Wildcats are 4-2, with some close wins against Kansas State and Bowling Green. A couple of ugly losses against IUPUI and N.C. State, and a couple of laughers against UMES and New Hampshire. In our last Purple Reign Intel Report, we suggested that we might get a few answers last Saturday.
Did we? "> Wildcats are 4-2, with some close wins against Kansas State and Bowling Green. A couple of ugly losses against IUPUI and N.C. State, and a couple of laughers against UMES and New Hampshire. In our last Purple Reign Intel Report, we suggested that we might get a few answers last Saturday.
Did we? ">

Answering our Own Questions

Midway through December, the <b><font color="#330033">Wildcats</font></b> are 4-2, with some close wins against <b>Kansas State</font></b> and <b>Bowling Green</b>. A couple of ugly losses against <b>IUPUI</font></b> and <b>N.C. State</b>, and a couple of laughers against <b>UMES</font></b> and <b>New Hampshire</b>. In our last <b>Purple Reign Intel Report</b>, we suggested that we might get a few answers last Saturday. <br>Did we?

Answering our own questions

As the front page Purple Reign Poll results reflect, many NU fans are looking at the positives - NU is 4-2 after all - rather than all of the possible negatives. Yes, the loss of Vedran Vukusic [NU Photo-left] will hurt the Cats this year - its the biggest disappointment for the fans so far - but out of the freshman class came Jim Maley [NU Photo-right] to fill in, scoring in double figures his last 3 games.

The Cats don't appear to deal with a press very well, NC State used that almost perfectly, but many teams don't deal with a full court press. We sometimes seem to fall out of our "motion offense," and we go on long scoring droughts during games.

We do run a zone press pretty well - it shut down Bowling Green for a while - but we eventually let the Falcons figure it out and they chipped away to eventually take the lead.

These are all things that trouble coaches (and fans), but almost every team hits a lull during a game. The good teams figure out how to break out of the doldrums.

So on to the questions:

Will Center Aaron Jennings step up and take charge of the middle like he did against UNH, or was the the AJ of IUPUI the "real" Jennings.

Aaron Jennings [left] has apparently stopped reading his press clippings and started to play his game. He comes out and plays the high post fairly well, and shoots 3s [3 of 4 against BGSU] unlike most other Big 10 Centers.

There are some concerns about his defense under the basket - BGSU's Netter seemed to be able to get over him for shots at times last week - but he seems to be starting to play the role Coach Carmody envisions for a motion offense center. A few more games and we should have a better answer.

Will Jason Burke get a few in the hole?
Jason did get shut out at NC State, but he came back against BGSU with a decent game. He seems to be in a rotation with Winston Blake and Jimmy Maley - coming off the bench to fill in where ever he's assigned. He seems to play that role very well.

During a few games, he's assumed leadership out on the floor - directing traffic, and he seems to be playing a little defense too. He did answer the question Saturday - 8 points  - now its time for his Senior breakout game.

How well can we play without Winston Blake?
Oh, do we miss Winston when he's either not 100% or out of the game period. It was obvious during the NC State game, when it seemed we just couldn't get anything going. Winston tried to come in and help out, but it just wasn't there.

Last Saturday, he started along with Jimmy Maley, and made 2 of 8 which led to 27 points from the 3 forwards. He doesn't seem to have his 3 point touch back, but he's been sitting out practice nursing his ankle. So I guess the answer is: we don't play as well, but we can play with Winston on the bench.

The answer to the unasked question is probably - We want Winston out on the floor playing as much as possible.

Does Davor Duvancic become a force up front, stepping up for Vukusic and Blake?

Everyone's waiting for Davor to step up and play like Vedran Vukusic did last year. We all thought he was VV's clone and just needed some time to become another force up front.

But with only 3 minutes Saturday, its hard to project just when he will start to challenge VV and Blake [and now Maley] or even Jennings for minutes.

Can the other Frosh [Evan Seacat, Mohamed Hachad] step up, get involved, and put some more pressure outside?

Evan Seacat has been the freshman player Bill Carmody has mentioned more in post game interviews than maybe even Maley. He was supposed to be the big gun off the bench Saturday, but came in and missed his first 2 shots. He played 3 minutes. He needs to translate his practice shooting into game points, then the playing time will come.

Mohamed Hachad didn't get into the game Saturday so its hard to evaluate his progress. When he's come in, he's been quite the presence under the basket and off the boards.

Will Coach Bill Carmody involve more of his bench ?

Saturday, the coach played 9 of his 13, so who's left down there...

Senior 6-6 Forward Patrick Towne - rode an exercise bike during the first practice and hasn't seen any floor time yet this year. Our Greg Kane likes his jumping ability and notes he's the best slam-dunker on the team. I'm surprised he doesn't get a few minutes but he may not fit into the offense.

Sophomore 6-11 Center Thomas Soltau - is still developing physically. Those who have seen him this Fall say he's getting bigger, but when I saw him practice last spring he looked like he had a way to go to get playing time.

Freshman 6-9 Forward Ivan Tolic - had tendonitis in his knee early in practice and is probably a long shot to play until that completely heals up.

The backcourt of Jitim Young and TJ Parker should get a good workout Saturday - but they've been the most consistent thing in the NU game - their play probably won't decide the game, but we probably won't be able to win without them both having a great day.
Was I wrong on this one - TJ Parker was the deciding force in the game! "Scooter" is playing through some leg cramping but showed enough quickness to run the floor and get the winning basket Saturday.

The big question is what's happened to Jitim Young? He isn't shooting baskets like he usually does. Yes, there should be a lot of concern about this one, except that if you think back to the end of January of last year, Jitim was also in a "funk" and he pulled out of it right after football signing day!

A good sign was that Jitim did tie Jennings in rebounds against BGSU with 7. Coach Carmody has always said that players like Jitim just have to play through whatever is happening to them, and they have to not force their shots. 

So here you are, along with Stephen's comments and Greg's postgame analysis; more grist for the Basketball Board mill. What do you think?
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