They landed in Chicago, traveled to Welsh-Ryan Arena and immediately began practicing. Talk to anyone around the program: They believe Stanford would've been a different game in two months time.
"Our guys' attitudes are great," Chris Collins said in an interview with PurpleWildcats.com on Friday. "You talk to them: Everyone's all in. There are no attitude problems. They all want to win, and they're all engaged in what we're doing."
Collins attributed much of the loss to inexperience, which made sense. The Wildcats struggled to receive offensive contribution from players other than Jershon Cobb and Drew Crawford — shooting just 33 percent in the second half.
"The thing I'd like to see us do it get some easier points," Collins said. "By that, I mean layups and free throws … That's just a mindset, and it's something we have to continue to work on."
And how can they do that?
"We've got to find a way to get Alex [Olah] to 10, 12 points a game. He's been a little hamstrung by foul problems. That's hurt his ability to get a rhythm on the court."
Sunday's opponent, Illinois State, began its rebuilding season with losses to VCU and Drexel. The Redbirds are replacing Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown, with Bryant Allen dismissed from the team for violating team rules.
"It's nice to get better and show improvement," Collins said. "At the end of the day, we've got to win. We've got to move on from [Thursday] night. Illinois State is a talented team. They're young but they're talented."
For NU, effort certainly means something, but the results mean more.
Barring cancellation due to weather, Northwestern takes on Illinois State at Welsh-Ryan Arena tonight at 7:30.