His scoring average has dropped from 15.9 to 15.3. His rebounding average has dipped from 5.4 to 4.7. All of his shooting percentages are slightly worse than last season.
But when the all-Big Ten teams are revealed, don't be surprised if the slender 6-foot-8 forward goes from an honorable mention pick to a first- or second-team selection. Coble's expanded repertoire — and we're not just talking about his array of tricky shots that might have been handed down from Larry Bird — has been a big reason why the Wildcats have gone from 8-22 and 1-17 to 17-12 and 8-10 heading into this week's Big Ten tournament.
Northwestern settled for the No. 9 seed and faces Minnesota on Thursday with league champ Michigan State looming in Friday's quarterfinal.
Blessed with more talent around him at both ends of the floor, Coble hands out 1 more assist per game this season and also owns more blocks and steals.
Of course, he also retains the ability to take over offensively when necessary. Remember when the Wildcats won at No. 7 Michigan State on Jan. 21? Coble poured in a season-high 31 points as the Spartans couldn't handle him.
It's victories like those — and veteran forces like Coble and senior guard Craig Moore — that have the Wildcats believing they should belong in the NCAA Tournament conversation.
"I think we feel that we are," Coble said in the Daily Herald after NU won at Purdue on March 4. "I think you see glimpses of us. If you could take that glimpse and make that a consistent thing where it's night-in and night-out, then I don't think there's any question. It's just a matter of us continuing to get better...it's going to be really important that we're just focused on each game."
Northwestern's spot on the bubble became more slippery with Sunday's 52-47 loss at Ohio State. The Wildcats rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit and held several brief second-half lead, but they scored just 2 points in the final 3:38.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual starters — PG Michael Thompson, SG Craig Moore, SF Kevin Coble, PF John Shurna, C Kyle Rowley. Key Subs — G Jeremy Nash, C Luka Mirkovic, G Jeff Ryan, G Sterling Williams, F Ivan Peljusic.
IN FOCUS: The Wildcats split their regular-season series with the Gophers. After earning a 74-65 home win on Jan. 18 that just might have turned their season around, they suffered a 72-45 whipping on Feb. 22 at Williams Arena. NU had a few players under the weather for the latter game, but the simple fact is the Wildcats can't afford another 30 percent shooting effort. Senior guard Craig Moore seemed so lackluster, Bill Carmody put him on the bench early in the second half and left him there for the duration.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That was big, but this was a little bit more validation for us. It wasn't just a fluke. Any team can beat anybody any night, but we've put together some nice wins this year and we're playing some good basketball and I think we're on a good trajectory." — Northwestern forward Kevin Coble comparing the Wildcats' March 4 win at Purdue favorably with their Jan. 21 win at Michigan State.
Northwestern 55, Iowa 49
Northwestern 64, Purdue 61
Ohio State 52, Northwestern 47
vs. Minnesota, Thursday, March 12 (Big Ten tournament first round)