Northwestern was just flat out bad in this game. They couldn’t hit enough shots to stay in the game and they turned the ball over so much they missed chances to get more shots. I’m sure a lot of people will blame Bill Carmody for this loss because that’s just what is done at Northwestern, but it’s not his fault that his players just seemed completely overwhelmed tonight. I’m sure he prepared them for the fact that Washington was going to play pressure defense. They just clearly didn’t get the message.
I think the key to Northwestern’s failure to win in the Big Ten Tournament and in this game was the fact that point guard Dave Sobolewksi was overmatched against very athletic teams. It’s also possible he just burnt out at the end of season after playing nearly every minute of every game, but the fact of the matter is his production when the season was on the line was less than impressive. It’ll be interesting to see if Tre Demps helps put NU on more even footing athletically at the point guard spot when NU faces very athletic competition.
The loss isn’t all on Sobolewksi, though, the fact is believe it or not Northwestern had chances to make a run in the second half, but just missed far too many open looks. Yes, Sobo had some of those, but he wasn’t the only one. Reggie Hearn was so cold I thought on saw icicles on his nose.
To be honest, other than John Shurna I’m not sure Northwestern had a player who looked to have any idea how to put the ball in the basket tonight. Making matters worse, Northwestern actually got some steals and made probably more stops against Washington than I thought they would, but it didn’t matter because they couldn’t even finish on fast breaks. Washington sure could, though.
Washington was far more athletic overall and really just made Northwestern look bad. I still think Northwestern could have hung around if they’d made more shots, but Washington was the better team. They handled Northwestern’s 1-3-1 zone really well and NU couldn’t play man-to-man because Washington would have scored at will.
This is disappointing because it ends a season which while tough at moments, was mostly filled with good competitive basketball with a game which was anything but competitive.
As I said above, this game was lost due to turnovers and missed shots. That’s not the fault of the coach, but this might still be Bill Carmody’s last game at Northwestern. This major laying of an egg type performance is the type of game that gets a coach fired. Whatever the case, Jim Phillips needs to make some decision on Carmody’s future because his contract runs out after next season and he can’t coach 2012-13 as a lame duck. That’s not a productive way to run a program. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I suspect we will hear something on that issue very soon.
I really am sorry the season ended this way for John Shurna, but let's remember his great record setting career and hope that he makes an NBA roster as that would help build the NU basketball brand for young people out there as much as anything besides making the NCAA Tournament.