02 January 2012

NORTHWESTERN 68 Penn St 56 (F)

A surprisingly well attended Welsh Ryan Arena could not coax NU's offense to wake up during a forgettable first half against a graduation-depleted, Ed Dechellis-less Penn State squad.  Coach Carmody tore the team a collective new one during halftime, and NU responded with a well-oiled offensive output in the second half.  A twelve point home win against the Nittany Lions is hardly something to get overly excited about, but the second half in which NU outscored Penn St 45-30 is a sign of what this team is capable of doing when they come to play.

The hope now is that NU can build upon confidence from this victory and grab another home victory when Illinois invades the Welsh on Wednesday evening.  The game is projected to be tight which should make for a good atmosphere as the Illini fans descend upon Evanston in large numbers.  It is important that NU gets off the blocks fast in this game.  A Northwestern victory would help carry the team through the next dozen games which is the real meat grinder portion of the B1G schedule. 

Aside from DJ Richardson the Illini are not a very good outside shooting team.  Illinois is much improved down low this year with a rapidly developing Myers Leonard manning the center spot.  On paper this game screams for liberal deployment of zone defenses to help our centers defend the paint and encourage the Illini to become a perimeter-oriented team.  Just make sure not to wander too far from Richardson!