Breathe, people. With the (unsurprising) news of NU football’s decision not to make any staff changes and Northwestern men’s basketball sputtering to a 13 point loss against Central Michigan, there is more than enough anger to go around Evanston. I suggest taking a deep breath, making a really nice meal, and maybe taking up meditation, because things might get worse before they get better. In a few hours, Northwestern (6-4) will welcome in the Broncos of Western Michigan (6-3). Northwestern’s week has been a mixed bag. They smoked Mississippi Valley State to the tune of 101-49 in a game where even Nate Taphorn finished with 15+ points. But a cursory look at MVSU shows that they’re not only the worst team NU will play, but anyone will play. MVSU checks in at 348 in the KenPom rankings, good for fourth worst in the country. Northwestern then got beaten handily by a Central Michigan that is the 6th best basketball team in Michigan according to KenPom, and didn’t look good losing. Guard play buried Northwestern. Tre Demps and Bryant McIntosh combined to go 9/31 from the field and 1-9 from three. Olah scored 12 and grabbed 5 but was limited to 27 minutes thanks to defensive lapses. Lots of work for Collins and Company to improve after that last performance.
Western Michigan (6-3) was supposed to be a little bit better than they’ve been performing thus far. Their three losses, against San Diego, Northeastern, and Long Beach State aren’t awful as all teams rank in the top 110 in KenPom, but for a team picked to challenge for the MAC West title, they probably feel they should’ve grabbed at least one more of those challenging games. WMU straight scores the rock. They’re shooting 49.6% from the floor and 41.6% from three. Their starting lineup includes 4 players averaging over 13 points a game. They bring some decent height for a MAC team as well, something NU hasn’t had to deal with a lot this year. WMU will be a good challenge for the Wildcats. This was supposed to be the dark horse Directional Michigan that NU would need to be up for to beat, but after the Central Michigan performance, WMU won’t, or at least shouldn’t, be creeping up on Northwestern.
PROJECTED STARTING 5s
G: Austin Richie (13.8 ppg, 2.6 apg)
G: David Brown (13.4 ppg, 3.3 apg)
F: Connar Tava (16.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
F: Tucker Haymond (13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
C: Drake LaMont (4.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
PG: Bryant McIntosh (10.0 ppg, 4.9 apg)
SG: Tre Demps (10.3 ppg, 27.7% 3FG)
SF: Vic Law (8.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
PF: Sanjay Lumpkin (7.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
C: Alex Olah (11.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
Tre Demps Needs Less Than 10 Field Goal Attempts
Demps’s struggles this year have been well documented. He’s shot the ball 12 times more than anyone else on the team and has attempted 13 more threes than anyone else. That would be well and good if he wasn’t shooting 34.5% from the floor and 27.7% from three. To make matters worse, he’s just 12/23 at the foul line this year. Those are abysmal numbers. He needs to let the game come to him, attack the basket to get himself going, and take the shots that are there for him. Maybe a pipe dream…
Sanjay Lumpkin Needs To Be In Attack Mode
Lumpkin looked great offensively early in the year against Brown, North Florida, and even Elon, but ever since the Cancun Challenge, he’s disappeared on offense. His shot doesn’t look pretty, but he’s shooting a decent clip, and if he can score 8, the defense will at least have to respect him, opening up everyone else.
Mind Your P’s and R’s
That is pick and rolls. NU looked terrible covering the pick and pop as well as stopping dribble penetration last time out. Demps and McIntosh have both looked shaky in on-ball situations. It’s hard to ask players to suddenly become lock down defenders, but they need to tighten up somehow. Otherwise, WMU is going to feast off easy baskets.