Monday, February 9, 2009

On the 1-3-1 Defense...

I’ve heard a lot of people pointing to the fact Northwestern never switched from the 1-3-1 zone as a reason for the loss to Iowa on Saturday evening. Now, I’m a big proponent of switching defenses, however, I believe a close analysis shows that the 1-3-1 zone was in fact not responsible for the loss to Iowa. In fact, I believe 1-3-1 performed rather well all things considered. First off, we need to consider what occurs when playing a 1-3-1. The two major positives the 1-3-1 offers are it creates a bunch of turnovers and makes it difficult for a team to get the ball inside. The negatives are if the ball gets inside the other team’s center can regularly score with ease against a small guard and the corners are left open for easy three point shots. Against Iowa, Northwestern’s 1-3-1 produced 17 turnovers from the Hawkeyes and Iowa only made 2 inside shots, totaling four points from the center position. From this perspective it seems the 1-3-1 did its job more than adequately. Now, some will point to fact Iowa hit 12-of-30 threes which works out to 40%, but that’s only 36 points, not too bad when you aren’t allowing many two point field goals either. One of the major problems was the fact the Wildcats committed 21 fouls which allowed Iowa to make 16 free throws. Now, some could say the 1-3-1 was responsible for these fouls, but the fact is Northwestern hasn’t had major foul problems all year when playing the 1-3-1. Perhaps the refs called this game particularly close, especially on the perimeter, or perhaps NU’s players were a step slow thanks to midterms. At a school like Northwestern, you can’t discount what midterms can take out of student athletes. During football season the Wildcats worst loss was against Michigan State which also was near midterm season. Whatever the reason, the fouls did factor into Iowa’s victory. More than anything, though, I think the loss to Iowa was due to offense not defense. If you allow only 56 points, whatever methods those are scored by, you should win. Unfortunately, the Wildcats only scored 51 points. When you think about it, if Craig Moore had hit 8-of-18 shots instead of 6-of-18 or Michael Thompson and Kevin Coble had hit one three pointer each, which has been pretty common this year, NU would have won. A series of missed layups by Kyle Rowley and Jeremy Nash also hurt NU. Jeff Ryan also missed his only shot attempt which was a point black put back chance after a great offensive rebound. If those five layups had been made it also would have greatly increased NU’s chance of victory. Bottom line, any defense which allows only 56 points and 35% shooting can’t be that bad. In fact, it ought to produce a win. For Northwestern, though, it didn’t happen on Saturday. However, if the 1-3-1 can consistently produce turnover and opponent shooting percentage totals similar to what it did in Iowa City the odds are it will lead NU to many wins down the stretch of this season.

1 comment:

Lunker 35 said...

I feel so sick to my stomach.

1.) The refs were brutal the last five minutes. They call one foul on the Illini and it totally changes the game.

2.) Coble was not playing smart at all!

3.) How could we be so irresponsible with the ball?!

4.) WHERE WAS IVAN?!?? How did he not play a minute? Especially down the stretch we don't get an experienced guy in who can handle the ball?!?!

5.) That's it! Carmody needs to go!!!