Northwestern simply didn't do what they needed to in order to win Saturday afternoon. UIC on the other hand did. While Northwestern made only 10-of-19 free throws (and missed the front end of several bonus chances) UIC made all but one of their free throws. Also, Northwestern seemed unable to handle UIC's defense and their lack of a go to guy was once again exposed.
UIC had a go to player inside in Josh Crittle whereas Northwestern lacked production from Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn, especially late in the game. Hearn played terrible missing five free throws and a point blank layup that would have given NU a late lead. Crawford simply tends to disappear at times during the game and he's been doing that for years.
Northwestern being unable to make free throws is where I'm going to place the blame for this loss. NU would have lost to ISU if they hasn't made free throws so we know NU is capable of shooting well from the line, but they didn't show that today. ISU by the way was good enough to play #5 Louisville very close today, but of course that means very little for Northwestern.
Northwestern really isn't very good right now. If they make more shots and get some leadership they might get better. It'll also help if the young big men improve or if Nikola Cerina can come back healthy and take some minutes from Olah and Turner. Turner right now is, in my opinion, frankly, terrible. He's a nice athlete, but he can't play basketball at all. Olah at least clearly has potential, but he's several years away from really being good.
It's hard expect anything less than a disaster on Tuesday night when NU travels to Baylor to face a
team that just upset Kentucky. Still, Baylor is a young team and might be beatable coming off such a big win. The positive is this team can still get better, but right now this looks like a team which will struggle in Big Ten play.