10 January 2010

Recap: Northwestern 68 Michigan 62

The storyline is obvious and has been hit upon time and again by the press and blogosphere. Freshman Drew Crawford took NU on his shoulders and carried the team to victory in Ann Arbor. Crawford's 11 unanswered points late in the first half rescued NU which was down by 17 points at the time. NU still trailed by nine points at the half, but momentum had clearly swung in NU's direction thanks to Crawford's heroics.

NU came out on fire in the second half and in a blink of the eye Michigan's lead was trimmed to three. From there the game was a stalemate until the 11 minute mark when Luka Mirkovic knocked down a three that seemingly broke Michigan's levee. NU then went on to build a 10 point lead by the 7 minute mark on balanced scoring from distance.

Michigan managed to claw its way back to a one point lead with less than 2 minutes to play, but the star of the game was once again up to the challenge. On consecutive possessions Crawford received nice passes and took the ball strong to the hole. Michigan did the smart thing and fouled Crawford hard to make the frosh earn it from the charity stripe. And that he did. Four straight swishes and NU's lead was back to three points.

Michigan never threatened from that point as Coach Carmody called for a full court press for the first time in the game which completely disrupted Michigan's guards.

Crawford is making quite the name for himself and has made one reputable blogger's top 25 freshmen list. Carmody Court perused the Big Ten's statistics, and Crawford is arguably the leader for BTFOY given the in-conference statistics. Obviously it is way to early to hand out any hardware, and Crawford will definitely have his up's and down's the rest of the way this season. But we like Crawford's chances given how rapidly his game is developing.

One of the keys to the season we had been monitoring was Crawford's development, and we are glad to report that he is ahead of even our optimistic hopes at this juncture. Keep up the great work, Drew!