While there's really nothing positive to take out of last night's win from on the court except maybe the continued scoring of John Shurna, I was mildly encouraged to see how angry Bill Carmody was after the game. Normally Carmody seems whiny and emo after games and blames losses on his players not making shots, but tonight he sounded more like a real Big Ten coach. From Lindsey Wilhite and the Daily Herald:
"After you get beat the way we got beat by Michigan State, you can’t look ahead," Carmody said, referring to Saturday's 21-point beatdown. "You’ve got to go out there and play and be a competitor and fight your tail off. And we didn’t do that."
He said his guys had no zest and no life. He told the postgame radio audience that Texas-Pan American, a team that starts a 5-foot-9 freshman walk-on at the point and played most of the way with four guys 6-1 and under on the floor, out-toughed the Cats and deserved to win.
If the Northwestern players have any pride at all, they must be as angry as Carmody was, and know they'll need a vastly superior effort Sunday to have a chance against a suddenly rejuvanated Michigan team. The question is who will step up to complement Shurna. Normally you'd expect Michael Thompson to fill that role, but according to Carmody, Juice has a bad hip and hasn't been practicing. I've watched the last 3 games and the injury isn't noticeable as he still has quickness, but he's just not shooting jump shots well and making uncharacteristic bad decisions with the ball. He's averaging just 7 points per game and has more turnovers (6) than made field goals (5). If Thompson keeps shooting under 20% from the field and turning the ball over, the 'Cats are going nowhere and will struggle to make the NIT, so he's going to need to heal fast and start taking over games late the way he did against Tennessee State and NC State.
I'd also like to see Jeremy Nash get back into form. As the only senior getting any minutes, he needs to start leading the team on and off the court. He was wreaking havoc on defense for much of the season but has just 1 steal in his last 4 games, and his 3-point shooting has fallen to 31%. All he's done in the last 2 games is nearly get a technical foul against Michigan State when he was blaming the refs for his inability to finish inside. Nash needs to focus less on jacking up threes and more on going back to being the defensive force he's been in the past.
The 'Cats effort on Sunday will show us what this team is made of. If they can't get up for a conference road game as important as this one and come out flat, then we can forget about the season and hope Kevin Coble comes back strong next year. A lot more on this game coming tomorrow.