25 November 2012

Northwestern 72 Illinois State 69 (F-OT)

Northwestern is raw.  Northwestern is young.  Northwestern's offense is clicking on 3 of its 8 cylinders.  Yet Northwestern is winning.  On neutral courts.  Against NCAAs-quality teams.How so?  Rebounding and defense.  This is a brave new world for Northwestern Basketball.

We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.  This was just one game, and there are sure to be missteps along the way with all the fresh faces.  But we can't help fantasize about what this team will look like after its had time to coalesce.

They say defense and rebounding don't take nights off.  NU is already much improved in these areas and there is room for improvement just six games into the season.  The offense is not the well-oiled machine we have seen in the past, but it stands to reason that the new parts will figure it out.

If and when that happens for the offense this team has the potential to play at a higher level than we've seen during the Carmody offense.  Good defense AND good offense?  We're just giddy about the very notion!

The star was Jared Swopshire who has really shown us something on both ends of the court.  The quick Redbirds were a tough matchup for Alex Olah; unlike years past NU had a viable Option B in Mike Turner who is growing quickly into a collegiate center.  Dude got ups and has a nice touch when given space at the elbow.

Dave Sobolewski stepped up big in the latter stages of the game much like the Mississippi Valley State game.  He's a gamer.  Reggie Hearn continued to fill the hoop which is keeping our man Tre Demps on the pine -- not that we are complaining.  Drew Crawford had an off night offensively -- it is a bullish sign that NU's star player can struggle offensively against a quality opponent and still win.

We have seen complaints about the offense -- SOHs on that one.  Defense and rebounding have been NU's Achilles heel.  When we finally see a leap forward in those departments then it's the inept offense that is of concern?  Some folks will always find something to complain about even if it means changing the talking points.  Look it.  NU has not been lucky these past few games that our opponents have been bad offensively.  NU has CAUSED THAT so give credit where it's due. 

Next up: Maryland comes to the Welsh for the B1G-ACC challenge this Tuesday at 8:15PM Central.  This game is intriguing in wake of news that broke within the last week that Maryland will be leaving the ACC to join the B1G.  It will be a tough game with NBA prospect 7'1" Alex Len manning the middle.  Maryland crashes the boards hard which will be a good test for NU's improvement on the boards and on defense.