Northwestern University men's basketball: 1-0 all-time (editor's note: at home, apparently, I'm dumb) on CBS. You can only assume that that's a streak that will continue forever and ever and ever.
NU needed a win Saturday to keep that machine pumping their tournament hopes' heart plugged in. They still need to go HAM down the stretch in order to qualify, but, that's a post or two for another time. Good win against a ranked - sort of - team, awesome atmosphere, and ONIONS for all.
- First off, the CBS thing. Bill Raftery is one of my favorite announcers, so, I'd like a full-on report from people not watching as to what he said. He's a great announcer for a lot of reasons, but the obvious things are the catchphrases: were there any onions? Was there lingerie on the deck, did anybody score with a little kiss? I must know.
- Either way, there were ONIONS involved, and they were Juice Thompson's. 5-for-8 shooting from downtown, seemingly all clutch as hell, and one of those three misses coming back his way off a Shurna offensive board, good for 18 points on seven possessions from downtown. Northwestern is going to miss him badly. Really badly.
- Northwestern's worst enemy is always Skeletor himself, Mike Tisdale. He can shoot, he's taller, quicker, and stronger than all NU's big men (things which aren't necessarily true of his matchups with other Big Ten bigs). But he was a no-show Saturday, getting off only four shots in only 21 minutes, his worst performance since the second half of the showdown between the Tune Squad and the Monstars, where, if I remember correctly, Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan led the Tunes on a 46-2 run down the stretch to close out for an upset victory.
- I made a really poor prognostication that there wouldn't be any students in attendance due to the game time and various Gone Greek Night ongoings Friday... I was dead wrong. Absolutely packed, and apparently the only person dumb enough not to make it home and change out of his suit was commenter Westside Brandon, who luckily was wearing a lavender-ish dress shirt and tie to match the rest of the student section.
- Hey, Bill Carmody read my preview post from the first Illinois game - not a whiff of the 1-3-1 all game. Probably disappointing for Raftery, but he probably did get to point out that NU was in a "zone with... MANTOMANPRINCIPLES" when we busted out our matchup. NU still did a poor job defending the perimeter - Illinois shot 8-for-14 from downtown - but they did two things you'd think would never happen that a zone might stop: they kept McCamey from driving (and on the bench, in foul trouble) and didn't let Mike Davis or Tisdale get good looks down low, all without fouling. Those are the types of things a zone would stop while giving up lots of other stuff - except NU got it out of their usually weak defense. Really, really surprising from a unit we frequently malign for their lack of one-on-one defensive play. The 1-3-1 is just too exploitable, and the Illini have always known how to exploit it. Guys like Brandon Paul and McCamey still hurt us, but not as much as what they did against the 1-3-1.
- Also, they tore apart NU with pick-and-rolls and interior passing in the first game - but there just seemed to be hands in passing lanes and guys accurately rotating. Except Davide Curletti, he seemed lost, but, oddly enough, was frequently Carmody's choice over Mirkovic for offense-defense subs. Those were weird, but I won't fault Carmody's coaching that game, a lot of the moves he made really seemed to come through.
- Although, Davide absolutely sent Mike Tisdale's nonsense on one block. Forgive me for ever mocking you and your name that sounds like it could be that of a reverse Jewish person, Meyers Leonard - Leonard seemed a better presence than Tisdale, especially after throwing down a frightening reverse dunk.
- Best performance of JerShon's young career. Drew Crawford started off connecting, but disappeared for the game's last 28 minutes or so, bricking everything including two minutes or so, and for the period before ONIONS happened, Cobb paced NU's attack. His midrange game is nasty. He's shown all year he has a series of moves that can buy him space against a one-on-one defender, but he's looked more comfortable finishing off assisted scores - today that wasn't the case. He hit defenders with some crossovers and nailed the shots, not to mention some veteran-looking (i.e. possibly dives) fouls on contested jumpers that bought him five shots at the line. Very encouraging from the precocious neophyte.
- A lot of people complained about the kid in the Demetri McCamey shirt in the front row of the student section. I'm just glad McCamey decided to sit in the stands instead of playing in the game.
- Northwestern didn't trail that game. Weird, especially considering the pace of the game that saw NU take several leads only to go on excessively excruciating offensive droughts while the Illini momentum in the building rose.
- For those of you wondering, John Shurna is better than Mike Capocci. While Capocci was back to his old self, seeming out of sorts on offense and missing his only look, a relatively uncontested reverse layup (my scoring play of choice in case you're ever matched up against me in Blomquist), Shurna actually spaced the floor. He wasn't worldbeater John Shurna - eight points on five shots, two misses from downtown - but it's good to see him back.
- Also good to see every team in the league is intent on murdering him while he's attempting dunks. Is it weird that whatever Luka Mirkovic did (which was unintentional, but violent) was ruled an intentional foul while hacking Shurna out of the air (clearly intentional to stop a score) wasn't?
- Which brings me to another point, truly horrendous officiating both ways. The cube-headed ref managed to muck up a lot of fairly basic things. A ridiculous offensive goaltending call, lots of missed fouls, lots of made-up fouls. I'm still not sure how the play with a McCamey three and off-ball foul resulted in Illinois getting the ball back - I've always been pretty sure that was treated as an and-1 situation, but they got the ball baseline out of bounds.
- Ivan Peljusic's +/-? Plus four. Nice, bro.
- Heckle of the day (sadly not mine): "Hey, Bruce Weber, you're so orange you look like an older Paulie D!" That's one orange dude. I wish he rocked the Bruce Pearl orange suit more often, although I bet his chronic yelling laryngitis won't allow that somehow. Weber also needed to back the hell out of NU's passing lanes when we're on offense - he was about a foot onto the court while NU was trying to swing the ball into the corner.
- Northwestern's band is busting out a lot of new songs, which are awesome (less Holiday!) but I was confused by their selection of "25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago. That, my friends, is esoteric. Dude, you can even listen to classic rock radio - the least imaginative playlist makers of all time - for three weeks and not hear that song. You'll hear "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealer's Wheel six times and "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull about 14 times, and maybe one time the DJ would be like "let me play that weird song with completely incomprehensible lyrics and the horn section... well... nah, second thought, I'll play that one Billy Joel song for the 275893rd time this week". (Two things: I hate Billy Joel's guts, but I think we've been over this in my LIU preview post, secondly, I think I'd shoot myself out of boredom after two months of being a classic rock DJ crying myself to sleep about giving out tickets to the new Lynyrd Skynyrd tour where everybody in the group is probably already dead.
- Funny moment leaving at the end of the game: we were talking about how Illinois' last second three tipped the line (NU -1.5 or so) in Illinois' favor, and Brandon pointed out that Loretta was probably somewhere, either ecstatic furious about something... sure enough, busride home, I saw he tweeted about how the shot ruined his over/under bet but made him money on the spread. Too, too, predictable.