Wisconsin vs Northwestern Wrap Up

Ugh. Ugggh. UGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH. This was not how my winter quarter was supposed to start. Sure I wasn’t expecting to beat Wisconsin, or even to keep it close, but I wanted positives. I came away with positive (singular) and that is that Taphorn is a very good bench player who can do a lot of things for Northwestern. That is the only positive from this one. Wisconsin ran away, hid, camped out for the winter, then continued running away. By the time it had ended, Wisconsin had won 81-58. Whole lot of bad for Northwestern.

The offense is in a very dark place. I would wager that 5-10% of NU possessions involved less than 3 passes. That number should be about 0% on a team that executes. Tre Demps can score, and he did score, shooting 50% from the floor again on his way to 17 points. That’s fine, he can take more than 15 if he wants to. The issue is when those 14 shots came from. A stepback jumper 8 seconds into the shot clock is not good offense, even when it works. It’s just ot a long term success plan. Vic Law ended up going 1-7 from the floor. Law’s offensive game right now does not include a consistent jumper. Again, that’s fine. As an offense, though, you have to make sure he’s getting catches where he can then put it on the deck and get to the rim or the foul line. Alex Olah was stifled by Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes, which shouldn’t have surprised anyone. It was a bad offensive night both from the players and the coaches.

Defensively wasn’t any better, which may be more or less concerning depending on your point of view. On one hand, this was supposed to be the best part of Northwestern’s team. NU has Sanjay Lumpkin, a good defender, and with Vic Law and other athletes coming in, the defense was supposed to get better. The fact that the defense is becoming the major problem for this team is troubling. It should be noted that Wisconsin went ballistic from three, but so many times slow rotation or just straight losing guys on the defensive end killed Northwestern, and those mistakes are inexcusable. The positive spin is that this coaching staff has proven that it can coach a solid defensive unit, just look at last year. Maybe NU can circle the wagons and get that end of the court figured out. Wildcat fans should have more confidence in doing that then developing a consistent offense, which has never been displayed by the team under this coaching staff.

It’s easy to overreact when a team gets slaughtered by a truly elite program. But, to be perfectly honest, if Northwestern played like this against Penn State, NU would still have lost by 10, easy. The bad news for Northwestern is that the Big Ten will not provide any respite now that Rutgers is off the schedule. NU’s next test is on the road against Michigan State. Not exactly a textbook game to pick up the confidence. The laundry list of things to fix for Chris Collins is very long. If the Wildcats have any hope of post season play this year, they’re going to need to be fixed by yesterday.

  • King Bucky

    Not much progress to date for the program…or am I missing something? Law shows far less than hype would indicate. Where’s the discipline?

    • Pittsburgh Wildcat

      Law has great natural athleticism, and obviously is struggling right now, and our losses so far are to teams ranked 8, 12, 22 and 27 in the national RPI (according to espn.com), so those are not a big deal when you’re playing almost all freshmen and sophomores.

      I honestly think we’ll get a better read on the team over the next 3 games vs. MSU, Ill and Mich. Those are 3 potentially winnable games, even though 2 are on the road.

      • H George

        Who cares if the teams are ranked in the top 5 or bottom 5? A loss is a loss. This teams shooting percentages are too low. And they barely beat North Florida earlier in the season.

        I realize that Chris Collins had to start from scratch to rebuild the team, and I get that. But please save the “Silver lining” analysis on everything. I can get that by watching Strawberry Shortcake cartoons with my niece.

        • Pittsburgh Wildcat

          Easy now. No need to sling attacks.

          I’m pretty sure the only silver lining I’ve pointed out is that we shouldn’t judge everything based on tonight’s game. Getting outclassed by the 4th ranked team in the country does not mean the sky is falling on the season.

          Remember, the question posed by King Bucky was related to the program’s progress, so I would disagree from that specific standpoint that “a loss is a loss.”

          I agree with you that our shooting percentages are too low. Taking FG% as the stat, we shot .401 as a team in Carmody’s final year and .396 a year ago — and are shooting .426 this year. Is it good? No. But are we shooting better this year with a more inexperienced team? Yes.

          So again, if the question is related to progress, my answer is there is measurable progress right now.

          And yes, at some point that statistical progress has to translate into wins. But having seen a lot of NU basketball dating back to the Bill Foster era, I personally like where we’re headed.

          • CatsNipped

            The Cats having a higher team field goal percentage than Carmody’s final season is nothing to brag about. After all it was the season that got him fired after a majority of the best players on the team missed most of the Big Ten season due to injuries etc …

          • H George

            Hey, I was very vocal about Carmody needing to go, and he was a terrible recruiter. While I like Collins, he’s got to get this team north of 50% before we even begin to become a force to be reckoned with. The frustration about last night was seeing all of the balls that missed the rim, bounced off the rim, or just didn’t go in. NU came away empty so many times when they had the ball in their side of the court, while WI kept sinking 3 pointers and finding ways to score.

            the other thing I noticed about this team is that they are slow to start the game and usually have many missed shots before they finally score. Even some of those easy non-conference wins we started out 8 to 10 points down before we started turning on the scoring. You can’t do that in-conference.

          • gocatsgo2003

            So your frustration is that we didn’t make as many shots as the other team? Isn’t that basically “basketball”?

            It’s not all that surprising that a very young team will take some time to settle into a game. We can just hope that they improve as the year goes on.

          • H George

            um, yea! especially when the shooting percentage is 37%. that means that 2 out of every 3 shots were missed. I’ll give you that this team is young and rebuilding. But missing 2 out of every 3 shots may be “basically basketball” but it’s sometimes difficult to watch, especially when your opponent is shooting over 55% in the same game.

          • gocatsgo2003

            My point is that I don’t think it’s surprising that a legitimate national title contender (who KenPom has at #2 for adjusted offense and #17 for adjusted defense) gave us trouble on both ends of the floor. To expect Collins to come in and magically have us consistently competing at that level is a bit much.

          • can’t compare last year to this year. Compare nonconference last year to this year so far. Otherwise wait until much of the B1G has been played.

  • Pittsburgh Wildcat

    Was tonight a good performance? Obviously not, but I also think we shouldn’t overreact to a night where we get outclassed by the 4th ranked team in the country. Wisconsin is going to do that to a few other B1G teams over the next 2 months, too.

    I’d also respectfully disagree defense is becoming a major problem. Wait and see what happens the next 3 games vs. unranked teams (where we could pick up a win) and see if this was just a case of a single game issue by an elite opponent.

  • King Bucky

    CC’s sideline demeanor reminds me of Bo Pelini, with more hair & less hat.

    • Purple Haze

      UW shot the ball well from three. NU’s freshmen PG could not get the ball into Olah. He had at least 4 TOs in the first half.

      Bottom line is that UW is a national title contender but will be no match for UK, Louisville, Duke, Texas, Arizona who are Sweet 16 teams who got much better with additions of freshmen. UW stayed the same and will have a good regular season record but could easily get bounced in tourney where I don’t believe a regional is in Milwaukee, WI like last year. I believe that Maryland is a sleeper team that might give UW a battle for the Big 10 regular season crown. So enjoy your night King Bucky, to be cocky. But you will not be cutting down the nets in April.

      • King Bucky

        Not trying to be “cocky”. I never mentioned the Badgers’ play at all. Point is, the Cats don’t seem to have much direction right now. Shooting percentages were alluded to in earlier posts. Generally, high shooting percentages result from taking high percentage shots, which results from passing until someone has a GOOD look. The Cats don’t do that often enough. It’s as if they were playing with a 20 second shot clock. Patience & precision, please!

  • H George

    I left with about 7 minutes left on the game clock and NU down by 24 points. At that point, NU was shooting 37% on FGs and was 2/10 in 3-pointers. Whereas, WI was over 50% in both of those categories. That sort of says it all! You don’t win big games with those percentages!
    Olah was way off tonight in his shooting. We have some promising freshman, but this team is still far away from being a contender in the Big Ten. But they can play spoiler, like they did last year.

  • 70alum

    When was the last time the Wildcats beat a Bo Ryan coached team?

    • Seriously, bro?

      Less than a year ago.

  • nucats96

    “The fact that the defense is becoming the major problem for this team is troubling.”
    PRR wrote a post 2 days eariler talking about defensive identity and how our defense is pretty good
    You guys should get your stories straight, otherwise it looks a bit like amateur hour.

  • Throwback Cat

    Was it just me, or did others observe Wisconsin players wiping their sweat away with purple towels on Sunday! Tacky if accidental, unsportsmanlike if deliberate! I will be watching them closely at their away games to see if this is a pattern.