Random Thoughts: as the Big 10 Starts

As you look at the Northwestern Wildcats' Big 10 Conference schedule, you might be concerned about the first 5 games, and how the 10-3 Cats' will adjust to the pressures of the next three months. daCoach sure is....

Conspiracy theorists will wonder about Northwestern's first 5 conference games....
Seriously, after early 3-0 starts, the Big 10 has loaded up our January with games at Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State, with home games against Michigan and Wisconsin.
Some Purple Board fans are really concerned...
The Wildcats are 10-3, with losses to Cornell [5-7], Stanford [9-3] and Tennessee Tech [5-7].

On the win side -The Cats played a series of close games against
  • North Florida [2-10],
  • Western Michigan [6-8],
  • Wheaton [7-3], and
  • Loyola (MD) [5-6].
Brown [5-8], and UPR Mayaguez [0-??], were teams we expected to beat and did handily.

We also had a few "quality wins" against DePaul [9-5], Miami [8-7] and maybe Utah [7-8] (altho the coach at of the Utes might disagree] and Northwestern State [5-7] (they were in the NCAAs last year), but all in all, NU's preconference schedule was no stronger or weaker than some other of our Big 10  "brothers," we just seemed to make it closer.

Comparing records, the "top" teams [Stanford, Miami, DePaul Utah and NSU] are 38-30 so far this season, the rest are 35-49. Overall the combined record of our opponents is 73-79.

The Cats enter conference play in 7th place, behind Illinois, Michigan and Purdue in the Non-conference win column but tied for 4th in the loss column. Only one team in the Big 10, Minnesota, has a losing record as we start the conference.

Yes, NU appears to have played to the level of our opponents, and also still has trouble breaking a good zone, but for the first time we start the conference season with 3 guys averaging double figures, and a decent assist to turnover ratio.

The Cats also have several guys who can come off the bench and play almost to the starter's level - in December several Walk-on players got in, scored and rebounded well. The true freshmen [Coble, Nash and Ryan] all have made a contribution.

The questions?
  • Can Coble and Moore continue their 40+% 3 point shooting?
  • Will Tim Doyle and Vince Scott continue to get the ball inside to folks who can score?
  • Will the Cats' continue to make those layups? and will they be able to lay up the ball against those daunting Big 10 defenses.
The conference season starts Wednesday against a red hot Penn State squad who ran wild putting up 129 points last week.

In the past, NU's chances at post season were hampered by their less than stellar preconference results.

This year those 10 wins, even the close ones, are looking better and better.
-- da Coach

Agree or disagree?
You can send your direct comments to Coach Roy. Or post them on the Purple Boards.
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