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Wreckin the Ramblin Wrecks

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I'm done with work for a few days - time to hit the lull of actual news hard, I have some cool stuff planned over the next week or so and lots of time to write it. So be pumped.

That being said, damn! In all honesty, the first half Northwestern played Tuesday night could have beaten any team in the country. That's not an exaggeration. When you go 10-12 from downtown, that's not stoppable. And the scary thing is that it wasn't because of some special aspect of Georgia Tech's defense that NU was exploiting - it was just NU's regular offense, but with every single shot falling. What I'm trying to say is that it's the type of thing that could happen again, conceivably. (Conversely, it also means that if shots aren't falling, NU could lose to much worse teams - this has happened in the past on a variety of occasions and is the Northwestern we are used to..)

John Shurna appears to have forgotten how to miss - he's 18-for-27 from long range on the year - and although that will certainly drop below 50 percent by the end of the year, he's still a spectacular shooter and an early Big Ten player of the year candidate. Anybody who was concerned about Kevin Coble's departure can argue that having Coble would certainly add extra depth to the team, but anybody saying that NU lost their best player is insane - Shurna has taken that mantle and thrown it into a hoop about 22 feet away.

More after the jump.

  • My favorite place in the world might be the student section at football/basketball games. Some great stuff, particularly surrounding crowd favorite - and by far GT's best player Tuesday, save one dunk - Glen Rice, Jr. When he missed the dunk in the second half, the student section decided to spend the rest of the game harping on him - chants of "YOU CAN'T DUNK!", "DUNK IT!", "WHO'S YOUR DADDY" and other various dickish dunk-related things abounded. We cheered every time he touched the ball, chanted "RICE! RICE! RICE! RICE!" whenever he was about to come in - "BRING IN RICE!" when he was on the bench - and generally hated. He gave us a vicious scowl when he finally scored. Sadly, my "CHARLOTTE HORNETS" chant didn't work out. Either way, great performance by Rice. It reminded me a lot of the time his dad hit like seven th
  • Iman Shumpert is supposedly a great on-ball defender. John Shurna did not seem to care. He shot threes over him, which isn't surprising, but what did surprise me was a really pretty dream shake fader that got Shumpert headed one way and left Shurna with an open 11-footer. I get the feeling teams are starting to catch on to Shurna's ridiculous shooting stroke, which left him some open lanes. His drives are about as ugly as his shots - and I feel he has a tendency to get away with some travels because he's nifty with the way he picks up his dribble - but they tend to end in a bucket or a foul.
  • Kenpom fact to prove how ridiculous NU's offense was in the first half: from the time they had 10 points to the end of the first half, NU scored 45 points on 22 possessions. Yup. Do the math. I'll wait. YEAH. (NU's kenpom stats took a wicked boost after the game - the Cats now rank third in eFG% and eighth in offensive efficiency in the nation.
  • My personal favorite, courtesy of commenter WestsideBrandon: "Oh no UDOFIA!" meant to be said in the same fashion as "oh no you didn't". It was funny at the time.
  • Sometimes you've got to laugh at the shots that are going in. Alex Marcotullio's four-point play made me do that. Props to Alex on exactly the type of night NU wants from him. He hit a runner, meaning there is a small possibility that unicorns might actually exist.
  • Luka Mirkovic generally has an issue with being tentative: he did not have that issue Tuesday. He sealed his man or waited for his man to commit to a double team, got his hands high to show he was open for a pass, and went straight up with it or hit the next man. (He also ran the ugliest backdoor cut I've ever seen for a successful basket.) The results are clear: one of the best games of his NU career, 11 points on six shots to go with 7 free throws as well as eight rebounds and seven assists. That's the Luka I like. He hasn't even had to use his 1.5 ugly post moves from last year. However, he needs to chill out with his AAGGAHAGHAGHAHGHGHGH chest bump and arm raise moments. These are cool when NU needs a spark. They are not cool when NU is up 18 and he goes 1-for-2 at the line. Then they are hilarious. 
  • Also, the facemask scares me ball-less. 
  • Georgia Tech has a deep, deep bench player named McPherson Moore. McPherson Moore is the biggest bro in the history of bros. He's kinda fat, short, looks a bit like Jon Belushi, and doesn't really make any effort to defend his man, but hustled for a garbage time rebound like nothing I've ever seen before. After the game I bet he cracked open a Natty Light and texted some hot babes about how he got into the game and it was pretty chill.
  • The downside: free throws. Yeesh. In a game where Georgia Tech and the refs collaborated to give NU by my estimation 73 million billion second half free throws - I'm not looking at the scoresheet - NU was dismal at the line, with Mirkovic going 3-for-7 and even Shurna going 3-for-6. I've long said about NU that a foul in the bonus for a 1-and-1 is essentially a turnover for NU - if they don't get converting 75 percent of their free throws as a team, they will lose a conference game because of poor performance at the line. Mark my words.
  • Productive game from JerShon Cobb, including a super-pretty reverse layup. He's definitely not a productive player at the top of the 1-3-1 defense though - NU is definitely better served by Jeff Ryan and Alex Marcotullio in that department. I'd like to see them stick to man towards the beginning of games when Cobb is on the court.
  • Drew Crawford is a mighty bad defender. Be impressed with his 19 points, because they came on a variety of shots that made me wince, including a step-back 18-footer with a hand in his face from the baseline where my thought process was "wow, that's such a bad shot that I don't even care if it goes in" directly before it went in. Although appreciate the hair, which WestsideBrandon refers to as "the Drew-fro". Much cooler than a Jewfro, as someone who has seen many in my day.
  • NU has clearly been working on the Lorenzo Charles "airball a 25-foot three badly enough that the guy waiting under the basket can get an easy two" play. Either that or they airballed two threes and got very lucky.
  • Austin Nichols might lead the world in fouls and turnovers per minute.
  • Jeff Ryan isn't a great player. Reasons include the fact that he has no jump shot, relatively little athleticism, and only one move he uses to attempt to get past defenders, which consists of him sort of swiveling his body with his back to the defender while dribbling. (He used this move on one possession for 18 straight seconds - he got the ball off an inbounds pass in the backcourt, dribbled across the halfway line in ten seconds, then held it at the top of the key for 8 more. If someone had seen those 18 seconds as their first 18 seconds of basketball they would never watch the sport ever again.) But his defense at the head of the 1-3-1 makes him useful him useful, I guess. Sort of. Not really.
  • Scary when you're up 15 and Juice Thompson hasn't attempted a shot yet. That being said, 55 in the first half and only 91 at the end of the game? Come on, boys. Man up. Get 100 next time.
  • Other downside in a game with almost none: NU has no idea how to break a full court press. See: Jeff Ryan's five-second call, and every time NU tried to get the ball across the court. Carmody needs to design a press-break play that doesn't involve every player sprinting to the corners of the court where they can be easily double-teamed.
  • John Shurna had one of every statistical category. Pretty sure he recorded a safety.
  • Northwestern won a basketball game by 20 points against a team from the ACC. Much like Alex Marcotullio's runner, I feel this is evidence there are unicorns somewhere in the world.