‘Cats Complete Season Opening Homestand With 69-50 Win Over Delaware State

Welcome back, Drew Crawford. The ‘Cats senior star sparked NU with a pair of threes to end the first half to post a 35-22 lead at the half and they would never look back en route to a 69-50 win Tuesday night. You might remember, the senior guard exploded out of the gates this season with a near perfect first half and 20 points in the opener. Yet, the past two home games, Drew was either plagued with foul trouble or seemed to be forcing the issue, but the Drew we know and love returned tonight to lead all ‘Cats with 18 points on a torrid 7/11 shooting (4/7 from 3-point range) and grabbed seven rebounds while playing the full 40 minutes.

The ‘Cats found themselves playing from behind much of the first half as the Delaware State Hornets match-up zone threw the ‘Cats off their game, but the combination of Crawford and David Sobolewski sparking the ‘Cats down the stretch of the first half helped NU regain momentum that they really wouldn’t lose the rest of the game. After going 10 deep early in the season, Bill Carmody was limited to only an eight man rotation that included Alex Marcotullio getting 23 minutes, Mike Turner 11 minutes (and 6 points) and Tre Demps getting just 7 minutes. Kale Abrahamson, a 9th player, made a cameo of just 2 minutes.  As expected Nikola Cerina was sidelined with the ankle injury and freshman Sanjay Lumpkin has been recovering from mononucleosis.

Continuing the new trend inherent with the 2012-13 ‘Cats bigs, Northwestern controlled the boards with a commanding 31-17 edge, many of which they were able to convert in to second chance points. Sobo (14 points), Hearn (12 points) and Olah (10 points, 6 rebounds) all joined Crawford with double-digits. Make no mistake about it, this game was won on the boards and from 3-point land. The ‘Cats went 12/21 (57%) from beyond the arc, with Sobo (4/5), Hearn (3/4) and Crawford (4/7) combining to go 11/16 from three. When those guys shoot like that, they’ll be able to beat most teams in the country. Northwestern also continued its national best assist mark racking up another 21 assists on the night as Hearn, Sobo, Marcotullio and Swopshire all chipping in with four each.

Alex Olah continues to impress and his consistency is the thing that may stick out most to me. He continues to pour in points in the paint, crashes the boards, but he is a disruptive force on D, altering shots, rebounding well and playing solid denial D on his man. Alex had 10 points on 5/7 shooting, but also stuffed the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a pair of assists.

The theme of NU’s first four opponents has been that each team has featured one star who has gone off on us. Tonight, that man was guard Tahj Tate who poured in 23 points, including 4/6 from beyond the arc. Forward Tyshawn Bell drained three threes midway through the second half to cut the ‘Cats lead to 50-42, but that is close as the Hornets would get. David Sobolewski would hit a pair of threes that seemed to inspire his teammates to continue draining from outside. The ‘Cats also crashed the boards and both Crawford and Jared Swopshire (6 pts) had key putbacks on missed lay-ups.

Northwestern moves to 4-0 against a slew of triple digit RPI teams which seemed like perfect scheduling for Bill Carmody to experiment with lineups considering he has nine new faces this season. The ‘Cats have now won 19 November games in a row, the third best mark in the nation, but don’t kid yourself, our November opponent list would make you have to look long and hard to find “good” teams. That mark will be tested now. Northwestern hops on a plane tomorrow to South Padre Island to continue this multi-city t0urnament where they will face TCU on Friday night, ironically likely without TCU transfer Nikola Cerina.  The ‘Cats will then play either Illinois State OR UAB on Saturday evening depending upon which teams win their respective games. From there, the schedule really starts to uptick as Top 20 Baylor, a Butler team that throttled #9 North Carolina tonight, Maryland and Stanford all are yet to come post Thanksgiving.

For now, Northwestern fans can breathe a sigh of relief that we’ve had no hiccups as many schools are having. Teams like Columbia knocking off Villanova seem to be nightly examples of eyebrow raising upsets. Unfortunately, as we’ve progressed through the four game homestand, Carmody’s bench depth has dwindled. It should be really interesting to see how Sanjay Lumpkin gets worked in to the lineup in the coming weeks as the 6-6 freshman drew the biggest raves of any newcomer from Bill Carmody.  Below is the box score for our ‘Cats:

Jared Swopshire, F 26 2-8 0-1 3-3 2 6 4 0 2 0 0 7
A Olah 25 5-7 0-0 0-1 1 6 2 3 0 1 0 10
Drew Crawford, G-F 40 7-11 4-7 0-0 1 7 1 0 1 4 2 18
Reggie Hearn, G 28 4-7 3-4 1-1 1 4 4 0 0 3 3 12
Dave Sobolewski, G 37 5-9 4-5 0-1 1 2 4 0 0 0 1 14
Alex Marcotullio, G 23 1-2 0-1 0-0 3 5 4 1 0 0 2 2
Mike Turner, F 11 2-3 1-1 1-2 1 1 2 0 1 0 1 6
Tre Demps, G 7 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
K Abrahamson 3 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
26-51 12-21 5-8 10 31 21 4 4 8 9 69

2013 Opponent News
The ‘Cats 2013 season opening opponent, Cal, with have a new head coach. Jeff Tedford, who was 2-7 in the Pac 12 this season and just 9-18 in conference play over the past three seasons. Tedford inherited a 1-win program 11 seasons ago and took them to a 10-2 finish and a #9 ranking in 2004. We’ll keep you posted on this development as we have an obvious interest in our first game on what we hope will be a special year.

  • DarkSide

    In trying to find a silver lining in the cloud called B1G expansion (that is why I am called DarkSide), I think we are poised to improve our basketball recruiting. Coach Carmody and Coach Hill are quite intimate with New Jersey. Now New Jersey with be quite intimate with Northwestern (by extension, hopefully, NY, Md, too). With great change comes great opportunity. Let us take advantage of what has been given to us.
    Go ‘Cats. Destroy Illinois.

    • Super Fu-eds

      Dark Side – Not just bball recruiting. NJ a true hotbed of very good HS football. If NU’s protected crossover is Rutgers – will have a recruiting upside for us. Downside of course will be every other year trips to New Brunswick, NJ

      • Chasmo

        New York is overflowing with NU alums — the thousands of Cat fans at West Point attest to that as Army supporters said it was the largest crowd of non-East Coast fans they had ever seen — and so games at the very nice Rutgers football stadium should be very good experiences for the Cats as the support will be significant.
        As road trips go, going to the Big Apple beats every other Big Ten location in terms of fun for fans by miles.