Northwestern’s 71-58 loss to Stanford late Thursday night was largely a tale of two halves.
At the break, Chris Collins and co. found themselves within two points. Drew Crawford was 5-7 from the floor, scoring 13 first-half points. Northwestern’s team defense looked stout with effective rotations and active hands.
In the second half, though, the tides turned awfully quick. Stanford starting getting open looks and knocking down jump shots. Crawford couldn’t get anything going, finishing the game going 6-15 from the field with his only second-half points coming on a put-back dunk (his second of the game). Stanford put up 42 points on the Wildcats after halftime, cruising to a double-digit victory.
It is said that a team is only as good as the sum of its parts. This half-to-half volatility, then, can be caused by individual inconsistencies.
Crawford and JerShon Cobb, Northwestern’s two most prolific offensive threats, were never able to get it going simultaneously as Cobb did most of his damage in the second half. He finished with 19 points on 6-10 shooting.
There was one sequence in the second half where Sanjay Lumpkin epitomized inconsistent play. To be fair, inconsistency from the redshirt freshman shouldn’t really come as a surprise. After Northwestern missed a jumpshot, Lumpkin—whom Collins referred to as Northwestern’s best rebounder—drew a foul as he got position on a Stanford defender. Northwestern retained possession and missed another jumper. This time, Lumpkin snagged the rebound. Later in the possession Lumpkin drove the ball down the baseline and fired a pass a few rows into the stands as he was looking to find Tre Demps on the opposite wing.
Lumpkin is a player who is always on the floor diving for loose balls and is unafraid to battle with bigger players on the glass or in the post. But as a package with his seven rebounds (three of them on the offensive end), Lumpkin also fouled out and committed three turnovers.
Along with Lumpkin, each Northwestern starter (Cobb, Crawford, Alex Olah and Dave Sobolewski) had at least one turnover, accounting for 13 of Northwestern’s 16 turnovers.
It’s only two games into the season, but Collins must be able to find a way to know what he will be getting out of his team on a minute-to-minute, half-to-half and game-to-game basis. At some point, Northwestern may develop that consistency. But after dropping their first real test to Stanford, it’s clear the Wildcats aren’t quite there yet.
When will they get there? Only time will tell. That's what a rebuilding program needs, time.