The bottom line on this game is that Purdue out shot Northwestern in the second half and Northwestern didn’t shoot that bad. Purdue just shoot amazingly well. Now, some of that might be a signal that Northwestern still isn’t a great defensive team, but did anyone think they were? If teams don’t turn the ball over vs NU’s 1-3-1 then Northwestern struggles to stop them and Purdue only turned the ball over five times all day. Unlike Iowa who struggled to get passes across the court vs NU’s pressure, Purdue had no problem. I’m going to lay some of that blame on the lack of depth NU has because I thought NU did a better job pressuring the ball in the first half and trailed off in the second. Some of that, though, is Purdue with better talent and more experienced guards than Iowa.
I don’t want to write NU off as I did after the first loss to Purdue because the ‘Cats showed an ability to comeback. However, they’re now in a tough spot and are paying for missing chances early in the year with the close losses at home to Purdue and Illinois and the road loss in OT at Michigan. If NU losses at Indiana (which seems likely to me) then the ‘Cats will have dropped to 5-8 in Big Ten play with five games left. That’ll be a tough spot to make a run to reach the 9-win plateau which many have focused on when talking about postseason expectations.
John Shurna had a really big game tonight with 30 points but he basically got no support. Sure, Drew Crawford had some moments and Reggie Hearn and Dave Sobolewski did scrape into double figures, but none of those three were the constant scoring threat they’ve been during the win streak NU had before today. Also, Alex Marcotullio was a non-factor as he struggled to get shots and take care of the ball and, no shock, Davide Curletti and Nick Fruendt played like they were invisible on offense. Again, some of the credit for that goes to Purdue, but some of the blame has to go to NU just not executing and missing chances to covert at the hoop. Drew Crawford was most guilty of that and then he managed to get himself tossed from the game. Now, the fact is the call made by official Tom O’Neil was wrong, but as I’ve said before, Drew Crawford more than any other NU player seems incapable of handling struggles. Whenever things go wrong for Drew he looks upset and then starts to make poor choices. Today was an extreme example, but I don’t think NU’s in great shape next year (or really the rest of this year) unless Drew matures a whole lot. Can that happen? Sure, but some people are just who they are and Drew doesn’t seem like someone who would respond real well if his coaches pointed out the fact is he’s too emotional. He’d probably just get emotional. I think he’s basically a really nice kid who hasn’t really yet learned to recover when things don’t go right.
As I said above, lot’s of credit to Purdue. They ran offense really well. Now, personally I would have fouled Terone Johnson anytime he tried to drive the lane because he’s like a 41% free throw shooter, but with only a six or seven man rotation maybe that wouldn’t be a good plan. JerShon Cobb played today long enough to shoot a free throw. I don’t know what that means for his future. Luka Mirkovic was ruled out before the tip. I know that’s not good.