‘Cats Fall To Stanford & Injury Bug, 70-68

Courtesy Chicago Tribune/David Banks USA Today

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.

  • bandcat

    Is it possible the Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger guy did try to get a goat into Welsh Ryan?

  • Leither

    I was ready to leave before halftime. We were playing like a school for the blind, and a young school at that, and the refs were just as bad. Stanford had at least three traveling calls that went unnoticed. The only ray of light I was seeing was Olah down low, and while he only bounced the ball three times the entire game, he played with great vigor. I wasn’t expecting us to win the game, and I wasn’t terribly upset when we lost—There is just a lot of growing that needs to be done!

  • vaudvillain

    ANUBBHG?

    • NU_Roger

      +1

  • PDXCat

    As mentioned a few posts ago, Demps was “playing young”, pressing a bit. Last night there was a stretch where he air-balled a floater in the lane and forced a bad 3. BC went to his bench to replace him. Then, he hit a couple shots and was on a little roll. To his credit, BC called the sub back from the scorer’s table and left Demps in. Maybe this is the point at which Demps starts seeing the floor more.

    And the zone looked pretty active. Except for a few maddening lost rebounds under our own hoop, we seemed to really frustrate them a bit

    • Kat

      Demps’ wildness is very similar to Cobb as a frosh.

      • PDXCat

        And look what happened with Cobb when healthy. A tough road to hoe, I imagine, giving them enough leeway to grow through freshman-ness while trying to keep things together on the floor.

  • Chasmo

    Why can’t NU’s kids play hard and with poise for 40 minutes?
    NU comes out flat against Stanford and then — at least according to the post game press conference — Marco, Hearns, and Sobo rally the troops after they fall behind by 18 and NU starts playing hard. Did Carmody contribute to that emotional turnaround? No one said so.
    In the final minutes of the first half when Stanford is on its heels and NU is in position to take a lead into halftime, NU commits 2 turnovers and lets Stanford hit a three at the buzzer. So much for maintaining momentum.
    In the final minutes of the second half, NU displayed its usual flair for missed free throws, turnovers, and missed shots. So much for winning at home.
    Carmody’s kids have shown over the years a tendency to come out flat. He can’t inspire the type of kids he recruits to play hard and with poise and he can’t recruit the type of kids who can inspire teammates to play hard and with poise.
    Sobo is praised for his gritty play but he played poorly vs. Stanford. The kid with the biggest heart on this year’s team, Hearns, is a walk-on, and the kid with the biggest heart in the Carmody era, Jitim Young, was not a Carmody recruit.
    How long can NU continue to keep doing the same thing over and over and yet expect a different result? When Carmody’s contract expires, it might be time to give someone else a chance.
    Gary Barnett showed us how important changing a team’s psychology is to changing a team’s win-loss record. Carmody is showing it, too, in his failure to get his kids to “expect victory.”
    It’s hard to have high hopes for this program right now.

    • Kat

      Chasmo –

      I hope you have the same feeling regarding Fitz – considering all the 4th quarter collapses and the bowl losses (at least BC’s teams have won in the postseason, not to mention having won a few early season tournaments).

      Really, what did you expect when the team is missing its 2 best players (Crawford, Cobb) and its most experience big (Cerina) – and to add to that, Hearn, the 3rd best player getting hurt in the 2nd half? (Not to mention a frosh, Lumpkin, who was expected to contribute, but is still trying to regain his stamina after his bout w/ mono).

      Think about it – despite all these losses (Crawford playing hurt and then opting to get surgery), the ‘Cats still beat 2 pretty good teams, Baylor & ISU, and were in it at the end against Butler and Stanford.

      If the ‘Cats had been healthy, the only loss this season would likely be to Maryland (w/ Cobb, Crawford and Cerina, the ‘Cats could have taken Butler).

      This season is basically for BC to see what the young guys can do and try to get the team to the NIT (tho that may prove very difficult if Hearn is out for any significant amount of time or if Cerina’s timetable to return gets longer).

      While small consolation for this season, the bright side is that the ‘Cats should have the deepest team that it has ever had in maybe forevever w/ Crawford, Cobb, Sobo, Olah, Cerina and Demps w/ SIna, Lumpkin and other being able to contribute as well (let’s just hope the injury bug skips the team next season).

      As for Marcotullio, it’s not surprising to see the old Marco back since his back has started to feel better.

      Marco was battling back spasms, the same thing that kept Jason Kidd sidelined for a bunch of Knick games (people were being too harsh on Marco for his play earlier in the season).

      Hopefully, Marco’s back will hold up for the rest of the season.

      • Chasmo

        Of course NU footballers share with their basketball brethren an inability to play with poise and confidence in big games as their failures down the stretch, not just this year but in past bowl games and big regular season games, surely proves. This is why so many NU fans see the Gator Bowl as a possible watershed moment when the footballer can finally “get the monkey off their backs” with a victory.
        Blaming NU’s basketball loss to Stanford on NU missing injured players would make sense if the Cardinal had blown the Cats out of McGaw Hall because you could make the case that a depleted NU side could not physically compete with Stanford. But that was not the case. NU had ample opportunity to beat Stanford but missed foul shots, missed open shots, and committed turnovers down the stretch to lose. That’s a question of mindset.
        Let’s hope for the best for our footballers but our hoopsters, I’m afraid, are a long way from playing hard and playing with confidence from the opening tap until the final buzzer.

  • MarkMedill88

    I absolutely HATE the term “moral victory,” but I couldn’t believe we came thisclose to beating Stanford. Granted, this isn’t one of the great Stanford teams of a couple years ago, but still, with all the NU injuries, I figure that when we were stuck on 12, this was a blowout. But what the Cats lacked in talent, they made up with in hustle and heart. Yeah, we made some immature plays down the stretch, but what do you expect from a team mostly of frosh and sophs. The lads also made some really heady plays, and for all the BTN smack-talk about how Stanford was attacking our 1-3-1 zone, I have to say, at least we weren’t passive on defense. Closing down ballhandlers, hands in faces, contesting rebounds. This is the most emotional and courageous Cats team I have seen show up all year. Losing sucks, but I can’t believe we had the ball in our hands with :10 to go and a chance to win it. Gutty effort by a bunch of guys who wouldn’t be on the scrub squad at Michigan or Indiana. If Carmody were any kind of a coach he’d mold these guys into a spoiler squad come B1G tourney time. Go Cats!

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Minnesota1000
Purdue1000
Iowa1000
Nebraska1000
Illinois1000
Northwestern0100
Wisconsin0100

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Rutgers1000
Penn State1000
Michigan1000
Michigan State1000
Ohio State1000
Indiana1000
Maryland1000