Five Thoughts: Northwestern-DePaul

Some reflection following a nightmare loss for Northwestern.

— This was fuel – if not confirmation – for every Alex Olah skeptic. Really, against any capable center, he struggles. Yesterday, Sandi Marcius exposed Olah again, with Northwestern's only center going scoreless and fouling out. Chris Collins lauded the sophomore this offseason for his improvement; none of it actually translated to game time. The Wildcats still lack any sort of consistent post presence, which contributes to the growing thought that they might go winless during conference play. Worse, his backup Nikola Cerina is stranded on the bench for whatever reason.

— Dave Sobolewski made NU's most important shot of the young season, yet still played miserably. I'm not overly worried by his 24-game stretch of horrible shooting. That might turn around – or at least level out somewhere above 20 percent. The problem is that even when those shots eventually fall, he's absolutely helpless in this offense. I likened him to a "fish out of water," and that's being generous. Yesterday, he turned the ball over five times and had no ability to break an average press, at best. Throw in his defense – worst on the team – and you have someone who doesn't deserve any significant minutes.

— It's funny to think that Tre Demps might be Collins' best long-term asset. He'll be a very strong sixth man for the next three seasons, as evidenced by his natural talent and aggressive offensive mindset. If Northwestern pulled out the victory, the story would have been Demps, who almost singlehandedly willed them to victory. The redshirt sophomore scored 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting while creating smart shots for he and his teammates. His 34 minutes seemed about right, and hell, good for him. His growth has really been something, and he's perhaps the biggest beneficiary of this coaching switch.

— It's honestly ridiculous that Kale Abrahamson only played six minutes last night. Absolutely ridiculous. If the coaching staff wants to force him out of the regular rotation, they may as well consider the fact that he's been playing much better than the majority of guys out there. Until that happens, and until he's starting to struggle, you have to give him some deserved minutes. As for his season numbers: 42 percent shooting, 38 percent three-point shooting. It sounds minor, but on a bad team, you're sorry to see him sitting out.

— What I like: Drew Crawford continuing to fight (especially with my suspicion of lingering injury), Collins' frequent switches to zone and the contributions of his assistant coaches, the Dec. 27 attendance at Welsh-Ryan Arena and the 12 merciful minutes Dave Sobolewski didn't play. What I don't like: The fact that Northwestern has no successful big men on the current roster, watching Jershon Cobb suffer another setback, Nate Taphorn's surprisingly bad defense, Sanjay Lumpkin continuing to disappear despite playing 34 minutes.


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