NU beat Indiana on Sunday, 69-61, for a much needed win, as next up for our Wildcats is a huge road test against No. 11 Ohio State. With the win, NU improved to 11-5, 1-2 in the Big Ten. Dannielle Diamant led all scorers with 20 points, one of four Wildcats to finish in double figures. Even though the Hoosiers are awful this year (5-12 overall, 0-4 Big Ten), this still marked the Wildcats' first win in Bloomington since 1998.
Anyway, now that we're just past the halfway mark in the regular season, I thought it'd be a good time to do a stats-o-rama breakdown of the Wildcats. The important stats are that we're 11-5, with a current RPI of 51. But let's take a closer look at the numbers. As with all stats, some of these numbers are relevant, all are cherry-picked, some will bore you. And away we go...
66.6: The Wildcats' evil, evil scoring average. It's good for 7th in the Big Ten. On the flip side, NU allows 64.9 points per game, tied for 8th most in the Big Ten.
3: The number of Wildcats averaging more than 33 minutes per game. This might not sound like too much to get worked up over, but our lack of depth, due largely to injuries, has forced three of our starters to play a ton of minutes. Two of those starters are freshmen: Morgan Jones and Karly Roser. The third is junior Kendall Hackney, the team's leading scorer. Jones, Roser and Hackney rank 7th, 8th and 9th in the Big Ten in minutes per game, respectively. A fourth starter, Allison Mocchi, who stepped into the starting lineup when Brittany Orban suffered a season-ending ACL tear, is averaging more than 30 minutes over the last six games. We'll see if they can keep up this pace.
5.6: Roser's assists per game, good for 4th in the Big Ten and 23rd in the NCAA. The Wildcats have received heady play from their young point guard. There have been a few ups and downs, as you would expect from a first-year player (she could stand to cut down on some of her 4.3 turnovers per game), but Roser has filled the shoes of graduated four-year starter Beth Marshall very nicely. She has formed half of a dynamic freshman backcourt duo, which brings me to my next stat:
15.0, 5.9: Jones' points per game and rebounds per game, respectively. She ranks second on the team in both categories. Her scoring average is good for 10th in the Big Ten. Jones clearly has the green light from head coach Joe McKeown to shoot the ball, and while there have been some off nights, there have been many stretches where she's carried the team. Her clutch moment of the season so far is probably sinking the go-ahead free throws with 11 seconds left to give NU a 44-43 win on the road against then-No. 23 LSU. Jones has racked up
three four Big Ten Freshman of the Year awards, with Roser also picking up one.
16.7, 6.0: Hackney’s points per game and rebounds per game, respectively. I'd be remiss if I didn't spotlight NU's leader in both categories. She is 6th in the BT in scoring and is the most consistent Wildcat performer. With Diamant's stomach bug and ankle injury earlier this season, Hackney has even been pressed into playing center at times, instead of her natural forward position.
6-1: The Wildcats' impressive road record so far this year. This includes big non-conference wins at LSU, at Missouri, and at UNLV. Conversely, NU has a less-than-stellar 4-3 record at Welsh-Ryan Arena so far, including an inexplicable blowout against Toledo. Gotta defend that home court.
18.3: NU's turnovers per game. It was actually worse to start the season, as the Wildcats averaged 20.6 turnovers in their first 10 games, but they've since cleaned things up a bit in their last six, committing 14.3 per game. The overall figure is 4th most in the Big Ten. As far as turnover margin goes, NU ranks 8th best in the Big Ten, or 4th worst.
34: Tailor Jones' uniform number. Truth be told, Tailor's stat line (3.5 pts, 3.9 reb, 1.8 ast in 21 min per game) doesn't particularly pop out, but my unscientific eye test tells me that her game has really come on the last couple of weeks. While she's always been one of the team's top athletes, she hasn't always played in control and has been a turnover machine in the past. But lately, she's been a great contributor off the bench, for a team sorely in need of bench contributions. Against Toledo, she chipped in 9 points and 6 rebounds. Against North Dakota State, making her first and only start of the season with Diamant out, she scored 6 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished 4 assists. Again, not mind-blowing stats, but she's been giving some quality minutes.
14: Alex Cohen’s blocks. Cohen, the third freshman in this heralded recruiting class, hasn't gotten too much playing time, but she's made the most of her 7.1 minutes per game, ranking third on the team in blocks. She shows good athleticism and quickness in the paint. She just needs a little bit more experience under her belt (she's also got 19 turnovers), but she clearly has a lot of promise.
13: Number of games left in the regular season. I'm not a bracketologist, but I would think that in order to make the NCAA tournament, NU probably needs to go at least 8-8 in conference, meaning a 7-6 record the rest of the way, for an overall regular season record of 18-11. Then, at least one win in the Big Ten tournament would solidify their case. The Wildcats do have a strong strength of schedule, though, so maybe a 7-9 record with two wins in the Big Ten tourney might be enough to squeak in. Better just to go 13-0 down the stretch and remove all doubt, though.