6-22, 10-20, 10-20. Those are the records of Ricardo Patton's 1st three years as head of the Northern Illinois basketball program. That fact is that this team isn't any fun to watch at all. It's a different type of suffering than back in the Judson days. These Patton teams have a lot more talent and athleticism than a lot of the teams preceding them. The fact is that this team just does not play up to their potential that they're capable of. Now this can lay blame on the coaching staff or the players themselves, or both. I'm going to just put a slight weight on how the coaches didn't prepare this team for the 2009-10 season.
NIU lost one player (ONE) in Sean Smith this past off-season. This team was supposed to be leaps and bound better than last year. NIU basketball was supposed to be back! What happened??? I HAVE NO IDEA. That's the frustrating part. The defense was the same mediocre defense like last years, but the offense actually regressed from last year. I would have been fine with the Huskies shooting the lights out of the ball and winning a few offensive shootouts, but that never happened.
Regressing from a 223rd ranked Effective FG% to 310th? 3-pt shooting down from 34.4% to 30.0%?? Jake Anderson would disappear one game and Xavier Silas was never a savior like he was so hyped up to be. Mike DiNunno came out missing threes at the point and would never stop. Sean Kowal was a nice surprise in the middle, but what the heck happened to Michael Fakuade? Tyler Storm? Najul Ervin? I just don't get it and I don't think anybody watching does.
What were Judson's records like? 12-16, 17-14, 10-20, 11-17, 17-11, 7-23. The obscure fact that we won the MAC West in 2006 is completely irrelevant considering we went down in the 1st round of the tournament that year. NIU is now 0-11 in the MAC tourney since re-joining the MAC. The drought in the MAC tourney dates all the way back to 1982 when we won the whole darn thing.
How did this all come about? Let's take a look:
3/15/96 - NIU's last NCAA Tournament appearance, a 73-74 loss to Texas Tech
1997 - NIU re-joins the MAC
3/6/01 - Rob Judson hired as head coach
3/10/07 - Rob Judson fired after compiling a 74-101 record over seven years
Patton's 1st Year
3/19/07 - Ricardo Patton is hired as head coach
4/9/07 - Patton completes his coaching staff
5/11/07 - Patton inks Najul Ervin (3 yrs) and Sean Smith (2 yrs)
Dominique Johnson signs with the Huskies,never enrolls.
Patton's 2nd Year
Jerwin Callaway, Keith Smith & Xavier Silas (transfer, 2 yrs) sign with the Huskies
5/16/08 - Ante Dzepina (2 yrs) signs with the Huskies
Patton's 3rd Year
11/13/08 - Tony Nixon signs with the Huskies
11/11/09 - Nate Rucker signs with the Huskies
2/21/10 - Kyree Jones signs with the Huskies
I think it's interesting to note that 10 out of the 14 players on NIU's roster that see regular playing time were recruited before Patton even had a chance to get his feet wet. He completely demolished what was left of Judson's roster, keeping the week-old leftovers of Jake Anderson & Mike DiNunno. It just seems like those two guys are in their own world for majority of games.
His 2nd year wasn't impressive either. A couple backups and Xavier Silas, who played for Patton at Colorado.
Seeing Patton's last 3 recruits gives me hope for the future. Tony Nixon was really good at certain points as a freshman. Nate Rucker is owning everybody in Tennessee and Kyree Jones sounds like he'll be a winner at the point. Maybe Patton's recruiting is really coming around?
Isn't that exactly what we need? An extra dominant big man and someone better to run this offense at point?
We'll find out soon enough, but will that be enough for Patton to keep his job?