Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Cats Move to 2-0

Northwestern defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Wednesday to move 2-0 for the first time since the 2005-2006 season. The game was highlighted by the strong play of freshman forward John Shurna who posted 17 points and 9 rebounds (5 offensive). Kevin Coble led the ‘Cats with 18 points. What I found most interesting was the flow of the game. It seemed to me the game was divided into clear sections.

The first section was the first four minutes or so in which the ‘Cats started slowly by missing their first four shots. Once things got started, though, the ‘Cats offense took off and the team built a solid 18 point lead. In that stretch I was impressed with Kyle Rowley going aggressively to the hoop and nice passes from Rowley, Moore, and others.

The second section of the game occurred over a brief stretch in the middle of the first half when the Islanders cut into the NU led. When this happened, NU changed the lineup to include Luka Mirkovic and Mike Capocci and ended the half on a strong run. Luka returned at the end of the game and also added a great effort on defense then as well.

The third section was the start of the second half which I’d like to call the John Shurna Show. NU had an impressive 14 offensive rebounds tonight, which works out to rebounds on 27% of the team’s shots. That’s really solid for a team who only took 52 shots and Shurna grabbed five of the 14 offensive boards. Three of those were early in the second half and led to NU taking it’s largest led with just over 17 minutes to play.

The forth section was the one I was least impressed with. In this section NU played what I call Turtle Basketball. A Princeton Offense team like NU needs to play slow, but fast. They need to burn clock, but still pass and cut aggressively at all times. Instead, for about ten minutes in the second half NU started jogging through cuts, lobbing passes, and standing around waiting for Coble or Juice to bail them out with a late drive. This allowed the Islanders to cut the led to 10 with about seven minutes left.

Thankfully, in the final section of the game Shurna and the ‘Cats took back over. With a great one-on-one drive at the 4:00 minute mark, John Shurna put NU back on top by fourteen. After a Craig Moore steal, Sterling Williams took a pass from his fellow senior and made an excellent drive of his own. Those were Sterling’s only points of the night, but essentially iced the game for NU.

The Biggest Positive
Shurna. With Coble on the bench and the game potentially turning the Islanders way John Shurna stepped up big time on both ends of the court.

The Biggest Negative (But Also a Positive)
One notable negative throughout the game was the foul trouble of the NU centers. The positive, however, is that with three freshmen centers and sophomore Ivan Peljusic available NU has a recourse if a starter faces foul trouble. In the past such a scenario would have led to disaster.

Still to Come…
Tomorrow, I’ll add more thoughts on tonight’s contest and start looking towards the revenge game at Brown.

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