Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wildcats Happy to Use Balanced Scoring and Minutes in Easy Win vs SIU-E
Northwestern’s game Thursday evening over SIU-Edwardsville played out just as Head Coach Bill Carmody wanted. He stated before the game he wanted to rest some guys and get playing time for a number of players who don’t usually see a ton of action. The plan worked perfectly. Every NU player who dressed for the game played at least 10 minutes and made a positive statistical contribution. Eight NU players scored nine points or more and every NU player to play except for guard Austin Nichols (who only took two shots) scored in the game. Nichols, even though he didn’t score, was actively involved in two NU buckets with two assists.
NU’s top players didn’t see much action. John Shurna sat the entire game and Drew Crawford and Juice Thompson played less than 20 minutes each. Crawford scored 16 points in 16 minutes to lead NU’s balanced attack and Juice scored seven points in just the first half as he enjoyed a rest for the entire second stanza.
Obviously SIU-E doesn’t have Big Ten size, but with the importance of Luka Mirkovic to NU’s offense it was great to see him have a really fantastic game in preparation for Wisconsin on Sunday. Luka made all four of his field goal attempts (including a three pointer) and hit all six of his free throws. He also dished out four assists and didn’t turn the ball over. Luka’s matchup Sunday with Wisconsin’s large bodies inside will be one to watch.
Mike Capocci got the start for the resting John Shurna and also did a great job dishing the ball around. He score 9 points, but had 6 assists to go with those nine points. Capocci was also’s NU leading rebounder tonight with 5 boards. NU won the overall glass battle vs the smaller Cougars 38 to 22. Davide Curletti helped out with four rebounds for NU and four blocks.
It was also nice with Juice on the bench to see Alex Marcotullio and JerShon Cobb (and eventually Nichols and Reggie Hearn) run the offense for NU and it still move smoothly. All four players had two assists each and Cobb led the group with 11 points, but Marcotullio added 10 as did Hearn for a career high.
I also have to say I thought NU did a nice thing not running up the score on SIU-E late in the game. Sure, it would have been nice to get 100 points, but that isn’t necessary for anything at this point. If this game had been earlier in the season things might have been different, but NU has nothing to prove to anyone about their offensive fire power at this point. I just hope that offensive fire power shows up Sunday in a huge matchup at 11:30.