Stall Ball Works For Awhile, Poor Rebounding Does In ‘Cats 69-51

Sigh. We’ll be writing for the next two months about various ways Northwestern will lose B1G games. This one raised an eyebrow. Let’s face it, few folks gave a injury-depleted NU team a prayer against the high flying ninth-ranked team in the nation in their quirky gym.  Yet, there was NU going old school Carmody and playing in to the stereotypes of the Princeton offense (low scoring, stall ball) that we’ve worked so hard to try and overcome. The ‘Cats completely dominated the tempo of the first half and found themselves down just three points, a whopping 17-14, at the half as a result. However, Minnesota was unable to convert on second chance points, despite owning the glass, as that Achilles heel of Carmody’s program, complete inept rebounding, would come back to haunt them.

This one had you sit up in your seat for ahwile anyway. Northwestern took the air out of the ball in the first half and seemed just as awkward as everyone else witnessing the stall ball as David Sobolewski rarely got going with more than :10 on the shot clock. The problem was Northwestern was then in desperation mode and so out of sorts having not played much this way under Carmody that ultimately the strategy would backfire. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Minnesota had 21 offensive rebounds, besting NU’s ENTIRE rebounding total (20), which is up there in terms of embarassing stats. However, it really was a lack of communication and complete and utter assignment and switching breakdowns that cost NU in this one. The ‘Cats somehow lost sight of where Gopher sharp-shooter, Austin Hollins was, which was amazing as everyone in the stands was eyeing him with full attention. Hollins went off midway through the second half hitting five, yes FIVE, straight three pointers, yet NU couldn’t seem to find him coming up the floor. It was phenomenal shooting and abysmal defense all rolled in to one.  By the time he hit his third straight three, it felt like we were down four touchdowns in this possession oriented game. Northwestern opened the game shooting a miserable 5-of-18 in the first half and that was after scoring a few early.  It was that kind of night.

Northwestern (9-6,0-2) did have Reggie Hearn back, which was great, and the warrior was out there hobbling around, but still making his presence felt as NU’s leading scorer (11 points), yet he was far from the pre ankle injury vs Stanford Reggie. It’s a start to have him back on the floor and we’ll need him. NU big man Alex Olah seems to be stuck in neutral as he’s not improving his low post moves and was at times intimidated against the fierce swat blocking bigs of Minnesota. Our fearless leader David Sobolewski was getting jumped by the Minnesota bigs in nasty traps late in the shot clock as Tubby Smith wisely tried to cut the head of our offense off. Until other guys like Jared Swopshire realize they’ll have to step up bigtime for us to have a shot, we’re going to continue to get pounded.

This plain was not fun to watch. It was quite ugly actually. Once Minnesota staked out a double-digit lead, they smelled blood and just put on a clinic on how to take transition misses and attack, attack, attack. The Gophers would split defenders and put on a dunkfest as our guys seemed confused on how to step up and attempt to take a charge. Perhaps the life had already been sucked out of us, but the second half sure lacked a lot of heart on the side of the purple.

Northwestern ventures to Penn State on Thursday night for a legit shot at one of their few potential conference wins this season. With a brutal front loaded schedule, this team could sure use it.

  • PastorCat

    I was at the game…I think the whole crowd nearly fell asleep in the first half. I’ve never seen such apathy. I knew it couldn’t last and the floodgates finally opened. I just reminded the buddy who got me tickets (a Gopher fan) that we won our bowl game…and they didn’t! I’ll take what I can.

  • Icehockeycat

    Will be a long season – just hope the young guys develop and will be watching more their development than the W-L. Next game will go a long way to see if we will win more than 1-2 B1G this year

  • zeek

    Going to be a very tough year for us on the court this year. Have to treat this as a rebuilding year despite the preseason optimism.

    • ctya

      Wait, there was preseason optimism? Why?

  • Chasmo

    What’s so sad about watching this version of the Cats — aside from having to re-adjust to watching a bad team again after four years of watching pretty good teams — is the fact that they don’t play hard.
    When Indiana really stunk when Tom Crean first took over, the Hoosiers didn’t win many games but his kids really played hard from start to finish. These Cats, however, are not high energy or scrappy at all on defense and they aren’t cutting hard on offense. When a shot goes up, they stand around and watch the opponent go get the ball. It’s sad.
    NU’s kids are as laid back as their coach and when a team is without much talent as this NU team is right now, playing hard is about all they can do and right not they are not even doing that.

  • Vacat

    Everyone is forgetting.
    This coach has been here 13 years and here is where we are at. Ridiculous. And don’t tell me a great academic school can’t have a great bball team.

    Only now I lay this at Carmidy’s feet, the NU administration and the board if trustees. Up and down they are all guilty for not improving crap men’s and woman’s basketball programs.

    I, for one, LTP, would like to see you do an interview with JP to address the basketball program and what specific, different things will be done in the future so we can compete for Big Ten championships.

    It’s time more open dialogue about this from the NU administration with alums and fans.

    • I think Phillips has given Carmody his last season. Times r changing, facilities r improving, and why not let the new coach/RECRUITER benefit from what looks like a fairly talented (by NU stds) team next year?

    • Hank

      I emailed Phillips in January 2011 to express my displeasure when Carmody’s contract was extended. I essentially wanted to know why we would continue to employ a sub-.500 coach who is perpetually in “building” mode.

      In the reply I received there was one line of note:

      “In the end, though winning is critically important, running a program –
      academics, compliance with NCAA rules, etc. all play a role in the
      evaluation of a program.”

      I understand that running a basketball program is complicated, but to me, that doesn’t sound like someone who’s really interested in even pursuing a winning record. However, I’ll say that Carmody must be REALLY good at the other stuff to stick around for this long.

  • dolphin146

    Ask the NU administration how compete for Big Ten men’s basketball championships? Might as well ask a squirrel about thermonuclear physics — they’d have an equal clue. NU has no idea. Never has. No coach hired at NU since 1970’s has come close to the traditional definition (i,.e., not that of NU fans) of “successful”. I have no answers to change the decades of futility except to lower standards for basketball recruits (which I am completely against though it would likely work). But I suspect no one else has any answers either. Certainly not Jim Phillips. If he did, he’ d whacked Carmody long ago. Carmody’s presence is proof of NU’s utter lack of ideas about how to fix its men’s basketball program.

  • dolphin146

    By the way, unlike LtP, I have no problem with stall ball and low-scoring games if NU wins them. Style is irrelevant — what’s exciting is winning and what matters is wins. Princeton won an awful lot of 43-38 games under Carrill and Carmody, and still does. Certainly that seems a lot more fun than 35-point losses at home. An “exciting” style that loses by 20-30 points regularly is exciting only to NU opponents.

  • Alum Dad

    All of the preseason optimism is gone and we are only two games into the B1G season. Injuries are a big issue, but the guys that are playing look to be severely over-matched. Bill Carmody has received a free pass for way too long. Nothing is going to change as long as Carmody remains on the bench. How can any talented high school player watch NU’s basketball games and think, wow, I want to go there? NU is once again the joke of B1G basketball.

  • Thankfully, BTN aired the Gator Bowl after the game to get the taste of this out of our mouths. That first half took basketball back to the stone ages.

  • Jim

    Sigh…only 237 days until Kickoff.

  • Older Cat

    When I left WR after the Cats edged Wheaton College 41-39 during Carmody’s seventh season, I knew a successful program was a long way off. It was the worst college basketball game ever played or coached.

  • Pittsburgh Wildcat

    Here’s my problem: we are still not a point as a program where we can find a way to compete (and, gasp, succeed) despite losing just 1 all-conference player unexpectedly. Where is any of that supposed roster depth built upon recruiting from 4 straight postseasons, a couple of which could have been that magical NCAA berth?

    Yes, we’re without Crawford for the rest of the season, but come on. We look like a bad mid-major right now. And I frankly don’t count Cobb in the missing mix since (a) it’s not like he was anywhere near all-conference and (b) replacing 7 ppg in scoring should not be that hard.

    I don’t see the program stronger now. And now that the top half of the conference is once again so collectively dominant, that pretty much leaves us once again battling Nebraska and PSU in that 10/11/12th place range. And that’ll drop 2 more spots once Maryland and Rutgers start playing.

    It’s not hard to find coaches who can have us in the bottom 2 of the 3 of the league.

  • Frustrated

    Even with the slow down/stall game we were terrible. We got no backdoors and no one wants to shoot and when they do they cant hit anything. It wasn’t as much a stall offense as just really bad offense by both teams. Nothing was stopping Minnesota from doing what they did in the second half in the first. They sucked too. Swopshire doesn’t fit in the offense at all because he can’t shoot, Alex sucks, Demps might get better but is a little lost within the offense and is best when he just runs around and shoots, Turner is a waste of a player, Olah is a baby, Kale is on mars not on planet earth especially on defense, did I miss anyone? Reggie and Sobo are the only guys who belong on the floor within the princeton offense, and sobo needs to shoot more.

  • bandcat

    How many times did we fail to box out last nite when the GopHers were shooting one and ones? Yikes…. more painkillers… NOW!

  • FrankJ

    I ahve advocated for the last six years that Bill Comedy’s tenure as head NU basketball coach be summarily terminated. Here are my reasons:
    1. He’s an idealogue married to a system that arguably in the short term allows that Cats to compete with other Big Ten basketball teams with substantailly more talent in both the short and long terms leads to silly situational play in time critical components of game e.g. the end of last year’s Indiana game in Bloomington, places a limit on recruiting as Comedy must recruit for his system not to match the talent level of the league his team competes in;
    2. I don’t care how brilliant a basketball mind he is, how respected his judgment is, the name of the game is recruiting. Unlike football, which requires convincing 25 talented football players a year to come to NU which had a deplorable losing history like basketball, Comedy needs one star; he has yet to recruit such a star;
    3. No coach should have 12 years on a job and be unable to meet the modest goal of going to one NCAA tournament.
    I’ve heard all the excuses from the gym, to the facilities, to the uniforms, to the history. All excuses, the football program has produced a bowl winner and 5 consecutive bowl appearances in one of the best conferences in the country. Gues what: bad history, bad facilities, arguably bad uniforms as a matter of opinion. The difference si the coach. Fitzgerald relates to his players, is an excellent recruiter and loves NU which transmits loud and clear with his marketing pitch. Bottom line: 17 years old want to play for a leader who believes in his program. Comedy is no leader and simply sells his system for cutting passing etc. The time has come to give Comedy the boot!!.

  • Nubobby95

    Can anyone explain why JerShon Cobb was suspended an entire season and not just a quarter until his grade improved?