Rapid Reaction: Carmody back for No. 13

Will No. 13 be a lucky or unlucky one for Northwestern coach Bill Carmody?

Carmody was provided Thursday the security of another season, his 13th, at Northwestern. The Wildcats likely will have to reach the NCAA tournament next season for him to see No. 14.

Northwestern’s program has been on the rise in the last four years under Carmody, making four consecutive NIT appearances and being deemed an NCAA tournament bubble team this past year. But expectations have grown at Northwestern, and simply being in the NCAA tournament discussion is no longer enough.

Even as Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips gave Carmody his vote of confidence in a statement on Thursday, he made sure to include two important words -- not satisfied.

“We had another solid season competitively, but let me be perfectly clear: we are not satisfied,” Phillips said.

As in the past, Northwestern is far from being a lock for the NCAA tournament team next season. The Wildcats weren’t able to get there the past two years under the senior leadership of Michael Thompson in 2011 and John Shurna in 2012. Both will go down as two of the program’s greatest players.

The Wildcats will graduate Shurna, who is the school’s all-time leading scorer, but return four starters -- freshman guard David Sobolewski, junior swingman Drew Crawford, junior guard Reggie Hearn and sophomore guard JerShon Cobb. They will also bring back sixth man Alex Marcotullio, a junior guard, and will have TCU transfer 6-9 junior forward Nikola Cerina eligible after sitting out this past season.

Northwestern’s recruiting class includes 6-7 small forward Kale Abrahamson, who has been touted for his shooting ability, 6-6 small forward Sanjay Lumpkin, a versatile forward, and 6-11 center Alex Olah, who should help the Wildcats immediately on the glass.