The less said about this game probably the better. There is a difference between “losing” and “getting beat” and Northwestern didn’t “get beat” by St. John’s tonight. They lost. Sure, NU hasn’t faced the best competition, but the fact is that other than maybe the UTPA game they played better in every game than tonight.
Tonight NU played poor defense (allowed SJU to make 80% of their 2nd half shots), especially inside in the second half, didn’t shoot well from the field or the foul line, and couldn’t take care of the ball. If NU had played a good high school team they might have lost tonight. Other than John Shurna posting 28 points most of this game was forgettable other than as a learning experience for NU’s players and coaches and since I’m not one of them I’m just going to chose to forget it.
The player that I guess has to learn the most is Luka Mirkovic who just got used and abused by St. John’s big guys. He did manage to end up with 9 rebounds, but scored just two points and missed what seemed like countless short shots while allowing St. John’s to make a whole collection of easy inside buckets. I don’t know what else to say about Luka. He’s probably the key to NU’s Big Ten success, but if he plays like he did tonight NU might struggle to get 5 or 6 wins. Of course, it’s not just Luka. When he has an off night Davide Curletti is supposed to step up, but the big man from Michigan scored just one point tonight (1-of-4 free throws) and wasn’t a factor on the glass.
NU also suffered from losing Juice Thompson to foul trouble in the first half which caused an early 10 point NU lead to disappear. In the end Thompson scored 13 points, but never found a rhythm. I don’t think I’ve seen Juice look so off and out of sorts on offense in a very long time. Drew Crawford wasn’t much better. Crawford scored 17 points, but he left another 17 points on the board thanks to a poor shooting night.
NU plays again Thursday. Hopefully we'll see a much better effort.