The Wildcats ended a solid Italy trip with a 77-55 win today. That also ended a solid weekend for NU sports which featured a 1-0 start to the football season. I'll make a quick football rant and then get into the basketball. Okay, so Dan Persa is awesome, I knew he would be because he just sounded like the type of kid who you win with. He brings everything you want to the table and more. However, he got no support from his runningbacks and pretty much was the NU offense. If Northwestern had a halfway decent running back I think Persa would put up numbers which would make him a legit All-Big QB if not a dark horse for the Heisman. As it is, I think he'll be good and NU will go a decent bowl, but some games will be lost because NU can't run the ball. Other websites and other people have ideas why NU's non-Persa running game is so poor and they're all interesting to read, but the bottom line I think is it is a combo of players and plays called. Walk-on Jacob Schmidt is NU's starter at tailback. That's not good. I'm not trying to disrespect Schmidt and I know he'd smoke me in the 40-yard dash, but when it comes to playing runningback in the Big Ten, I just don't think he hits the hole quick enough. Really, only Persa looks like he can get to a hole. Simmons and Fields might be quicker than Schmidt, but they didn't seem to attack openings like Persa or past NU backs like Autry (x2), Wright, Herron, Sutton, Anderson, or even Omar Conteh.
Now, on to basketball. NU won the last two games on their tour. The 3rd win was 112-105 in OT. With full video of the game it is tough to say much, but Juice Thompson posted 38 points, John Shurna had 26 points, and Drew Crawford had 22. NU has a pretty good top three in those guys. At the center position Luka Mirkovic and Davide Curletti combined for 10 points and 11 rebounds. I still think they'll need to do more for NU to do better than last year in Big Ten, but that's decent enough to win some games. Nick Fruendt also made a big shot, his only one, but maybe he might find a roll. Also, Mike Capocci got the start in the spot that has also gone to Alex Marcotullio and JerShon Cobb.
Today both Thompson and Shurna had off games, yet NU won. That's a very strong sign this might be a pretty good team. Drew Crawford netted 21 points, but the big story was JerShon Cobb with 16 points. I think Cobb will make a lot of big plays for NU and it was nice to see him near the top of the stat sheet. Mirkovic and Curletti didn't do much on offense, but Mirkovic got 10 rebounds and Ivan Peljusic had seven. Alex Marcotullio also had a big day with 17 points and 5 rebounds. He seems to know how to find the ball.
NU will go back home and wait for the start of the regular season.