Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It’s the Defense, Stupid.

*I've put all the key points of this post in bold so you don't have to read the whole thing if you don't want. Actually, just skip to the last line that’s all you need to read.

Until Northwestern learns to actually play consistent hard man-to-man defense they will never make the NCAA Tournament. Sadly, it doesn’t look like they’ll learn that lesson this year. This game was lost because Northwestern couldn’t stop Wisconsin. The game started with the Badgers making uncontested threes and the game was won when the Badgers made 7-of-8 shots, including several threes, at the start of the second half.

I can’t tell you how upset I am at the fact Northwestern can’t play defense. As many good things as we’ve seen from Northwestern in the last 4 years, the lack of the ability to play defense is a major problem. You can’t only focus on offense which is what it seems that not only Northwestern’s team does, but the media as well. If I have to hear one more time about how great a scoring duo John Shurna and Drew Crawford are while NU is getting craved up for easy basket after easy basket I’m going to vomit. The only thing worse is hearing about how this might be the year for NU to make the Big Dance. Guess what? IT"S NOT!!!!!!!!!!

Admittedly, there were some good things that happened in this game early such as seeing NU attack the basket and seeing a seemingly gaining confidence Dave Sobolewski who showed some nice assertiveness. I still think NU needs some special plays for John Shurna, say run him off some screens, when teams start focus on him, because I can’t stand the way Drew Crawford forces shots. Those shots are fine when 3 seconds are left on the shot clock, but not when 23 second are left and Crawford seems clueless to that fact.

Some other random thoughts on the game include that Luka Mirkovic was terrible and at this point NU is better with a small lineup than with him on the floor. Other people, Luka included if he’s going to play, need to start to look to score because teams are guarding Shurna and Crawford and if NU won’t run any special plays than they just won’t score. I don’t want to hear about how tough it is to win in Wisconsin because this Wisconsin team is not all that great other than Jordan Taylor and he played one of his best games of the year today.

Overall, I’m really just sick and tired of the inconsistency of Northwestern. They can’t handle success so they don’t really have that much. Looking ahead, the truth is thanks to the blown games vs Illinois and Michigan this is right now a team which is a lot closer to a bottom half NIT-seed than an NCAA Tournament bid. It’s sad, but it’s true and I’ll say that until NU wins a road Big Ten game then anybody who talks about this team as an NCAA Tournament team ought to have their head examined. The only place Northwestern is an NCAA Tournament team is Fantasy Island.


doctorb said...

Well, even though Wisconsin is down a bit, they still are tough at home. They may very well win the rest of their home games. Also in defense of the Cats, having virtually no bench was a huge factor. With Cobb & Marco in there, the dynamics (and energy levels) are quite different. Without them, fatigue and no variation on offense will take their toll.

Team health will go a long way in determining the overall success of this team--in short, they can't afford to miss ANYBODY.

This, other than Ohio State, was the toughest road game of the year. It has to get better from here...

Clecago Joe said...

Obviously it is disappointing to lose any game, but I don't see the reason to get so down on our tourney hopes. When looking through NU's B1G schedule trying to find the 9 wins it will take to jump off the bubble, this is one you skip over quickly as a loss. It is not a bad loss. We still don't have a bad loss (though we have lost bad a few times). Sure there is now one less game left to win the 7 more conference games we most likely will need, but looking at the schedule, there are 7 winnable games out there.