Halftime Thoughts: NU-Illinois State

Some scattered thoughts from an awful half of Northwestern basketball.

The foul rules are unavoidable. The Wildcats–all Northwestern students–are not adjusting to them. Alex Olah committed three ridiculous fouls in seven minutes, stranding true power forward Nikola Cerina alone on the interior. The result? Illinois State began to work the inside, generate high percentage shots and take complete advantage of NU's lack of depth.

So when will Dave Sobolewski show up this season? Five games? Ten? The junior point guard, with all of his experience, cannot facilitate a fairly basic, low-tempo motion-style offense. He's not creating shots for anyone–much less himself–and can't even post the gaudy assist numbers of old. He looks uncomfortable facing pressure and, of course, whenever he has to guard someone.

This team needs to find someone aside from Drew Crawford who can score. Nate Taphorn looks freshman-like and passive; Jershon Cobb made some nice moves but might not be the ideal secondary option. They're overall tentative on offense, entirely content to take low-percentage midrange jumpers and rely on their defensive ability. When the latter falls apart, you see garbage like this.

With just more than two minutes remaining in the first half, NU had another of its many transition lapses. Zach Lofton knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing with Sanjay Lumpkin trailing. That gave Illinois State a ridiculous 36-19 lead. This is the most inexperienced team in the NCAA, yet they played with greater maturity than NU. Disaster game.

I don't care about Stanford. I don't care about how long Friday's flight was. You can't play like this and expect anyone, much less students, to watch in the first year. They're well coached. We know that. And nothing that happens this year will make my faith in the program evaporate; it really doesn't matter. But seriously, this was a pathetic first half from Northwestern — and hardly enough words to describe it.


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