24 December 2009

Recap: Northwestern 74 CCSU 54

The game didn't go exactly as Carmody Court expected. John Shurna had a career night. Alex Marcotullio continued his (hopefully) mini-shooting slump. Kyle Rowley didn't look completely out of place against the smaller quicker opponent. Juice Thompson had to do a little more than nothing including coming off the bench at the end of the game to stamp out any thoughts of a CCSU comeback which began as NU emptied the bench.

Nonetheless Northwestern cruised to an easy victory as expected. (See this link for a nice recap that is effusive in its praise of the 'Cats) The heroes of the game were Shurna (MVP), Juice, and Crawford. Crawford looked silky smooth, and we at Carmody Court can't get enough of Drew's all-around game that is quickly developing at the collegiate level.

Crawford is a very good on-ball defender and has been able to collect a good amount of blocks for a guard. He is a skilled passer who knows when and where to pass the ball. He has the best shooting form of any Wildcat. He has good range as he shown the ability to knock down bombs from NBA distances and beyond. He has a quick first step is able to finish at the hoop in traffic.

We at Carmody Court are aware that Crawford's breakout over the past couple of weeks have come against lesser competition. We fully expect Crawford to have his share of struggles in conference as he will be consistently going up against players who are comparably tall and athletic (see Shurna, John. 2008-09). If and when he struggles over the next couple of months it will be important to keep in mind that he is a freshman. A freshman who looks like he will fulfill the hype as the "promised one."

More love for Northwestern Basketball from Yahoo!

Jason King ranked NU fourth in the Big Ten with "legitimate NCAA tournament hopes." Furthermore John Shurna is their Big Ten nominee for the "All-Igniter Team."

Most of the rankings out there have NU as anywhere between the 2nd and 7th best team in the Big Ten. On average NU is fourth or fifth strongest team in the conference which is easily good enough for the NCAAs. The bracket project also reinforces these rankings with NU currently set for a 10 bid in the NCAAs.

Yet in the face of objective benchmarks that say this team is good Northwestern fans continue to exhibit a collective psychosis about NU's merits. Posts that downplay NU's wins and trash NU's vanquished foes. Posts that play up the Big Ten and play down NU for lack of balance. Look. It is understandable that NU fans are gun shy given NU's past, but it is a real shame that fans can't unshackle themselves from the past and objectively see that this is a good team. Enough with the downplaying of expectations! It's well overdue for fans to rally around this team and believe that NU will make noise this winter in the conference.

Happy holidays to the team and enjoy the buzz that is building around the program. You have earned it!

22 December 2009

Yahoo! Sports says NU is NCAA bound

Seems like the only ones cooling on the NCAAs talk are snakebitten NU fans.

21 December 2009

On NU's early Big Ten conference slate

There is much bemoaning the fact that NU takes on 2009 NCAA tourney teams in each of its first 10 Big Ten tilts. We at Carmody Court welcome this challenge as it gives NU the golden opportunity to make a big splash on the national scene. Imagine if NU goes into C-U and takes down the Illini (a very possible outcome) and rides that momentum to beat Sparty at the Welsh (Sparty has looked anything but unbeatable so far and NU knows we can beat them after the victory at Breslin last year).

After another pastry treat in the form of Texas Pan-Am, NU travels to Ann Arbor where victory is quite possible as the Wolverines have looked but a shell of the team that gelled last season. Wisconsin then comes to the Welsh and they are quite beatable away from Kohl.

Purdue comes to Evanston, and NU will be looking to avenge last year's epic collapse. Plus NU knows that Purdue is beatable having done so in W Lafayette last year. A trip to Columbus looks tough on paper, but the big wildcard here is Evan Turner. Will he be back? If he is back will OSU's chemistry be off? A tough game but a Wildcat win can't be ruled out. The Illini then come to Evanston and again NU will be looking to avenge a collapse at the Welsh.

Trips to Breslin and Williams both sound daunting. These are probably the two least winnable games (maybe add the trip to Columbus here pending E Turner's status) but still not unthinkable. NU has won at both arenas under Coach Carmody so who knows right?

Then Michigan visits the Welsh which should be a win. And there you have it. The 10 game gauntlet which upon further analysis shows that only 2-3 games shape up as likely losses.

Opportunity knocks for NU to make some real noise during the first half of the conference slate. The Big Ten has turned out to be not as good as the preseason projections, and NU gets some of these NCAA tourney teams from last year at a pretty good time.

Start the conference season 2-0 and the media spotlight would be pretty bright in Evanston. Let's do this thing!!!

Better Know an Opponent: Central Connecticut State

The Central Connecticut State University ("CCSU") Blue Devils (3-5) take on Northwestern (9-1) at the Welsh at 7pm Central. The game can be viewed online for $2.99 at bigtennetwork.com. The game will be broadcast on Dec 23 on the BTN at 11AM Central and again at 11:30pm Central.

CCSU Quick Facts:
Location: New Britain, CT
Official Nickname: Blue Devils (Why is this so common? Odd.)
Coach: Howie Dickenman (14th season)
Team Colors: Blue and White
Conference: Northeast Conference (NEC)
Student Population: 12K
Famous Alums: Dave Campo, Richard Grieco, Mike Sherman

CCSU was founded in 1849 as the New Britain Normal School. Unbeknownst to Carmody Court is the fact that normal schools were designed to train teachers (this confirms that no one at Carmody Court is in the School of Ed). The NAACP designated CCSU as an official stop on the underground railroad.

The CCSU basketball squad was projected to finish fifth in the NEC preseason coaches poll. They have no preseason all-conference players.

Projected Starting Five:

G Sherrik Thompson 6'0" 190 #11 Jr.
G Devan Bailey 6'2" 190 #22 Fr.
G Joe Seymore 6'2" 195 #32 Sr.
F David Simmons 6'5" 215 #23 Jr.
F Joe Efese 6'6" 215 #21 Fr.

Sherrik Thompson is their veteran go-to guy who is averaging 14 and 3 with a slightly positive A:TO ratio (only Blue Devil in the "black" of that ratio). Robby Ptacek has started 7/8 games and is shooting 44% from distance but for some reason he is not projected as a starter. David Simmons is their rebounding guru pulling down 8.5 RPG. The Blue Devils look like they regularly play nine.

As a team The Blue Devils don't do much well. Against weak competition they are shooting less than 40%, get out-rebounded by 5.5 RPG, and shoot 32% from distance. They have a 7 to 10 A:TO ratio.

Why is NU playing this team? Taking a look at the Blue Devil schedule they don't fit the smaller conference road warrior profile. NU is the only "BCS" conference opponent. Did they think we were Northeastern when they agreed to the game?

What to expect? More fattening up on non-conf pastries on Tuesday night. Expect the players who dominate these cupcakes to play well (Crawford, Nash, Marcotullio). Rowley seems to struggle against smaller quicker opponents so hopefully he can work on that this game. Shurna also seems to lose focus when there isn't a big name on the opponent's jersey. Juice will do what is needed which won't be much if anything.

Welsh-Ryan Ramblings has some additional pregame intel.

Recap: Northwestern 70 Stanford 62


NU was evidently the better team on the court, but that didn't stop Stanford's Jeremy Green from putting a real scare into the Wildcat faithful in the game's waning moments. Green, who had been held in check for most of the afternoon, knocked down three straight buckets including a bomb at the 1:46 mark to cut what was once a comfortable 10 point NU lead into a 1 point nail biter. At that point Coach Carmody called a timeout, acknowledged the elephant in the room that was last year's epic home collapses against Purdue and Illinois, and reminded the team that this was a different year with different players.

Juice Thompson is one player who remains from last year, but he is oh so different now that he has stepped into the void left by Craig Moore and Kevin Coble. When it mattered most and with thoughts of last year's debacle on the minds of players and fans alike Juice Thompson stepped up and showed why he is the team's MVP. Three ball.... swish. That dagger ripped a gaping hole in Stanford's sail from which The Tree could not recover. NU's collective 7-8 effort down the stretch from the charity stripe sealed the deal.

John Shurna was NU's steadiest performer throughout the game as he gradually built his stats into a 22 & 8 tally. Drew Crawford continued to shed the freshman nerves he exhibited in his first few games and gives NU fans a real basis for thinking above and beyond just making the NCAAs in future years. Luka Mirkovic had a decent game going 9 & 6 with 5 assists and a three pointer that showed his performance against UNF was no fluke.

This was a game that was far from perfect. NU shot a subpar 6-25 from distance and really struggled from the charity stripe until the last minute of the game. In particular Marcotullio and Nash really struggled with their shooting. However both guards made amends with their defensive presence which helped NU survive its off-night on offense. Overall NU turned over the stingy Stanford ballers 18 times which was well above their season average of 11.

In the end Carmody Court breathed a big sigh of relief as NU hung on to win a game that might have slipped from its grasp in years past. All's well that ends well!

Here are some other recaps from the interwebs...

Chicago College Basketball
Bleacher Report
Welsh-Ryan Ramblings
Official Athletic Website
Skip Myselenski

Sippin' on Purple
Lake The Posts

^^^^NU Bears Highlight Video!!^^^^

18 December 2009

Better Know an Opponent: Stanford University

The Stanford University Cardinal (5-4) take on NU (8-1) at the Welsh this Saturday December 19 at 1pm Central. The game will be televised on the BTN and radio is available at wgnradio.com/listen.

Stanford Quick Facts:
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Official Nickname: Cardinal (color, not fowl)
Unofficial Nickname: The Tree
Historic Nickname: None prior to 1930, Indians (1930-1972)

Coach: Johnny Dawkins (second year -- previously the top assistant at Duke for many years)
Team Colors: Cardinal Red and White
Conference: PAC-10
Student Population: 15K
Most Famous Alum: Pick a leading Silicon Valley company, look at the corporate history, and odds are a founder or two went to Stanford (e.g., Google, Yahoo, HP, Cisco, Sun Micro)
Most Famous Alum Athletes: Tiger, Elway, McEnroe, Bryan twins, Summer Sanders, Debi Thomas
Most Famous Politician: Pres. Hoover (oops)

Stanford was founded in 1891. Today Stanford is an academic and athletic dynamo. Stanford is exceptional across the academic spectrum and its undergraduate program is currently ranked 4th by US News & World Report. Stanford has won the award for the top ranked collegiate athletic program an astounding 15 years running (the NACDC Director's Cup, fka Sears Cup). Frankly we could go on and on and on about Stanford's academics, athletics, amazing campus which is affectionately known as The Farm, etc... but that's not really the point of this post.

2009-10 Stanford Basketball Intel:
Stanford returns just one starter (Landry Fields) from a team that finished ninth in the Pac-10 last year.

Projected Starting Five:

G Jarett Mann 6'3" 185 #22 So.
G Jeremy Green 6'4" 190 #45 So.
G/F Landry Fields 6'7" 210 #2 Sr.
F Andrew Zimmerman 6'9" 215 #34 So.
F Jack Trotter 6'9" 220 #50 So.

Landry Fields is The Tree's main man (branch?) and stat sheet stuffer extraordinaire. He plays nearly 35 MPG, scoring 22.9 PPG on nearly 50% shooting and pulling down 8.8 RPG. He also has 30 assists, 22 steals, 7 blocks in 9 games -- you do the math. Long-range bomber Jeremy Green provides a nice outside presence with a 15.7 PPG average and shooting 45% from distance on over 7.5 3PA's per game. Drew Shiller is The Tree's sixth man who can also fill it up from distance (48.6% treys made, 8.4 PPG). Jarret Mann can dish the ball (53 assists), but he turns it over a little too often for a point guard in Carmody Court's opinion.

As a team The Tree average 75 PPG and knock down a very respectable 38% of their treys. The Tree are not a great rebounding team (outrebounded by 1 board per game) and are not a great defensive team (Fields is a notable exception with his 22 steals).

In short the defensive game plan seems pretty obvious. Stop Fields and get a hand in the face of Green and Shiller. This is easier said than done especially the former part. It will be interesting to see if The Tree can be forced into turning over the ball by NU's 1-3-1 zone. So far this season The Tree have only turned it over an impressive 11 times per game.

What to expect? In this game between true student-athletes NU hopes to continue its balanced team effort against The Tree. On offense it will be a good sign if NU can get some early backdoor layups to discourage The Tree's penchant for perimeter pressure. If and when that happens it's bombs away from any of NU's starting five (plus super sharpshooter Alex Marcotullio).

ESPN: Northwestern Basketball #1 Program in IL

Somehow we missed Scott Powers' previous ranking of collegiate men's basketball programs in the State of Illinois. In any event here is the current ranking.

We at Carmody Court concur with Mr Powers though Illinois is a close #2.

17 December 2009

Recap: NU 84 UNF 54

NU (8-1) took care of business last night and beat up on an overmatched UNF (1-6) squad. UNF did hang in the game for the first 17 minutes or so. Ultimately, NU's torrid shooting was too much for UNF, and Carmody's decision to employ the 1-3-1 took the starch out of the Ospreys' offense.

There is much glee in Wildcatland these days. Certainly a seven game winning streak is cause for celebration. That and the fact that NU is not dependent on one or two guys this year to win. To be sure Juice is the key and he needs to be out there for this team to motor, but on any given night it is difficult to predict just who will be the MVP. Last night Mirkovic stepped it up big time with 8 assists and 3-4 shooting from distance. Does NU at long last have a Princeton Offense center?

One area for concern that has been lost in the purple wave of enthusiasm is NU's defensive woes. In the first halves of the past two games NU has tried to employ the match-up zone and even a little straight-up man defense. In both games the overmatched cupcake scored with relative ease. This is not good as NU needs to be able to switch defenses to keep opposing offenses off balance. NU needs to continue to work on defense as Carmody himself acknowledged in his post-game interview last night.

There is some concern among fans that NU is too reliant on the three pointer. Hogwash! NU's propensity to knock it down from distance is unequivocally a great thing. It forces defenses to come out to guard around the arc which opens up the passing lanes for cutters. This will become abundantly clear in NU's next game against Stanford which already has a penchant for aggressive press defense.

16 December 2009

On Big Ten Geeks

First off we at Carmody Court want to make it clear that we think the Big Ten Geeks do as good a job as anybody in covering Big Ten men's basketball and generally speaking give NU a fair shake. To BTG's credit it should bring a smile to Northwestern fans faces that BTG gave NU an "A" for season-to-date performance.

Yet BTG is not beyond reproach and is susceptible to suffering from the residual effects of decades Northwestern futility that is so common among fans, coaches, and media alike. For example just in the past few days there have been a couple of subtle shows of disrespect for the season that NU is putting together. First in BTG's grades mentioned above they mention that OSU will be Butler's best win of the season. While this statement is in itself subject to debate BTG acknowledges Butler defeated OSU at Hinkle Fieldhouse which reduces the value of Butler's win vis a vis other games against BCS opponents, namely Georgetown, Minnesota, and Clemson). Why isn't NU included in this list?

In addition in their analysis of Minnesota's trouncing of Northern Illinois last night BTG used Illinois-NIU game as a basis for comparison. If BTG is going to use NIU to apply the transitivity property to Big Ten teams then why isn't Northwestern part of this exercise?

15 December 2009

Better Know An Opponent: University of North Florida

The University of North Florida ("UNF") Ospreys, in their first full-fledged Division 1 season, descend upon the Welsh this Wednesday December 16 at 8pm Central. The game will be broadcast to a national television audience on the U (check with your local cable or satellite provider for channel number). This will be just the second nationally televised game in UNF history.

UNF Quick Facts:
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Nickname: Ospreys

Coach: Matthew Driscoll (first year -- previously the top assistant at Baylor for 6 years)
Team Colors: Navy Blue & Gray
Conference: Atlantic Sun (fka Trans America Athletic Conference, founded in 1978)
Student Population: 16.5K

UNF was founded in 1969 and opened its doors in 1972. Today UNF is a member of the State University System of Florida and is considered one of the best bangs for your buck for colleges by Princeton Review (~$4k-$4.5k tuition this year). It's most noted academic program is Jazz Studies (maybe visiting fans will want to check out the Green Mill).

UNF was predicted to finish 9th in the Atlantic Sun by the coaches and 11th by the media (of 11).

Projected Starting Five:

G Haugabrook 6'0" 185 #1 Jr.
G Januska 6'6" 210 #32 Sr.
G Granberry 6'4" 215 #15 Fr.
F Jeune 6'6" 210 #24 Fr.
F Diaz 6'7" 220 #21 Fr.

Like Tennessee State, the starting five doesn't mean much to the Ospreys. No one is averaging more than 25 mins per game, and there are 10 players who play at least 12 minutes per game. Will they employ the line shift like Tenn St? Januska is the only player of note. He averages 11.2 PPG, shoots over 50% from distance (!!!!), and is the ONLY Osprey who has more assists than turnovers (yikes!!!!).

The good news for the Ospreys? UNF did manage to play Alabama tough for a half (the same 'Bama squad that led Purdue big into the second half earlier this week). The bad news? Alabama won by 22. The good news? UNF is healthy. The bad news? Healthy<>Good. The good news? The Ospreys nearly defeated Northwestern on Nov 15, 2006 dropping a riveting battled 39-40. The bad news? This ain't the same Northwestern.

What to expect? NU is (7-1) and in the "Others Receiving Votes" section of the AP and Coaches polls. UNF is (1-5) (0-2) and is coming off two weeks rest. CUPCAKE CITY BABYYYYYYYYYY!

Northwestern currently one of "Last Four In"

Carmody Court would be satisfied with an 11 seed....

14 December 2009

Mission Accomplished: NU 90 - NCATS 65

Blowout. Emptying of bench (Hearns, Fruendt got 4 minutes). Steady as she goes!

11 December 2009

Better Know an Opponent: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

If ever there were a time to abbreviate an opponent this is it! The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University ("NCATS") Aggies invade the Welsh this Sunday December 13 at 4pm Central. The game will be streamd online at bigtennetwork.com (available for $2.99) and rebroadcast on the BTN at 10pm.

NCAT Quick Facts:
Location: Greensboro, NC
Official Nickname: Aggies
Unofficial Nickname: Fightin' NCATS

(No, not this "NCAT")

(This "NCATS")

Coach: Jerry Eaves (sixth year)
Team Colors: Blue & Gold
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference ("MEAC") -- the NCATs are one of six founding members of the 40 year old conference
Student Population: 10.3K
Most Famous Alum: Jesse Jackson (what is it with all these religious affiliations/figureheads for NU opponents?!?!?!)

NCATS was founded in 1891 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race (holy time warp batman!). Today NCATS is the largest publicly funded historic black college in North Carolina (just how many publicly funded historic black colleges are there in NC?). The NCATS' claim to fame is that it produces black engineers in record numbers (and flamboyant religious figures).

The NCATS were predicted to finish right in the middle of MEAC this year. So far these predictions don't look far off as the team is (4-5) though the NCATS did pull off an OT win in their first conference tilt at Norfolk State, the predicted #3 MEAC team.

Projected Starting Five:

G Tavarus Alston 6'0" 170 #3 Sr.
G Nic Simpson 6'3" 190 #12 So.
F Robert Johnson 6'6" 200 #34 Sr.
F DaMetrius Upchurch 6'7" 210 #33 Fr.
F/C Thomas Coleman 6'9" 235 #23 Jr.

The NCATS probably have the sixth man of the MEAC award sewed up already as 6'2" senior guard Dwane (no typo) Joshua leads the NCATs in scoring (16.7 PPG), 3FG% (40.8% on 20-49 shooting), and is second on the team in minutes (29.3 MPG). Carmody Court surmises the reason "No Typo" doesn't start is that he doesn't seem very versatile (only 8 assists in 6 games) nor does he value the roundball (15 turnovers to 6 steals). Tavarus Alston has emerged as another offensive presence for the NCATs as he has led the team in scoring in the past two games.

The NCATS may feel at home in the Welsh environs with NU students on break. Their average home attendance has been approximately 2K and have played before about 4K people on the road. Like most smaller conference teams at this time of year the NCATS are road warriors (6 of 9 games away from Greensboro).

NU stands to be the NCATS' best competition to date (losses to Marshall, UTEP, and Ohio are their only notable games). The NCATS greatest strength per Pomeroy is ball protection (ranked 27 in turnovers), and their inside presence is solid on defense (ranked 71 in block% and 119 in 2P%). Then again these stats are skewed by a pretty weak strength of schedule.

What to expect? In this sort of mismatch no in-depth analysis is necessary (fortunately so since info on the NCATs is scarce). Anything short of a blowout and an emptying of NU's bench would be a disappointment and begin to diminish the buzz that has come from NU's last three games in which NU handed BCS conference teams their first losses of the young season.

09 December 2009

More pollspeak.com fodder

For completeness Carmody Court also looked at how AP voters ranked NU to Butler which is responsible for the lone blemish on NU's record to date. Of the 65 AP voters, ten ranked NU higher than Butler. I can hear the screams of bias coming from the mid-major fans. Or at least I did until Georgetown demolished the Bulldogs last night at MSG in the JimmyV Classic.

Unlike those who ranked ND and NC State above NU, the ten journalists who ranked NU higher do have a leg to stand on since Butler has gone on to lose some games and there should be an asterisk next to the NU-Butler game as NU was still in disarray when the game was played after the losses of Coble and Ryan.

Lastly Carmody Court also noticed that Lindsey Willhite did not rank NU in his Top 25 this week. Where's the love?

08 December 2009

For a Dukie, Jay Bilas is not half-bad!

So we flip on Indiana-Pitt in the JimmyV classic on ESPN, and what do we hear within the first minute of listening? Why..... it's Jay Bilas talking about how Northwestern is an NCAA tournament team even without Kevin Coble.

There seems to be a lot of buzz resurfacing for NU right now. The NCAA had an article the other day, and ESPN had a nice tribute to Juice Thompson.


Cabin Fever setting in early for Montanans?

John over at Chicago College Basketball wrote an interesting post on NU's AP votes released this week. Carmody Court was previously unaware of this data source over at pollspeak.com so a big shout out to John for the reference.

John's post focused on some the oddities of how AP voters ranked ND and NU. We at Carmody Court also find it curious how some voters could rank ND higher than NU which runs counter to on-the-court evidence from the CIC over Turkey Weekend. In fact, we'd add the following to John's observations:

1. Nick Jezierny of The Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID) ranked ND 18 and NU 24
2. John Bohnenkamp of The Hawk Eye (Burlington, IA) ranked ND 20 and NU 21

Carmody Court puts a slightly different spin on the pollspeak.com data and compares how AP voters ranked NU vs recently vanquished NC State. Scott Mansch over at the Great Falls Tribune (Great Falls, MT) has some 'splainin to do! How exactly could he rank NC State 23rd and not rank NU? Did NC State's victory at Marquette somehow completely undo the fact that NU opened up a can of whoopass on the Wolfpack down in Raleigh just last week? What's even more amazing is that people have rated Mr Mansch a good voter to the tune of 20:3. WTF???

04 December 2009

On Manny Harris

Carmody Court watched Michigan lose to BC the other night, and we came away thoroughly unimpressed with the Wolvies. We just don't get all the love for Manny Harris. Perhaps it was an off night but for all of his athleticism he doesn't seem all that skilled. His MO is to either chuck up an ill-advised bomb or drive to the hoop and throw up a sad looking shot probably in the hope of getting fouled on the way in.

The most gamely Michigan player looked like former NU target Matt Vogrich. He was heady out there, but at this point we're happy NU landed Alex Marcotullio as AM has similar moxie but a better looking shot.

Countdown to Primal Scream

Good luck on Final Exams everyone!

On Oregon State and the First Brother-in-Law

Coach Carmody's critics have often criticized Carmody for how long it has taken him to right the ship. This criticism is not completely from out of left field as Carmody himself has said that he didn't expect it to take this long to turn NU around. We at Carmody Court maintain both Coach Carmody's and his critic's expectations were unrealistic as they did not fully appreciate just how much work was required to overcome the program's sorry history.

One example that Carmody's critics used last year as evidence for why "it's too little, too late" for Carmody was the turnaround engineered by Craig Robinson, First Brother-In-Law and former NU assistant under Coach Carmody, at Oregon State last season. Robinson in his first year as head coach took a winless Oregon State program from the prior season and used the Princeton Offense to lead OSU to a 7-11 conference record and CBI championship. If Coach Robinson could do that in one year at OSU then how could it possibly take nine-plus years for Coach Carmody to do so at NU when using the same system? Carmody's critics even went so far as to say that NU should have fired Carmody and retained Robinson to get NU to the holy grail.

Fast forward to this year and we hear nary a word from Carmody's critics about Craig Robinson. Why? For one thing NU's performance to date has left little room to open fire on Coach Carmody so this probably explains why they've kept their powder dry so far. Oregon State's 2-3 record including a 24 point home loss to TAMU Corpus Christi and a loss to Sacramento St probably also has something to do with their amnesia.

Carmody Court wishes nothing but the best to Coach Robinson (except if he meets up with NU on the court) this year and beyond. However if Carmody's critics are going to use his season last year as reason for criticizing Carmody then it is fair game to point out that Robinson isn't doing nearly as well as Carmody this year.

01 December 2009

Recap: NU 65 NC St 53

NC State did not look like a good team save for that beast Smith down low. The feeling of the game was that NU was in complete control and only temporarily let the game slip from their grasp after some dumb turnovers. NU's defense was suffocating and disruptive as NC State never seemed comfortable on offense. Carmody Court expects the defense to win games this year against teams that lack experience and/or above average passing skills at the collegiate level at most positions.

But, the obvious story of the game was Juice Thompson. Hands down, Juice was the best guy on the court. Period. Sure, Smith from NC State had his way down low and commanded extra NU attention. But it was Juice Thompson who came up with the big bucket or called the right play and got the ball to the right guy at the right time in this game.

Nash had a stellar game. Until the refs jobbed him with a couple of poor calls that sent him to the bench for much of the second half. To be sure, his absence played a major part in NC State mounting any semblance of a comeback in this game. Carmody Court does not like the strategy of posting Nash. He's too short and not quick enough to score against small forwards. Scrap that one, coach.

Shurna picked up where he left off and had a good first half. NC State focused on stopping him in the second half with Horner playing tight defense on the wily soph. That opened things up for the guards which Thompson took advantage of. No worries about the second half drop off -- it's more of a sign of respect for Shurna's presence and skill than poor play.

Marcotullio had what we'd call an average game. Missed some open looks, forced some shots, but made some dagger 3s at opportune times, and played good defense. He panicked a couple of times which resulted in bad turnovers and easy NC State points, but he is a frosh after all.

Rowley confounds Carmody Court. Once he had the ball under control and in position, he is tough to stop. However, he bobbles the ball way too much and doesn't get himself into position nearly enough. Still a work in process. He also needs to realize that he's 7 foot and take it hard to the hole with the ball up high. Worst thing to happen would be a foul which is ok by Carmody Court as Kyle shows nice form from the charity stripe.

Mirkovic played ok. Showed some nice offensive moves but was prone to the questionable pass that also resulted in NC State points in the second half. Still, Mirkovic deserves the majority of minutes at the center spot.

Crawford was pretty invisible. That's actually not a bad thing for a frosh. Still a work in process.

Peljusic only played because Nash got into foul trouble. It was curious that Curletti played only a couple of minutes - was he hurt or just matched-up poorly against the burly and athletic NC State front court?

Overall, a good win for NU. NC State looks to be a bottom tier ACC team, but a win on the road in a hostile environment is always a good thing. NU is off for a dozen days for finals and next hosts NC A&T on Dec 13. In the meantime enjoy basking in the glow of the last few games Cats fans.

Countdown to NU @ NC State (ACC-B10 Challenge)

Carmody Court is back in the saddle, but we are still playing catch-up from the long Holiday weekend so no full scouting report for tonight's game down in Raleigh against the NC State Wolfpack. This game is part of the ACC-B10 "Challenge." The B10 has yet to win this thing in ten tries, and the pundits have pointed to this being the year that the B10 finally breaks the ACC's relentless grip in this fun series. For some good background on tonight's game, check out:

NU Official Athletic Website
Welsh-Ryan Ramblings
Chicago College Basketball
Daily Herald
Purple Reign (Scout.com)
Lake The Posts

Brief Recap of and Thoughts on This Past Week:

NU is riding high coming into game after raising some eyebrows on the way to the Chicago Invitational Challenge title this past weekend. NU took care of business in the first couple of rounds against Tennessee Tech and Liberty earlier in the week and then knocked off then-#23 Notre Dame in the semis and an undefeated and gamely Iowa State squad in the finals. John Shurna earned tourney MVP after showing off the improvement that we had heard about from insiders to the program. Keep it up, John!

Another key to NU's success has been the emergence of Alex Marcotullio. The kid is shooting a torrid 52% from distance and has also demonstrated a high "basketball IQ" in nearly all other facets of the game. NU fans are falling all over themselves for Alex. Hopefully fans will remember he is just a frosh if and when his shooting numbers come back to earth.

Carmody Court is warming up to the idea of a starting lineup of Juice, Marcotullio, Crawford, Shurna, and Mirkovic. Marcotullio has yet to crack the starting lineup, but it would only be a matter of time until he gets there if his play continues at or near its current high level. Crawford oozes potential that is not a long way off from breaking through, and we think NU should just go through the growing pains now and reap those benefits come conference time. Mirkovic has struggled a bit, but Carmody Court still thinks he deserves the bulk of the minutes in the middle.