Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It’s Almost…Basketball Season

Yes, you saw that right. Despite all the excitement over the start of football, the truth is that basketball is much closer than most people realize. Thanks to Northwestern’s trip to Italy, the Wildcats get 10 practices stateside before they depart for Europe. With those coming up just about a week, I wanted to highlight a couple goals I believe the ‘Cats need to focus on in those practices and perhaps the games as well. After all, though, playing games against other teams is a great compared to just scrimmaging each other, the games NU plays in Italy are really just an extension of preseason practice.

Goal 1 - Find a small forward: We know who was supposed to play that spot, but he’s gone. That means someone else has to step up. The smart money is on JerShon Cobb, but don’t be surprised if we see a lot of three guard sets with Drew Crawford and Alex Marcotullio playing side by side.

Goal 2 – Get consistent at the center spot: Luka Mirkovic might have been the Big Ten’s most inconsistent player last year. He primarily played well in Evanston and bad on the road. Davide Curletti wasn’t much better and Ivan Peljusic has spent his whole career showing moments of brilliance, but never translating those to an extended run of success. If NU is going to ever going to make any sort of postseason run they’ll need something resembling a consistent option in the paint.

Goal 3 – Find the team’s best defense: I think NU used the 1-3-1 so much last year because they simply couldn’t play anything else. NU wasn’t quick enough to play true man-to-man and wasn’t aggressive enough to fit through screens in the switching man-to-man/2-3 zone hybrid they tried at other times. Perhaps with this early start to things NU can find a defense which will truly given NU a consistent ability to shutdown other teams.

Goal 4 – Find a way to rest Juice Thompson for at least 5 minutes a game: Juice Thompson is great, but if he could rest for five minutes in the first half he’d be even better and fresher at the end of games. Somehow, NU needs to find someone to make this happen.

Goal 5 – Get prepared to play with urgency: Often times last season Northwestern would only play one half of a game hard. Usually that was the second half after falling behind in the first half. Sometimes that was enough to win, but other times not. Even with Kevin Coble gone, this is still NU’s best chance to make the NCAA Tournament ever. It might be NU’s last chance under Head Coach Bill Carmody. Yes, Coble left and that leaves Carmody short a key player, but a lot people have put the NCAA Tournament or bust label on Carmody this year and even without Coble I think it might stick.

1 comment:

KramerOG said...

With Jeff Ryan coming back, I think goal 4 will almost certainly be accomplished.