‘Cats Fall To Stanford & Injury Bug, 70-68
The score was 32-14. Stanford was shooting 80% from 3-point land and NU couldn’t even get out of its own way on offense. BTN announcers Dave Revsine and Mike Kelley were in their blowout, garbage time script and we were halfway through the first half. It was ugly. Then, Alex Marcotullio hit a deep three and a light switch went on. Reggie Hearn, Alex Olah and Marcotullio sparked a 15-0 run that brought listless Welsh-Ryan to a raucous state. It was game on.
Stanford seemed to own that pyschological edge as everytime NU would get close, or even tie, the Cardinal responded. Then, with nearly seven minutes to go in the game Marcotullio swiped and directed a great lead pass in one motion to a breaking Reggie Hearn, a guy who just exploded and had 14 points at the time. Hearn looked like he sprained his ankle when stepping on the defender’s foot as he was fouled, but in the postgame Bill Carmody said he thought the same thing but heard it might be a knee – ugh. He would hit his free throws and gimp down the court. There was no stoppage in play and the ‘Cats came down again and in a battle on the boards sequence, Hearn somehow timed a jump for a put-back and then got slammed to the floor. The ‘Cats were all the way back and his gutsy play just had you shaking your head saying “this is a likable bunch of guys”. Hearn would leave and not return. I sat there and thought “obviously no Cobb, no Crawford, no Cerina and now Hearn?!!!” Personally I thought we were done, but then Tre Demps showed why he is the scoring spark plug that he is. Demps rattled off point after point despite a couple of bad air balls mixed in. The guy just has that “it” factor where he can generate scoring unlike anyone else we have. Alex Olah continued to play his best game of the year and there we were down 2 with the ball with :20 to go. Amazing.
The ‘Cats got a great shot as Demps drove through the lane on one of his patented floating runners, that went in and out and Stanford made a headsy play to save the ball and throw it off Sobolewski with 2.9 left. It was game over from there. When you add in the fact Sobo had just 1 point and the fact we were THIS close to winning was somewhat remarkable. Alas, it is a loss and the ‘Cats drop to 8-4, while Stanford improves to 8-4 and now we get to worry about Reggie Hearn. After a very poor start, Reggie stepped up to take over for us in stretches and played like he always does. I’m starting to wonder if the hoops Gods are conspiring though, as I think we can agree Cobb, Crawford and Cerina are more than enough in paying the price for whatever thing we did to mess with the karma.
It’s pretty clear with the loaded B1G this is going to be a tough year and a learning year for many players. I think even having Nikola Cerina tonight would’ve been the difference maker. Alex Olah simply looked fantastic in the paint on offense and outplayed Stanford’s star, Dwight Powell, who has been owning games of late. Olah did a great job sealing Powell in the paint and he was assertive when he got the ball on the wing. Olah had 16 points on 6/12 shooting and went 4/6 from the line. If he brings that game every night, we’ll be much improved from the early season. Meanwhile, Demps showed flashes again of why he’ll likely be a star in Evanston. He’s got cat-like quickness and a good sense for the ball and that intangible create thing. My hunch is he’s the guy we’ll all be talking about in February as we try to pump ourselves up for 2013-2014. It really, really makes you wonder what Bill Carmody is thinking by not starting Demps or giving him a bunch of minutes. He is averaging nearly a point per minute in his last three games (39 points in 40 minutes). He needs to be getting huge minutes from here on out and it should start on Sunday. The glaring lack of go-to scorers was painfully obvious in the first half. And Tre Demps, occasional wild shot and all, is going to be that guy for us in B1G play to help ease the load Reggie Hearn is going to feel.
Also, just when you thought Alex Marcotullio would be a five minute a game guy, he came out and played fantastic. He had 10 points which were huge parts of the comeback, but was even bigger with his 3 steals, and the havoc he created in the 1-3-1. It was a great game by the senior guard.
We played so miserably for the first 10 minutes of the game we didn’t deserve to win. Stanford, usually a miserable three point shooting team started 6-7 and while you tip your cap (they’d shoot 11/24 from 3 while NU went just 5/13), the ‘Cats soft D early on was borderline embarassing. However, there were some bright spots amid the “I can’t believe this is happening AGAIN” Hearn injury. The ‘Cats have one last game – Sunday vs Brown – before we open with, gulp, Michigan to start the New Year. You can click here for the box score and recap. Also, here is Teddy Greenstein’s story on the ‘Cats loss.
LTP Bowl Mania
And…my chance at perfection is gone. I erroneously picked Ball State over UCF, but the Cardinals got thumped. The good news is I had only 4 points on the game. The Knights win did shake-up the standings, however, as ChartMoose dropped to second place while JuggleItUp claims the top honors with 101 points. However, in the all important PPR (potential points remaining), our new leader only has 497, while #2 Chartmoose has 530 and the pair tied for third – LoveMeSomeVenricMark and Scuzz Model – both with 96 points, have 534 in the PPR. Later today Louisiana-Lafayette takes on East Carolina and I put a 33 spot on LL. Also, I’ve got Boise State, like nearly everyone in our pool, over Washington, but I put only 11 points on that one.