Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Over Before It Started: Buckeyes Get Lead Early and Beat Wildcats 76-56

Northwestern hasn’t won at Ohio State since 1977. There was little question that doing so Tuesday night would be tough. What is disappointing more than the loss, though, is that this team looked like it could have been any of the Wildcat teams since 1977 which posted 0 or 1 Big Ten wins that played in Value City Arena—not possibly the best team Northwestern has ever fielded. Now, I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say Ohio State might be the Big Ten’s best team right now. Evan Turner, who put on a good show with 20 points and 13 rebounds, is the Big Ten’s best player. What’s frustrating about this game isn’t Northwestern lost to such a team, but that Northwestern basically handed Ohio State the game in the first 8 minutes. While Ohio State looked prepared to attack Northwestern’s defense, Northwestern looked lost on offense. After getting down, the Wildcats started to wildly force shots and try to make seemingly impossible passes. The result was a 40-17 halftime advantage for Ohio State and NU shooting just 18.2%. That type of shooting is simply a recipe for disaster. Some people will say that NU was just cold, but I firmly believe Northwestern made themselves cold by letting panic set in when OSU built a big early lead. For example, it was almost impossible to count the numbers of times someone made hopeless drive into the lane or forced up a three. What’s odd is Northwestern staged a big comeback against Ohio State last year so they should have known a comeback was possible. Not to mention if they players watched any basketball this weekend they saw comebacks from Minnesota and North Carolina, which while falling short, at least made games which looked out of hand very close down the wire.

I guess a certain amount of credit has to go to OSU coach Thad Matta who must have altered his attack after NU forced so many OSU turnovers last year. Instead of passing the ball out of bounds against the 1-3-1, Evan Turner was finding William Buford on the baseline for some of the easiest dunks I’ve ever seen. Aside for the ease which Buford got his dunks, what was also disappointing was the fact NU’s defensive change, a press, then resulted in even more easy Buckeye baskets. I felt that at that point NU’s athletic limits were very much in display.

Bill Carmody tried some different personal (Peljusic and Fruendt both played early) to ignite the Wildcats, but in the end only John Shurna truly stepped up. Shurna had 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting. NU’s next highest scorer was Drew Crawford who scored 11 points on 3-of-10 from the field. Crawford and Michael Thompson combined to shoot 5-of-20 overall and 4-of-13 from three. Crawford also only connected on 3-of-6 free throws. Perhaps one minor bright spot other than Shurna might have been Kyle Rowley’s five rebounds, but elements of Rowley’s offensive game still showed he has a way to go before becoming a complete player.

I would say the best move is for NU is to try and forget this game and concentrate on a huge game against Illinois this Saturday.

Also, don’t forget that Big Ten Network’s series HOOPS ON CAMPUS is coming to Northwestern!
They're looking for the best basketball players who don’t play for the team to participate in a SLAM DUNK CONTEST.

Open try-out Wednesday, January 20 at 7pm @ SPAC Courts.

They're also looking for 100 of the biggest NU hoops fans to come out and show your team spirit!

The contest takes place Thursday, January 21 at 7:30pm @ SPAC Courts.

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