So much promise followed Ricardo Patton from Colorado to Northern Illinois. Also following him to NIU was his son Michael and non-son Xavier Silas, the ex-Buffaloes superguard. But in four years, he could only amass a 35-83 record, few fans, and after finishing 9-21 this season, Patton is gone at NIU.
No surprises here. Silas may have not won MAC Player of the Year, but he was the league's best pure shooter and most viable NBA prospect. Nobody else in the MAC had a man of this caliber, and the team won five conference games. This means either Patton thought he could win with simply Silas and his son, or that he wasted the rest of the talent in DeKalb. Either way you slice it, the fans were calling for his neck all season long.
On Tuesday NIU bowed out gracefully in the MAC Tournament as the 10-seed with a 20-point loss at Bowling Green. Of their nine wins, only one team was ranked in the Pomeroy top 250, and that was Akron. Among the other seven, only Utah Valley had double-digit wins.
This was a catastrophic year in every facet, but the fact that they lived up to the media's and fan's* expectations with nine wins after four years puts the blame squarely on the coach. Plus, it's fine timing because the younger Patton just played out his senior year. They can both walk into the sunset, looking for their new basketball challenges the next town over.
* - I'm not sure this should be plural
Whoever the next coach is will not have much retained in the ways of talent. Toler, the lumpy perimeter threat, is going to be the team's best player next year, and Christian could turn into a 15 ppg guy in a couple years, so it's going to be rough in 2011-12. But within DeKalb there is a fanbase dying to enjoy their basketball team (they do so with their football) so the growth potential is there. The lesson learned: don't try to put all your eggs in one Silas.