Drew Crawford announced that he will not be transferring and will instead return to Northwestern for his fifth year. This is obviously a god thing for Northwestern, getting their top player back after he led the team up to his season ending torn labrum last season after just ten games. While getting a player as good as Crawford back is great (averaged 16 points in 2011 and was selected to the All-Big Ten third team), this is especially a big boost for new coach Chris Collins.
“It, obviously, will be a tremendous asset to have him continue to be a part of the program, not only because of his ability on the court, but he’s also an outstanding leader”, Collins said in a statement.
Collins is coming in to a Northwestern basketball program that has traditionally been low on talent, but this team is especially barren right now. Most of the talent that they had last season, where they won just four conference games, has graduated, including Reggie Hearn and Jared Swopshire. There is not much left for the first time head coach as he takes over, but having the experience and talent of Crawford will certainly help Collins.
The fact of the matter is that Northwestern will not be good next year. They likely won’t be good for at least a couple of years, until Collins can recruit some talented players to fill up the roster. But until that happens, he doesn’t want them to be terrible. Collins has to create some momentum for the downtrodden program he is taking over, so having an embarrassingly bad team would not only hurt in the short term, but potentially in the long term.
Crawford and junior point guard Dave Sobolewski will at least create a respectable backcourt, with two upperclassmen. The rest of the team is a big unknown, however, comprised of unproven young players. There just isn’t any real proven talent apart from the aforementioned guards on this team or in the incoming recruiting class, which contains just one three star small forward.
Northwestern is not going to improve overnight with Collins. It will take time, but having Crawford back will help the program have some momentum potentially. In the short term, he will be the team leader in Collins’ first season, possibly preventing them from being terrible. In the long term, though, a respectable season thanks to Crawford could allow Collins to put some momentum into this Northwestern basketball program that sorely needs it.