Northwestern men’s basketball has seen the same rosy-cheeked, gray-haired chap roam the sidelines ever since the turn of the century. And in light of a recent offered contract extension, it’s looking like head coach Bill Carmody may be here to stay for a little longer. But what if some classic basketball czars or some modern basketball gurus took their turns at Welsh-Ryan Arena? North by Northwestern took a shot at imagining what a pep talk would look like from a few fictional, yet memorable, personalities.
From Coach Carter, played by Samuel L. Jackson
Alright boys. This is Northwestern, so first things first: You’re all gonna do push-ups. For every hundredth of a point your GPA is below a 4.0, that’s one push-up. If you’ve got a 3.97, you’re doing three push-ups. If you have a 3.60, that’s forty. You boys only have today, so you better help each other out. Otherwise, this gym will be locked until the Iowa game and the buses will be locked and we will not be going to Ann Arbor or University Park.
Now, if I find out any of you were studying late at a girl’s place, there will be consequences. Don’t try to tell me that you needed tutoring because you put in extra time practicing. I don’t care if we just beat a ranked Illinois team in a one-point thriller. If I catch you swapping chemistry formulas with any young ladies, you’ll be lucky if you survive the next practice.
Boys, our goal is to get to the NCAA tournament. Frankly, it’s astounding that this program has never been there. People have been throwing rocks through my office windows, saying I didn’t deserve that contract extension because we’ve never been to the tournament. But I don’t care about all that. I won’t quit, especially not if you guys keep up your perfect GPAs. And that means fewer push-ups for you. So let’s get to it, boys.
From Hoosiers, played by Gene Hackman
Now we fought a tough battle out there Saturday, and we have another tough one coming up against Michigan. And we need to focus on this step in front of us before we focus on the next one. I’m sure going to the NCAA tournament is beyond your wildest dreams, so let’s just keep it right there.
Forget about the last time we played them, forget about how talented their players are, forget about their fancy maize and blue jerseys, and remember why you are playing in this game, why you were chosen to play on the Big Ten Network. Focus on what we have run in practice time and time again and stay true to how we play the game.
And most important, don’t get caught in winning or losing this game. If we are out there putting all our effort and all of our focus into playing to our full potential, you are winners in my book, no matter what the scoreboard reads at the end of the game!
And how many times are we gonna pass before we shoot? FOUR!
Now let’s go out there and show them who we are and not who we are not.
From Semi-Pro, played by Will Ferrell
Alright, that was a solid win against Illinois boys. You bounced back after a tough loss against the Buckeyes and no longer look like such jive turkeys, but where was the pageantry?
I mean, the Princeton offense? Really? I INVENTED THE ALLEY-OOP! I can’t watch solid ball movement and backdoor cuts! I need dunks and behind-the back passes. The 1-3-1 zone? WHERE IS THE FUNK IN THAT?
Thompson, Shurna, what happened to John and Juice? Those dunks really brought the funk. And Crawford, you haven’t been the same since you lost the ‘fro. Really poor judgment there. The only one who really brings the fire is you, Mirkovic. The way you scream at the student section whenever you score an open lay-up? Fantastic.
Seriously, team, we’re still in this! You’ve got it so much better than I did, anyway. I played in an empty gym my entire career, you only have to do that during midterms! Give the fans something to see…and if you fall behind, just sock the smallest dude on the other team. That job’ll be for you, Curletti.
You’ve got about a month left to make the NCAA Tournament, but you’ve just got to keep winning. If I can record “Love Me Sexy,” easily the greatest song of all time, then you can beat Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. This one’s in the bag, gentleman.
And don’t listen to anyone who tells you you can’t drink before a game, that man is a bald-faced liar.
From Blue Chips, played by Nick Nolte
Alright, Juice: The ball is yours.
And our first option is to get the ball down to Luka. And Luka, goddamnit, you take it to the basket and you take it hard.
Now, they’re gonna make an adjustment. And when they adjust and double-down and triple-down on Luka, we’re gonna move the ball out to John (Shurna). And Johnny, you can put it up from wherever you’re at on the court; the basket is the same height as it was at your place in…where you from, Glen Ellyn?
[Bell is informed that they’re probably not going to help out on Luka at all]
Well, wait – what?
You mean to tell me he’s not like Shaq? [Turns to Mirkovic.] I didn’t pay a Lexus for you? [Luka shakes head.]
Son of a…
OK, OK, not a problem.
Boys, Michigan is in the other locker room wondering what the hell we’re gonna do. Well, I’ll send a note over to Jim Beilein and I’ll tell him exactly what we’re gonna do. I’ll give him our offense, I’ll give him our defense. Because it’s not what you do, goddamnit, it’s how you do it. Now we’re gonna go nose-to-nose with them, and we’re gonna beat ‘em on both ends of the court. And you’re gonna play better than you ever dreamed of. Because, goddamnit, that’s what I demand of you!
Alright, let’s — what now? They already know? We run the same crap every single game? Well, do we win? Sometimes? We beat them before? Then what the hell am I talking about? You say you have no idea? We’re already late for the game?
Crap…alright, let’s go!