Tavaras Hardy was Bill Carmody's lead assistant - and his most talented recruiter. Is there any chance Jim Phillips opts to promote the former Northwestern center to head coach?
Tavaras Hardy is the only candidate for Northwestern's open coaching position we know for surecan bring talented players to Evanston. But is Bill Carmody's top assistant the right guy - or even a possible option - for the head coaching gig?
If Bill Carmody had someday made it to the NCAA Tournament and got to coach at Northwestern long enough to ride off into the sunset, mocha in hand, there's no doubt Tavaras Hardy would have one day become Northwestern's head coach. He followed the Pat Fitzgerald trajectory, minus all the unbelievable success Fitz had as a player. He was a star for the Wildcats, one of the best players on some bad teams in the late Kevin O'Neill era and early Bill Carmody era. His pro basketball career fanned out, he went into finance, made some money, but had too much love for the sport. He coached some AAU ball, and eventually got the job as an assistant for Carmody.
With the amount of connections he made coaching AAU, he would've been Northwestern's most valuable coach even if he didn't know a lick about basketball. John Shurna? Drew Crawford? Dave Sobolewski? All landed through Hardy's Illinois connections. He's also responsible for JerShon Cobb, Kyle Rowley - a big get at the time - Alex Marcotullio, Tre Demps, and Nate Taphorn. You could argue that Northwestern's turnaround between the 1-17 year in 2007-2008 and their four straight NIT years had less to do with Bill Carmody than with Tavaras Hardy, and you'd probably be right. After the 2010-2011 season and the departure of Mitch Henderson, Carmody promoted him to "associate head coach", making him the hypothetical second-in-charge.
There's two obvious reasons he'd be a very risky hire: first off, he has no experience as a head coach anywhere besides the AAU circuit, where head coaching is not exactly the biggest priority. That's not to say he wouldn't be a good head coach if given the opportunity, but we have no evidence he would be. We don't know how he does with x's and o's. We don't know how he manages games. We don't know if his success as a strong recruiter would translate to an ability to do well as the top guy in a program.
Secondly, he's a Carmody guy. It doesn't make a particularly large amount of sense to fire a coach hoping for a sea change in the feel around your program, and then keep the assistant most heavily associated with that coach.
I actually think that Hardy would be a good hire - he's a great recruiter, which is really what NU needs, understands the program more than anybody, and bleeds purple. Plus, assuming he's learned everything he knows from Carmody, he'd maybe bring some of the same strategies Carmody used that hypothetically kept Northwestern in games when they were outmatched - seven years coaching the PO and the 1-3-1 probably means he knows them pretty well.
But he's got the association with Carmody with him, and that normally doesn't sit well. I think all things considered, it's very unlikely that he gets hired as Northwestern's head coach.
In an ideal situation, Hardy would stay as an assistant, continuing to help recruit. But there's a decent chance that whoever Northwestern hires will want to bring in their own assistants, in which case Hardy might not hang on to his job. Let's hope that isn't the case.