Man down: Swopshire, Olah injured as Wildcats fade
Northwestern has seen its fair share of injuries. JerShon Cobb (suspension), Drew Crawford (torn labrum), Reggie Hearn (sprained ankle), Sanjay Lumpkin (mononucleosis) and Nikola Cerina (sprained ankle) have all missed time for the Wildcats this year. Just about all of those players were expected to make major contributions this year.
Injuries are not an excuse. But they do not help much.
Northwestern had made its adjustments against Iowa. The first half was close and there was little space between the Wildcats and Hawkeyes. Alex Olah was able to tip out offensive rebounds and extend possessions as was Jared Swopshire. The Wildcats were not hitting 3-pointers, but played strong enough defense to make that not matter.
It seemed despite Iowa’s strong defense to keep Northwestern from getting many quality shots, NU was still in the game with a good chance to win it with some adjustments. Not saying the Wildcats would.
But the task got harder when Jared Swopshire went out with a knee injury — he spent most of the second half with an ice pack wrapped around his right knee. The task was made harder even still with Alex Olah out of the game after an inadvertent elbow to the head. Northwestern could only fight so much before Iowa eventually pulled away.
The Hawkeyes spent the second half slowly pushing their lead out and the Wildcats could not recover without these two key players in their lineup. This game perhaps could have been closer than the 71-55 margin for Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Above are statistics known as the Four Factors and are regarded as indicative contributors to wins and losses. Please see the end of this post for an explanation.
Perhaps with some of the air taken out of the building for the Wildcats, the Hawkeyes just picked apart the Wildcats’ defense with some pinpoint passing and hot shooting. Roy Devyn Marble got the game going with a dunk off of a turnover on his way to a 21-point effort, snapping out of his own cold snap. Melsah Basabe had eight points as Iowa put forward an extremely balanced effort.
The Wildcats kept the game as close as they could, but the Hawkeyes defense once again disrupted their offense. Northwestern shot only 33.9 percent from the floor. They made only 1 of 10 3-pointers in the first half and 6 for 25 for the game. NU was great on the offensive glass with 12 offensive rebounds, but could not finish the possessions as the team tried to control pace. It worked for only so long.
Eventually, Northwestern succumbed to turnovers with 11 for the game, including five from Reggie Hearn. Hearn still had 13 points and six rebounds, trying to carry the team without two starters.
Alex Olah had six points and four rebounds — all offensive — before leaving the game after playing only 10 minutes. Jared Swopshire scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes before he had to leave. Dave Sobolewski struggled in shooting 2 for 12 from the floor.
There were a lot of players who had to carry the load and could not. Give the Hawkeyes’ pressure defense the credit in smelling the blood with Olah and Swopshire out and attacking. They pressured and prodded, taking advantage of the physical play allowed on both ends. The Wildcats played well under the circumstances, they just could not execute or finish.
Eventually, Iowa was able to do those things in breaking NU down and converting off of turnovers.
Offensive Rating measures points scored per 100 possessions.
Effective field goal percentage measures field goal percentage taking into account the added value of a 3-point shot.
Offensive rebound percentage measures the percentage of offensive rebounds over total rebounds.
Turnover percentage estimates what percentage of a team’s possessions end in a turnover.
Free throw rate measures the rate of free throw attempts over field goal attempts.