An ugly first half put NU in a hole early. An ugly second half finished them off. I thought the first half was probably NU’s worst first half of the year as they only scored 21 points and shot just 26%. However, I now think the second half was even worse. One positive was a couple nice baskets from Davide Curletti, however, he also missed an easy shot going at the hoop and turned the ball over a few times. Perhaps, the key lesson from this entire contest is NU’s freshmen need some work—this not however a shock. Freshmen often need work and playing on the road is really tough. NU fans will see good games from their young freshmen, but it will take a little while in Big Ten play. At this point I am glad to see little positives like Curletti and Rowley making an occasional strong move.
What disturbed me most in this contest were NU’s continued shooting problems. If NU doesn’t shoot well they aren’t going to win a lot of games. Now, Wisconsin is known for their defense and the Kohl Center is a tough place to play, but shooting is becoming a problem for NU. The last time NU shot really well was against DePaul. The last four games have been very bad from behind the arc. The Big Ten Network did mention Craig Moore has made at least one three in 25 straight games, but he needs to get back to making close to 50% not making 1-of-7.
This was also NU’s worst game defensively. The 1-3-1 allowed too many open shots, NU didn’t rotate fast enough and Wisconsin penetrated the 2-3. NU didn’t play much man-to-man either which surprised me. They played some against MSU and weren’t terrible. I thought when facing a less athletic team like Wisconsin man defense could be a good weapon.
Finally, let me say Northwestern isn’t as bad as this loss shows them to be. As you can note from my pre-game predication, I didn’t expect NU to win this game, but I didn’t expect them to look like the Freshmen B squad taking on the Varsity either. The message that the type of play seen today is not acceptable needs to be conveyed to the Wildcat players. I’m sure Coach Carmody will do so, but it would be better if this message came from a player. Sometimes as a coach you can repeat this type of message ad nauseam and you might as well talk to a wall. A similar situation existed when Jitim Young was a senior and it was Young who fired up his teammates and coaches and pushed NU to its best Big Ten record in years. Does NU have a leader like Young on this year’s team? I don’t know. I hope somebody in purple has it within himself to reach down inside and convey the needed message to his teammates, because that message needs to be heard. It is time for the ‘Cats to toughen up.