This game was much closer than I expected, but that’s not bad. Northwestern is clearly learning how to play and win close games which is critical. I’m convinced that the Big Ten is the most even conference in college basketball and that means any number of the 18 conference games that the ‘Cats will play might come down to the final possession. Therefore, I’m pleased that we’ve see a number of Wildcats step up in the clutch so far this year. Today, it was JerShon Cobb knocking down the clutch three pointer when Stony Brook triple teamed John Shurna in an effort to not let the NU star beat them. Cobb played 25 minutes toady in part because Alex Marcotullio didn’t see any time (though Marco twice went to the scorer’s table and then came back to the bench). That’s big for Cobb to see that much time since he’s still recovering from his injury.
Stony Brook did a pretty good job with hard-nosed man-to-man defense (and so did NU) the Stony Brook defense helped make it tough for John Shurna and Drew Crawford to get doing early for NU. That meant that early on Reggie Hearn and Dave Sobolewksi had to step up for the ‘Cats. Hearn hit two early threes and Sobolewski made a total of three three-pointers and scored a career high 16 points. Sobolewski, who has taken a lot of strange criticism from some fans, did turn the ball over three times today, but dished out four assists and played very good defense against some athletic guards.
As the game went into the second half it seemed Shurna and Crawford tried to step up more. I still think Shurna needs to look to score more often, but he did enough to help the ‘Cats to victory with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. His three point shot seemed off, but I have no doubt it’ll be on the money in future games. Crawford scored 12 points and had 7 rebounds. He also absolutely posterized a Stony Brook defender with one of the most athletics dunks I’ve seen from an NU player.
Overall, this game seemed to be a game NU played without great focus at times, but the defense was good and some new players stepped up. The biggest issue is still inconsistent play from the center position. Today the centers did combine for 6 rebounds and 5 assists, but they didn’t score at all. They cannot get shut out in Big Ten games.