12 March 2012

Minnesota 75 Northwestern 68 (EF-OT)

We are sick and tired of typing "F-OT" with Northwestern (18-13) coming up on the short end of the stick.  It is not surprising that NU loses in OT with its short bench, but rationalization does not make us feel much better about the OT losses that have been piling up and, more to the point, have landed NU in the NIT yet again.  If it happens again we will first pull out all of our hair and hereafter call it "EF-OT" until the NCAAs-hex is lifted.  Never mind.  We like the idea so much that we're going to go ahead and make it rule starting now.  Mother ef'ing overtime!

Things looked promising when NU had the ball and a 61-57 lead with just under 4 minutes to play.  But from that point on NU simply did not execute on offense:

LAYUP MINN [61-59]
MINN LAYUP [61-61]
OT (EF!)

To sum up NU went 0-4 from the field and had 2 turnovers on its final 6 possessions.  It's a minor miracle that NU didn't lose in regulation with such an ugly stretch run, but Minnesota didn't take the bull by the horn themselves with two turnovers.

The most frustrating part of this whole sequence was the Sobo turnover.  Coach calls a timeout to setup a play, and you throw the ball right to a Minnesota defender on the inbounds pass?  Horrific decision.

Overtime was a blur.  All we can remember was JerShon Cobb booting the ball off his leg and out of bounds with less than a minute to play and NU down 3 points.  A microcosm of NU's season and poise down the stretch right there.

This post has turned out much harsher than we intended.  Pent up frustration over missing the NCAAs welling up to the surface.  That and I have some psychosomatic sickness from the fallout of the Thursday loss that has made me all achy and irritable. 

For balance we do feel compelled to say that JerShon Cobb had a breakout game.  24 points on 8-12 shooting including a perfect 3-3 from distance.  5-5 from charity stripe, 8 rebounds including 3 offensive, 2 steals.  Oh baby!  This is the JerShon we had hoped to see this year.  We lie -- this was above and beyond what we had hoped to see.  If Cobb can sustain even 3/4ths of this level we would be ecstatic.

Johnny Shurna was the other standout.  24 points, 3 boards, 2 blocks.  Marcotullio had a nice game we thought -- 2-4 from distance -- but he was limited by dizziness spells and could not play during the pivotal ending minutes of regulation.

Other than that it was a forgettable day for the rest of the team.  Sobo had one of his worst games of the year.  Ditto that for Crawford and Hearn.  We should credit Minnesota's defense since they definitely did a good job bothering this trio.  Still there were some ugly looking shots even on open looks.  'nuf said. 

Next up is a first round NIT game when the Akron Zips (22-11) visit the Welsh on Tuesday at 8pm.  We don't know anything about the Zips except that they won the regular season MAC title.  That doesn't impress us much since the MAC was always going to be a one-bid league this year.  NU will be favored in this game.  If nothing else NU has demonstrated an ability to take care of business against lower ranked teams (kenpom has Akron at 79 and NU at 58) -- especially at home.  So long as NU isn't hungover with disappointment then we expect NU to win this game.