This was a game that was over within the first five minutes. Michigan played as well as they could for the first seven or eight possessions of the game and Northwestern played about as bad as they could. Granted, I didn’t expect Northwestern to be able to beat this Michigan team, but I thought they’d at least make the game interesting for a half or so. They didn’t make it interesting for more than a half a minute.
Michigan is talented and anybody watching tonight would be ready to draft Trey Burke as their first player if they were going to start a team, but this game was decided much more by Northwestern’s ineptitude than Michigan’s talent. This was probably some of the worst basketball played by NU in Welsh-Ryan Arena in several years. Michigan simply did whatever they wanted on the offensive end and Northwestern was hopeless or maybe helpless to stop them.
Some will say that it was simply the talent gap that resulted in NU’s defeat, but I point to effort. It seemed Northwestern came out flat for a game vs the #2 team in the country. That doesn’t make sense to me. If they weren’t flat then they were simply scared to death which isn’t acceptable either. Whatever the reason, Northwestern had a notable lack of intensity on defense and that allowed Michigan to make six of their first seven shots and pretty much put the game away before some of the fans who entered late had even found their seats.
NU’s lack of intensity on defense, especially in man-to-man, has been something I’ve talked about a lot over the past 4.5 years. I don’t really want to rehash it again, but I will say that though I think it would be totally unfair for AD Jim Phillips to fire Bill Carmody after all the bad breaks this season that NU’s lack of intensity is the type of thing that gets a coach fired. If you as a coach can’t at least get your guys to play hard vs the #2 team in the country, overmatched as they might be, that’s not something which your AD is going be very happy about.
I do see hope for NU on offense as I see scoring potential in Tre Demps, Alex Olah, and Kale Abrahamson. I’d hope Abrahamson and Demps would be a little better from the outside and that Olah would be a little stronger with the ball, but the talent exists for them to do something productive. Offense, though, won’t win games for this team. The firepower just isn’t there. If Northwestern is to have any chance they have to play defense. I don’t expect them to beat Minnesota either, but if they don’t at least play harder on defense it’ll be hard for me to have any hope about where this season is going the rest of the way.