Sunday, February 1, 2009

UW-Northwestern thoughts

Of all the individual moments that combined to make this yet another frustrating loss, let me submit this one as the one that sums up the season:

With about 20 seconds to play and the Badgers down three, Tim Jarmusz has a wide-open 3-pointer. Instead of taking it, he passes to Marcus Landry, who drives, misses, but puts the rebound in to cut the lead to one. UW then fouls Craig Moore, who makes two free throws. Something similar like this happens a few more times. The Badgers never actually attempt a game-tying shot.

This play is so representative of the season because the player in question -- who had a pretty decent game up until then -- did not have the confidence or courage to step up and take a big shot. The end result was close, but not enough.


This is getting redundant. Other notable head scratchers from Evanston.

-Northwestern makes its first four shots of the game, all 3-pointers.

-Northwestern shoots 57.1% from the field. If ever there was a game that showed just how bad the Badger defense has gotten this year, this was it.

-Someone named Jeremy Nash had nine points for Northwestern, including a 3-pointer and a prayer driving scoop shot. Looked like freaking Steve Nash.

-Moore, a nice complementary player on any Big Ten team, scored 26 points. The worst came when he grabbed a rebound off a missed NU free throw, over Landry, and was fouled and made two free throws. Inexcusable.

-The Badgers looked completely befuddled against Northwestern's 1-3-1 defense. It was almost as if they hadn't seen it ... three weeks ago, when they completely shredded it! I'm all for patience, but UW's patience last night was more passive than anything. You beat zones by swinging the ball quickly and exploiting gaps that form when defenders don't shift in synch. Our perimeter players would catch the ball, wait two seconds, then do something, inviting traps that necessitated a jump pass or an awkward wrap-around bounce pass, often stretching near midcourt.

What was absurd was that at times, Northwestern had three defenders on Hughes at least 25 feet from the basket, and we were unable to do anything to exploit the 4-on-2 that existed around it. A couple times we got the ball to the baseline, which led to nice passing and a layup, but those instances were rare.

-How many games have we lost where we shot 52% from the field, 16-of-19 from the line, and held a 27-13 rebounding advantage? Before this year, anyway?

-In another story-of-the-season subplot, J-Bo and Leuer got back on track last night, but Landry was non-existent until the final minute, and Hughes was 3-of-10 from the floor.

-I have a special post ready for the officiating, led by the incomparable Ed Hightower, but let me just point out the key Kevin Coble basket where he took two large steps after establishing his pivot foot in the lane. How they missed that one, after so many other ticky-tack calls, astounds me.

Overall, still glad we went, always a fun experience to see Wisconsin on the road. Badger fans made up about half the crowd and we made ourselves heard. Unfortunately the only sound we made leaving Northwestern's glorified high school gym was muttering about the NIT and playing on Thursday of the Big Ten Tournament.

1 comment:

Corby said...

I thought the same thing about the end of game strategy. The announcers even said they agreed with Bo's idea to make Northwestern beat you at the line. When you foul the same guy over and over and he continues to make the free throws, and like you said, you NEVER even attempt a tying shot...when you have 3 opportunities to at least try to tie the game and put it into OT you have to try to do that. It becomes simply a numbers game when time is winding down.