We're still trying to Learn about this Team

This was a test of sorts...Could the <b>NU Wildcats</b> come back from a pretty ugly loss to <b>DePaul</b> last Tuesday, and play an unknown quantity [another team of <b>Demons</b>] without a crowd.<br><br> The <b>Cats</b> were successful, but there are still a lot of questions to answer before the Big 10 Season.

One of the biggest questions turned out to be how the Cats' would react to adversity. What if a key player fouled out, what if one wasn't playing 100%. Some of those questions are starting to be answered, but what about those mistakes?
4 Cats scored in double figures, but 18 NU turnovers and some long 3 pointers by NSU guards kept the game close, but NU [2-2] got to shoot 16 of 25 freethrows while the Northwestern State Demons [1-3] only made 4 of 7. In addition, NU's 18 turnovers were matched by the Demons who still had scoring from 8 players, one more than NU had in the entire game.

Before the game, there was a lot of concern about Vedran Vukusic -- he had missed practice all week because of the flu. In addition, some observers were worried about the early play of T.J. Parker -- he's only 1-6 from the arc, but according the NU Coach Bill Carmody;
You know' we're trying to have TJ run the team so I think he's concentrating on that, maybe at the expense of his own shooting -- he's taking a lot of shots, he's practicing hard on his long range shooting.

I'm not as concerned about that -- its just our half-court offense right now, its not sharp so we spent the last two days just an hour and 45 minutes half court offense, no breaking...lets see if we can get this down. So i hope we're going to improve in that area.
And there was a question if the team starts to wait for Jitim Young to step it up...
I don't think that happens until we're down a little bit...I think Jitim's playing pretty well within the offense.
But the team was forced to demonstrate how they can play without their team captain today as Jitim Young picked up his fourth foul early in the 2nd half and had to sit down for the next 14 minutes.

Still, the Cats came out in the 2nd half and stepped it up.
We had a 15 point lead and when teams are down that much they take a lot of chances and you either go one way or the other: you turn the ball over and they get steals or you pick 'em apart -- we did the former.
What about the switch to the Zone defense, and the improvement in the fast break in the 2nd half?
Yeah, I think we were running around chasing too many guys in the first half and then we sort of calmed it down in that zone and then ... but still the turnovers again - how many did we have 16, 18 turnovers - you can't beat too many teams when you have eighteen turnovers.
How many turnovers is acceptable for a Bill Carmody team? besides none?
Should be under 10 because I didn't think that pressure was so intense. You know, they were playing a hard man-to-man, and we worked on it the last couple of days, just hard man-to-man but it didn't seem like we were going through things.

Actually I thought when Evan [G Evan Seacat] got in there, I thought things calmed down a little bit. He missed some shots, but we sort of got , we seemed to be getting better shots.
How about the play of Vedran Vukusic? At one point in the 2nd half he looked like he was pretty well "gassed."
Well, I didn't have any choice. That was basically it because, right off the bat Davor [F Davor Duvancic] got two fouls and I was hopeful that I was going to have Vince [C Vince Scott] and Davor in there a little longer but Vedran does a lot of different things out there and so...

We kept asking him and he didn't say anything so  I took that as he wanted to stay in the game.
Did you get the sense that TJ got going a bit today?
Yeah, I thought he played well. In the first half he was getting the ball up the court and throwing to the right guys, whether it was on the break or the half court, but our forwards, Jitim and Vedran were having trouble dribbling the ball across court.

But TJ's role, certainly in the beginning of any game is to get us into our offense and start it and I thought he did that well, but it was after that that things -- the pressure got to us.
It seemed that Mohamed Hachad got some fast breaks going...
You know -- some teams get tip-ins and dunks. You don't see that many out there, did you? No, so you have to get some easy baskets.

We have some guys that are pretty quick and the first half, you know Northwestern State blocked 2 or 3 shots off the board - you know, would be layups - and in the second half got a few more, so you have to figure out how you're going to get some easy ones so there's not so much pressure on that half court offense.
Was this a good game in that Jitim Young got in foul trouble and the rest of the team had to step up? You had to win without Jitim?
Yeah, I guess. You know, I'm happy that when Evan was in there for Jitim, we seemed to be doing OK, but I'd prefer that he play 40 minutes.
Next is Florida State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge...
Challenge is a good word...We just have to try to continue to get better.

So its a good team, but no different than the teams we're going to face January, February and March so you go to an away court - how you're going to behave, how you're going to respond to the pressure the crowd and all that - that's why you play these kinds of games in November and December - we're still trying to learn about this team - how we're going to win games.
Next up is the Big 10-ACC challenge- WGN's coverage will feature Dave Eanet and Shon Morris. The game is also on ESPN2 starting at 6 PM Central.

[Bill Carmody's Post Game comments are taken from the WGN Post Game Show
with Dave Eanet and Stu Kaplan, and may be editied for clarity]

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