Five Thoughts: Northwestern-Iowa

Michael Hlebasko comments on Northwestern's blowout loss at Iowa.

— The team is getting harder to watch, and harder to defend. We knew they weren't very good, but we didn't know they were going to be this not good. They aren't just bad, although they are bad at almost everything, it's that there doesn't seem to be anything that they are legitimately good at, at least not at the Big Ten level. A positive I had noted, their three-point defense, had started off decently in conference play but surrendered 8-14 shooting from beyond the arc to Iowa. This team has largely been bereft of bright spots.

— Thirteen turnovers, four assists. No assists in the first half. 22 assists on 29 made field goals (for Iowa). All of these numbers actually happened tonight, and as ESPNU noted early in the broadcast, scoring has been "Northwestern's biggest weakness" this season. While there are plenty of advanced statistics that could go further in depth as to how awful the offense is, these numbers tell the story sufficiently. Northwestern doesn't seem to be improving much on offense, and could end up being historically bad.

— I love Sanjay Lumpkin, but aside from his 7 rebounds against Michigan, he has really struggled in Big Ten play. He has scored 6 total points to 9 fouls. He has 12 rebounds, but 0 assists or blocks, and just 2 steals. He has been good on defense, but is consistently facing mismatches. He is still playing hard and showing signs of improvement, but we are finding out quickly that he is not quite big or athletic enough to do the things he is being asked to do. He is still a very good basketball player who deserves big minutes and will grow as his freshman season continues, but the hike in competition has hit Sanjay especially hard.

— Northwestern's roster is far from loaded with talent, but if the blowouts continue to pile up, questions have to be asked of Chris Collins' staff. All of the excitement about recruits (more on that soon) cannot obscure reasonable analysis of the job Collins and his assistants are placing on the court right now. The early returns are not encouraging. The staff is experiencing growing pains. If things don't show at least incremental improvement going forward, it would be fair for Northwestern fans to more closely monitor the job the coaching staff is performing.

— Speaking of more closely scrutinizing this year's team, it does nobody any good to talk about the recruits coming in. They aren't here, and if they were they wouldn't be ready to turn the team into world-beaters overnight. While much of the attention is actively sought by the program, ramping up the hype machine every time the current team loses by a larger margin not only does this year's team a disservice, but makes it more and more difficult for future Northwestern teams to face reasonable expectations. Next year's rotation will include several, if not a majority, of the guys we are watching now, so let's pay attention to them as much as we can.

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