson was 74-101 in his career but he turned a 5-win team to a 12-win team in one season. Followed that up with a 17-win season, a 10-20 season, 11-17, 17-11 and the first MAC West Division title in NIU history. Judson knew how to win with what he had.
Judson's recruiting ties to Illinois were also undeniable. A tie that would have brought DeKalb High School center Jordan Threloff to NIU, not Illinois State, where Judson currently coaches. And Patton? Since the days of Chauncey Billups, the old coach hasn't had too standout recruits. It was obvious when he left Colorado and landed at NIU what kind of players he recruited there. The Big 12 led kids to CU, not Patton. Those who followed Patton were Kowal and eventually Silas, nobody else. Silas tried staying his sophomore year at CU, but was dismissed from the team after averaging 12 points a game his freshman year and 9.7 his sophomore year.
Listen, I'm all for new coaches and giving them time with a new program. But when a coach all but runs out the recruits of the previous coach and continues to run that team into the ground, it is time for a change. Rich Rodriguez didn't send his Lloyd Carr guys packing and Jerry Kill has taken Joe Novak's boys to two straight bowl games.
The constant lack of discipline from a coach who preaches it, combined with a constant lack of wins, a constant brush off of the local media after road losses and a constant feeling of disappointment within the program is reason enough to send him packing.
This is the telltale year for Patton. It's his recruits (Silas, Nixon, Kowal, Mike DiNunno* and Najul Ervin) now running the show, minus the lone starting Judson holdout in Anderson. *[DiNunno was originally offered by Judson, but Patton kept the offer on the table as he committed in 2007]. It is time we finally get a clear picture of the future of NIU basketball and what type of talent Patton will bring to the MAC without the lure of the Big 12 to aide his recruiting.
If the start to this season is any indication of the rest of it, or the rest of Patton's tenure, we're in for a long ride. I say, it's time to get off that ride before nausea takes over and see if someone else can put the pieces together.