Saturday, January 24, 2009

Michigan Ends NU Winning Streak with 68-59 Triumph

At the start of the game Michigan center DeShawn Sims totally dominated with five straight scores. It looked early on like Kyle Rowley was totally lost against the much more athletic Sims. This was an example of how sometimes a more athletic player can take advantage of a bigger defender. Northwestern has several guys who could do the same, but do not do so enough.

The Wildcats also allowed way to much dribble penetration from Michigan in the first half. Sadly, it was Jeff Ryan, one of NU’s better defensive players, who totally bought several Michigan ball fakes and allowed players to go right around him.

Overall, Michigan’s ability to ball fake, pass, and penetrate the zone was masterful. They clearly knew how to handle the 1-3-1 zone. Northwestern will need to have some other defenses prepped as other teams adjust as well.

Kyle Rowley has moments, but he is still very soft and slow. He often seems to be in position for rebounds, but doesn’t come up with them. Whether he is simply not yet adjusted to Big Ten speed, or needs to get in better shape, is unclear. Bottom line, he’s not quite there yet, but shows sings he will be someday.

Northwestern did have chances to get back in the game in the second half, especially from about the 9:00-4:00 minute mark of the second half, but Thompson and Coble took ill advised shots and Moore missed a wide open look. Given Moore’s poor play the last two games (4-of-13 today), the odds favor him shooting well at home against Indiana on Wednesday.

Bottom line, Northwestern still has a good chance to make the postseason. However, odds are this is not going to be the breakthrough NCAA year. Given that, I believe the likely future leading scorer John Shurna needs to get more playing time. Given what I saw from Jeff Ryan tonight, I’d say Shurna should get some of his minutes. Ryan is overall a good defensive player, but he offers zero on the offensive end. Shurna at least offers some threat on offense. Yes, he still needs to learn to play defense, but given his size and athletic skill that’s something he ought to learn with ease. Also, considering NU once again got manhandled in the rebound category, getting Shurna, who is one of the team’s better rebounders, on the court more could help.

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