Five Thoughts: Northwestern-UCLA

Some thoughts following Northwestern's convincing loss to UCLA.

— Next year's team will be mighty. Jershon Cobb finally looks like an excellent secondary scoring option. He's working the isolation game with more success and established a dynamic, unique midrange look. Part of his surprising efficiency can be credited to better effort from the three-point line. He's shooting more than 40 percent from behind the arc, which is helping to stretch opposing defenses. If he can facilitate better offensive looks, he'll be even more formidable for the rest of his Northwestern career. It's one of many promising signs for this promising team.

— Welcome, Kale Abrahamson. The sophomore learned to play with confidence, staking a valuable role on this team because of his shooting ability and effort. He's been increasingly active on both ends, and helped NU stay in the game early on with some key three-pointers. This group badly needs depth, and I'd like Kale to serve as an emotional spark in future season. He shouldn't be starting on any Big Ten team, really, but can contribute like he is right now. Overall, he's a quickly rising guy for Northwestern, and played well against UCLA.

— Where are you, Nikola Cerina? It's honestly pretty unbelievable that the Wildcats can put a team on the floor given some of their limitations (namely, they give one big man consistent minutes). If he's not injured, it might be interesting to know how Cerina landed so deeply in another coach's doghouse. He's okay defensively – and bad on offense – but could conceivably have filled a niche for this team. Instead, it's just Olah and an odd assortment of guys guarding bigger opponents. Chris Collins needs to use his available scholarship this offseason, badly.

— I'm a huge fan of Sanjay Lumpkin. I think that his rebounding and defense are two of the most valuable things that this team has in the long term. But he's got to cut down on the freshman antics. He was called for yet another intentional foul against UCLA — a borderline call that made sense. He needs to restrain his physicality in some ways, and play more intelligent defense. If the foul troubles continue, he'll put the ownership on his teammates to recover. Otherwise, I'm liking his offensive improvement and court awareness. The guy's still pretty darn good.

— Things I liked from the UCLA game: The fight in spite of UCLA's ridiculous shooting effort was excellent. I thought Tre Demps continued to be all right and nothing more — which is more than I could say last season. Alex Olah's aggressive and deliberate post moves are also reflective of Collins and Armon Gates' intense coaching. Things I didn't like: Lack of depth continues to kill the team. There were far too many defensive breakdowns under the basket. Dave Sobolewski needs to better understand how to maximize the team's offensive rhythm, however vague that sounds. Still, it's hard to judge the team for its play without Drew Crawford.


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