Talking a little about Sobolewski
In the immediate aftermath of all the injuries that have befallen Northwestern, the one constant has been Dave Sobolewski.
Sobolewski is the team’s point guard, one of its hardest workers and probably one of the foundational players for this Northwestern team. Much like NU needed a great effort from Jared Swopshire almost every night to compete, NU needs consistent play from Sobolewski almost every night to compete. That goes double now with all the injuries.
Sobolewski though is just a sophomore. He is prone to the same ups and downs any young player would be. There will be nights where he is brilliant — such as his 21-point game against Butler — and there will be nights when he struggles — like his 0-point, 0-assist game against Illinois on Sunday.
More likely than not, Sunday’s game was a strange aberration for Sobolewski. He is averaging 10.5 points and 4.0 assists per game this year while shooting 40.9 percent from the floor. To be sure though, Northwestern does better when Sobolewski plays well. In the 11 games, Sobolewski has scored fewer than 10 points, the Wildcats are 4-6. The key to the four victories in those games were his assists as he averaged 5.5 assists per game.
If Sobolewski is going to have a bad scoring game, he has to be contributing in other ways. Namely with his ball handling, dribble penetration and passing ability. This is where Sobolewski struggled (among all the players who struggled) in the loss to Illinois.
Sobolewski has had his fare of struggles throughout his short career. He is shooting 57.9 percent from the line this year after shooting 73.5 percent from the line last year. Shooting below 60 percent is unfathomable for a point guard. He also has the ghosts of disappearing from big games — like last year’s Big Ten Tournament loss to Minnesota that likely kept NU out of the NCAA Tournament, as Nicholas Medline of Scout writes.
He has already established himself as a team leader and that has become even more important with the young roster. It takes more than just words though with the team that Northwestern is fielding on the court. Now more than ever, Northwestern needs strong play from Sobolewski. They need his statistical output to match his emotional output.
It is hard to ask more from this guy. He is already playing 35.2 minutes per game and there are not many other point guards on the roster. Sobolewski has borne a good portion of this burden. That is a lot to ask.
Northwestern though has to ask more from Sobolewski. If the Wildcats are going to compete and steal a few games down the stretch — not to mention grow and develop some of the young talent on the roster that will become important next year — Sobolewski will be the key. It is no longer whether Swopshire has a good game or not, it is whether or not Sobolewski plays well. And he has to for Northwestern to win.