I think Michigan is a great team. I’m not sure they can beat Kansas and Indiana will give them trouble due to an inside game Michigan lacks, but if the four best teams make the Final Four then Michigan will make the Final Four. With that in mind I think one has to be pleased with on Northwestern actually managed to many things well tonight and didn’t look nearly as outclassed as the score would indicate. The problem was once again that Northwestern has in the last several games been unable to make shots. That doesn’t just mean three pointers, though, that missing from the NU offense creates problems. It includes making inside shots and free throws as well. I’m almost able to excuse the inside shots because NU’s freshmen big guys are still learning what works and what doesn’t in the Big Ten and Michigan pretty much was allowed to physically beat up NU yet very few fouls were called. You can’t blame the refs for this loss, but NU probably deserved to go to the free throw line on several of those missed layups.
Of course, the free throw line is not a place Northwestern wants to be right now. I can’t get over how bad a free throw shooting team this is right now and I know it’s all mental. There is literally nothing that can be done to improve NU’s free throw shooting other than the players on the team simply deciding not to get too frightened to perform every time they go to the line. If he weren’t the only ballhandler on the team I would suggest benching Dave Sobolewski. His mental state right now is so poor it almost wants to bring you to tears. You just have to feel terrible for the kid. I mean nobody deserves to be so mentally lost. It you’re a golf fan the comparison for Sobo is Ian Baker-Finch and if you’re a baseball fan it’s Steve Sax. They and Sobolewski are guys who have/had the talent to be very good players but whose brains essentially ruined them.
Three point shooting is a problem as well, but I have to be honest and say that this NU team shouldn’t be expected to be a consistent three point shooting team. There isn’t one player on the roster who statistically is consistent three point threat. Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio have proven to be streaky shooters who can have big games, but neither is night in and night out going to be a guy that can regularly knock down a shot. Kale Abrahamson was supposed to be that guy but he can’t seem to get shots and hasn’t made them when he has. Tre Demps offers some hope, but he also seems to be a guy who is mostly hit or miss. With that in mind you just have to hope NU has enough good days left that they pull out some wins in the second half of the Big Ten schedule. Matching the 3-6 record they had through he first nine games would probably be decent considering the challenges this team faces, but due to a slightly lighter schedule I’d like to see NU post four wins in the back half.