Five Thoughts: Northwestern-IUPUI

Some thoughts after Northwestern's sloppy 63-61 win against IUPUI.

Alex Olah: good versus evil. The sophomore center showed flashes of what makes him such an intriguing player, including an impressive second-half sequence. He reached for rebounds, finished on the inside and delivered some impressive fist pumps. He's a heart-on-sleeve, serious player with immense potential. Too often, though, he wilts on the interior. He struggled in a one-on-one battle with IUPUI forward Mitch Patton — who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. He's still a developmental project, but it'll need to flourish sooner rather than later. Also, Nikola Cerina played only seven minutes, which seems like your standard "doghouse" material.

Kale Abrahamson provided the team with 11 more solid minutes on Friday night. He knocked down both of his shot attempts, including an impressive and-one that appeared to shed his "stand-still shooter" label. He was productively aggressive, picking up three fouls in his short time – with one questionable call – but earned more respect in the process. Collins also saw improvements from Nate Taphorn, who attempted six shots in eight minutes. That's a sign of maturation for Taphorn, who seemed altogether passive in the season's first four games.

— Dave Sobolewski continued his wildly inconsistent play. The team's lone point guard made just two of his 11 shots and had only a pair of assists. If Sobolewski can't run the offense with success on a regular basis, he might watch his minutes decline. Thankfully, he played some rare productive defense in NU's focused zone that turned the game. Collins added after the game: "We're just trying to find who's playing well on a given night." The unit worked; the individual pieces didn't. Sobolewski did, however, knock down all five of his free throws — the proverbial step in the right direction.

— As Cobb admitted following the win, he and Drew Crawford can't disappear like that. I thought Cobb was mediocre and sluggish for most of the night, though he redeemed himself with an elusive make in the waning seconds. It was an extremely inefficient night from him, and his defense wasn't quite to his usual standard. Cobb finished with eight points on 4-of-13 shooting, and contributed precious little in terms of rebounding. These offensive droughts will end up being Northwestern's downfall, it seems. This one almost led to another egregious loss.

— Things I like: Sanjay Lumpkin's basketball IQ, which led to easy baskets and more stellar defense. Tre Demps looks increasingly more comfortable playing alongside teammates. I also appreciate Sobolewski rediscovering his aggressiveness. Things I don't like: the aforementioned Cerina "doghouse," or at least that's assumed. I still don't understand how NU can let Drew Crawford go scoreless in an entire half of basketball. They also could've done much more in transition — something reminiscent of Wednesday's actually inspired win.


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