Long list of candidates if NU cans Carmody

Duke assistant Collins would be at top of list if Phillips decides to make change

Bill Carmody has elevated Northwestern basketball from Point C to Point B. Or is it Z to B?

He took over after Kevin O'Neill's 1999-2000 misfits went 5-25. The point guard, Collier Drayton, was legally blind in one eye. Two years later, Carmody's crew went 16-13.

But back to the letters. These four — NCAA — have eluded Carmody in 13 years on the job. So now, like the rest of us, he wonders if he'll get one more chance with a solid nucleus of Drew Crawford, JerShon Cobb and Dave Sobolewski.

If athletic director Jim Phillips opts for a fresh start, he'll have no shortage of intriguing potential candidates to consider. Here's a list culled from various sources, in order of likelihood to be hired:

Chris Collins: Duke's associate head coach could give NU officials what they crave — a basketball version of Pat Fitzgerald. Both were born in 1974 and have a son named Ryan.

Collins not only has the Mike Krzyzewski pedigree (17 seasons as a player and assistant), but his father, Doug, has one of the game's great minds. (How about a Chris-Doug tandem in Evanston?) Collins starred at Glenbrook North, played at Welsh-Ryan Arena (losing to Stevenson in triple overtime) and in a Final Four and has recruited Chicago, using his connections to area AAU teams. He has helped sign academically gifted players and has the enthusiasm to charm the NU alumni who might contribute to a new or refurbished Welsh-Ryan. Duke's athletic director is Kevin White, Phillips' mentor.

Dave Paulsen: Won the 2003 NCAA Division III title at alma mater Williams College under President Morton Schapiro, now the head honcho at Northwestern. Has led Bucknell, a private liberal-arts school in central Pennsylvania, to three straight 25-win seasons. Worked as a graduate assistant at Michigan in 1989-90, and two of his brothers graduated from Northwestern.

Bryce Drew: Guided Valparaiso to the Horizon League regular-season title in his second season at his alma mater, where his March Madness buzzer-beater against Ole Miss is the stuff of legend. Played 48 games for the Bulls in 2000-01. Also born in 1974. Well-liked in coaching circles. Flirted with Mississippi State a year ago.

Ben Jacobson: Remained at Northern Iowa after leading the Panthers to the Sweet 16 in 2010 with a win over top-seeded Kansas. His program emphasizes defense, and he stresses academics. His team went 11-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference this season, good for third place.

Tommy Amaker: At 27, he turned down Northwestern in 1993 before Ricky Byrdsong said yes. The former Duke point guard reached a Sweet 16 with Seton Hall but went 0-for-6 in NCAA berths at Michigan, settling for three NITs instead. Has resurrected his career at Harvard, going 66-19 in the last three seasons. Personality has been described as "odd" and "phony," but others say he has been humbled and insist he would be a great fit.

Chris Mooney: Bright and engaging with a Princeton pedigree (like Carmody, for better or worse), Mooney guided Richmond to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011. His last two teams have finished in the middle of the Atlantic 10.

Seth Greenberg: Comes across well as an ESPN analyst, but the former Long Beach State, South Florida and Virginia Tech coach has a reputation for being difficult. "I'd say I'm passionate," he said. "I've taken tough jobs and made them all better." Career record of 378-283 with three NCAA tournament appearances. Schapiro almost hired him while at USC in the mid-'90s.

Dan Dakich: If Phillips is seeking entertainment value, he'll call the no-holds-barred ESPN analyst and radio talk-show host. Few know the Big Ten better, and Dakich is quasi-local (Gary, Ind.). Had enough success at Bowling Green to get an offer from West Virginia in 2002. Replaced Kelvin Sampson as interim coach at Indiana in 2008.

Tim Floyd: Bulls fans might disagree, but Floyd is a consistent winner. The UTEP coach recently met with USC athletic director Pat Haden, a sign the Trojans realize he did no wrong in the O.J. Mayo affair. His daughter, Shannon, is married to former Bears linebacker and area resident Hunter Hillenmeyer.

Fran McCaffery: A former student of Schapiro's at Pennsylvania, McCaffery surely wouldn't leave Iowa unless Northwestern offers a big raise (extremely doubtful, given his $1.3 million base salary) or he has some hidden beef with the administration.

Tavaras Hardy: He's a favorite of NU's decision-makers, and he has the strongest ties to Cobb and Crawford. (Some are concerned Crawford would transfer if Carmody is dismissed.) A potential "Basketball Fitz," he lacks head-coaching experience.

Jeff Boals/Dave Dickerson/Chris Jent: Thad Matta's assistants are all primed to get offers if Ohio State keeps winning. The Buckeyes have snatched Evan Turner, Sam Thompson and Lenzelle Smith Jr. from the Chicago area.

Greg Gard: The Wisconsin native has helped Bo Ryan win big.

Shaka Smart: It's not "Would he take the job?" It's "Would he take the call?" Considering he makes more than $1.5 million and might have his pick of a "destination" job, it's a 100-to-1 shot he would come to Evanston. But, hey, his wife did receive a graduate degree from NU's journalism school, so why not try?

Mitch Henderson: The former NU assistant has excelled at Princeton. But you can't hire the current Princeton coach to replace the former Princeton coach, right?

tgreenstein@tribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein

 

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