29 December 2014

GAMBLE Report 2.02

"You can't really use youth as an excuse anymore.  The youth on this the team that plays has all played a significant amount over the six games.  I think we should know the ups and downs of college now.  We have played enough basketball to know how the college game is and how the feel of the game goes"

-- Vic Law [Daily Northwestern article, December 3, 2014]

The 2015 edition of Northwestern basketball has completed the non-conference portion of its schedule. Has the infusion of CCC-recruited players begun to make its mark?  Do we see any inklings of progress towards the NCAAs glass ceiling?  If you believe Vic Law -- the guy who has been tagged as the "Purple Moses" and will lead NU to the NCAAs promised land -- one might expect so much from his proclamations earlier this month to the Daily NU folks.

Let's see what the GAMBLE Report has to say about the matter.....

Since our last run of the GAMBLE Report NU has played six games and won four of 'em.  NU was favored in five of those games (all but Butler), but the Central Michiganders had something to say about that when they visited The Welsh back on December 17.

NU's collective performance over this six game span has resulted in a modest 4 rung drop in the overall kenpom rankings to #135.  On offense the team has improved by 25 rungs thanks to much improved marks in three of the four factors (all but FTR).  On defense the team has regressed by 23 rungs principally because this team continues to struggle in creating opponent turnovers.  

Of our internal benchmarks on the whole this 2015 team is most comparable (least different?) on offense and defense to the ill-fated 2013 team.  Sure the team is rebounding much better than in 2013, but that difference has been offset by turnovers on both ends.  Overall this 2015 team is 31 rungs worse on offense than the 2013 team and 25 rungs better on defense.  

Things were looking bleaker after the C Michigan game when NU sunk down to #155.  So the optimists can run with the bounce back over the last few games as a sign that this team is starting to gel if they wish.  Although it is unrealistic to expect a return to the 2014 team's defensive prowess we think  that more tangibly it would help matters if NU could shore-up the defensive side of things a bit.  

Regardless the fact remains that this team is still stuck in neutral from where it was at the end of the ill-fated 2013 season and far behind the NIT years.  Since Dr Jim has stated in no uncertain terms that this program will be held to external benchmarks (read: NCAAs) it is crystal clear that much works needs to be done by CCC over the next few years.