Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quick Start, Balanced Attack Enough for NU to Beat Mount St. Mary’s

Northwestern is 9-1. I know people wanted to be 10-0 at this point, but I feel good about NU’s 9-1 record going into Big Ten play. What I think is most important is that NU looks very comfortable playing at home. The Wildcats will need to play well at home and pull off a few upsets in Big Ten play to make the NCAA Tournament. Today, the Wildcats continued their home dominance against a Mount St. Mary’s team which while a little weak, isn’t as bad as their 3-10 record looks.

Northwestern started today with a 20-0 run which set the tone for the day. In that run Luka Mirkovic showed up with some of the intensity I’d been hoping for and scored 8 points. For the game Luka scored 15 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and got 3 steals. I know Mount St. Mary’s wasn’t a big team overall, but I really liked what I saw from Luka today, especially because he shot a high percentage at 6-of-7 from the floor. If Luka plays with that same confidence in the Big Ten the Wildcats will have a very good Big Ten season. Even better, to go along with Luka’s 15 points, Davide Curletti scored 11 points and made 5-of-9 shots. That’s a center combo for Northwestern that scored 26 points. That type of production consistently will take NU to the NCAA Tournament.

Other Wildcats in double figures were Drew Crawford who led the team with 16 points, though, he didn’t shoot well from the outside, and John Shurna who scored 13 points, got 8 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists. The scariest thing, though, was Shurna leaving the game with an ankle injury. NU fans will pay close attention to any news on Shurna in the next eight days before the matchup on December 31st against Purdue.

I know most of the talk over the next eight days will be about Shurna, but I personally am going to be worried about Alex Marcotullio’s shot. Alex is a great all around player in terms of defense and his ability to pass as a guard (8 assists against only 2 turnovers today getting the start for an injured JerShon Cobb), but for a guy recruited as a shooter, Alex has been somewhat inconsistent. I’m heartened though by the fact that Craig Moore didn’t really become a great shooter until his junior year. Still, I’d really like if Marcotullio made progress a little quicker and started hitting about 45% of his threes this year in Big Ten play.

I’ll conclude today with a quick note on the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rebounding line like Mike Capocci’s. Capocci recorded five rebounds today, all offensive, including the Wildcats last points of the game which came on a one handed tip dunk. I truly believe he’ll play a role during NU’s Big Ten season.

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