Bill Carmody and the entire Northwestern basketball program must feel as though they are paying off karma at a vastly accelerated rate. Not only have the Wildcats lost their best player (Kevin Coble) for the entire 09-10 season, now they have lost a key reserve (Ryan) that might have helped sub for Kevin Coble.
The most significant fact about Jeff Ryan’s injury is that NU has basically no point guard depth behind Juice Thompson. The only player left who has played the point in game besides Juice is Jeremy Nash and he likely can’t be spared from the forward spot he is now playing thanks to Coble’s injury. That means that Juice is going to play nearly 40 minutes every night. This is entirely possible, but it will take a toll after a while. In addition, Juice has been known to get into foul trouble. If that happens NU really only has two choices at point guard and neither has any significant experience. The most likely choice will be freshman guard Alex Marcotullio who played point guard for his high school team, but really is probably better suited to play shooting guard in college. The other option is sophomore Nick Fruendt who is another player more suited to the shooting guard spot. I suppose Marcotullio’s fellow freshman Drew Crawford could play the point, but Carmody already has him starting at shooting guard/small forward and he has probably only practiced in those spots.
The other issue with Ryan’s injury is that he could also sub for Jeremy Nash in the front court and keep NU’s 1-3-1 defense working. Who else can do this? Well, Crawford is athletic enough, but seems seriously foul prone. The best choice is likely Mike Capocci who will bring great athletic skill, but certainly isn’t as smooth as Ryan when it comes to reacting on defense.
Coach Carmody is now going to have to put trust in some young players. Here’s how I see NU’s roster after the NIU game and the Ryan injury:
PG – Thompson
SG/SF – Crawford
SF/SG – Nash
PF – Shurna
C – Mirkovic
In Rotation Bench -- Based on NIU Game
F – Peljusic
C – Rowley
F – Capocci
F/C – Curletti (may play or not based on matchups)
You’ll notice that in those 9 players NU has only one true ball handling guard. Therefore, the NU rotation has to be extended now to include the following:
In Rotation Bench -- with Injury to Ryan:
PG/SG – Marcotullio
PG/SG – Fruendt
Depending on how competent Marcotullio and Fruendt actually are in handling the ball against pressure it is even possible walk-on guard Reggie Hearn who is actually a true point guard might see some minutes. This is clearly not how Coach Carmody and NU envisioned the year starting, but NU has to move on as almost the whole season is still to come.