Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time Off is Time for NU to Change Mindset on D

Northwestern has two long layoffs this season. The first is currently occurring due to the fact the ‘Cats couldn’t find a team to fill an opening on the schedule this week. The second long layoff will occur during Finals Week. Anyhow, this layoff occurs before NU takes on Creighton and Georgia Tech in a three day span. Those two teams have a good chance of being NU’s toughest non-conference opponents. Tech is off to a slow start, but still is an ACC team and Creighton is currently sitting at 3-1. With those two teams NU won’t be able to play so-so defense and escape with wins because they overpower the opposition on offense. Hopefully, NU is taking their time off to work on their defensive play as ‘Cats head coach Bill Carmody stated his squad would after their win last Friday.

To me the area where the ‘Cats need to improve is simply playing one-on-one defense as part of their 2-3 matchup zone or switching man-to-man defense. NU seems to have slow feet a lot and lets players drive around them. Sure, someone can come up and help, but then another player is left open and NU has way to often been victimized by hot shooting. NU gets decent defense from Jeff Ryan and Alex Marcotullio, but somehow NU needs to get Drew Crawford, JerShon Cobb, and John Shurna to improve their defense. All three are good athletes, but sometimes they don’t look it on defense. However, I think all that is separating them from success on the defensive end of the court is having an intensity about how they play.

I’ve watched several college games today and the good teams all have the ability to turn up the dial on defense quickly. When they do, games that seem close often seem to turn into blowouts in an instant. I want NU to be able to pull off the same type of game. A great example was VCU vs Wake Forest. Wake Forest got up on VCU in the second half, but then VCU got intense on defense and quickly turned the game into a blowout. VCU might not be more talented than Wake Forest, but their effort on defense allowed them to dominate the game. Northwestern is going to be in the same situation a lot this year. Watching those games has also told me the Big Ten is loaded with talent this year. I still think NU can have a nice season, but a great many of their Big Ten opposition have more talent. That means NU needs to make up the difference some how. How can they do that? I say get intense on defense. I also believe that since so much of defense is mindset that we could see a huge turnaround with NU on D. However, it won’t happen if NU doesn’t work on getting the right mindset and that’s what I hope they’re doing right now.


Northwestern Basketball Fan said...

The break isn't because the Cats weren't able to schedule a team this week. The Cats have a full slate of games this season -- 29 is the maximum they can play. Last year they played 31 because the Chicago Tournament was a "qualifying tournament".

One interesting aspect of the Cats' non-conference schedule this year is how often they play games within two days of each other.

At Texas Pan Am, home against Ark Pine Bluff; Creighton and Ga Tech; and finally St. Francis, prob. St. John's at MSG and then two nights late home against Mt. St. Mary's. That's the biggest reason for the extended breaks.

Ryan said...

This site says NU wanted one more game this year either this week or Dec. 4th

It looks like you can play 30 this year or the MSG event only counts as one.

Northwestern Basketball Fan said...

What I think happened is that NU was trying to schedule last game for Nov 22-24 or Dec 4 and wasn't able to get anyone to come on those dates, so ended up scheduling Ark-Pine Bluff for 11/19 instead (even though that wasn't a desirable date for NU because they played in southern Texas on 11/17.

The rule is clear:

"17.3.5 N umber of Contests. Maximum Limitations—Institutional. An institution shall limit its total regular-season playing
schedule with outside competition in basketball during the playing season to one of the following (except for
those contests excluded under Bylaw (Revised: 4/27/06 effective 8/1/06; contracts signed before 1/8/06 for
events scheduled to occur prior to the second Friday in November may be honored)
(a) 27 contests (games or scrimmages) and one qualifying regular-season multiple team event per Bylaw; or
(b) 29 contests (games or scrimmages) during a playing season in which the institution does not participate
in a qualifying regular-season multiple team event."

Chicago Invitational was four games last season: 27 + 4 +31

Even if Mad Sq tournament was qualifying: 27 +2 = 29; if not 29

Ryan said...

That would make sense. Playing games so close isn't really a problem for as me as I think it might help in the long run.