After a disheartening display on Sunday night against Illinois State that saw Northwestern fall to 1-2 on the season, the Wildcats practiced Tuesday ahead of their short trip to UIC on Wednesday. Before practice, coach Chris Collins touched on a variety of topics. Here are some takeaways:
- The team watched film yesterday of Sunday’s game, and forward Kale Abrahamson said that they dissected it in “painful, excruciating detail.” The sophomore also said that Collins expressed his anger at the way the team played. “Coach was talking about how we literally did nothing that we practiced, and it was the worst half he’d ever seen us play.”
Said Collins, “There was nothing schematically we changed from the first half to the second half; it was all about effort, it was all about heart, it was all about fight. I finally found five guys that were bringing those things, but it was too late.”
- Collins said that the players weren’t necessarily frustrated, but they were hurt and angry – and he made it clear that that is a good thing. “If losing doesn’t hurt, then you got real problems,” he said.
- Asked to pinpoint one thing that really hurt his team on Sunday, Collins bemoaned a terrible display of transition defense. He specified that late in the first half, it was exactly this that allowed Illinois State to open up an 18-point halftime lead, one from which the Wildcats could never recover.
- During the second half comeback, Northwestern had some success with a lineup that essentially was comprised of five guards or wing players. Asked if that would prompt him to make changes to the starting five, Collins said he hadn’t made that decision yet, but did say that regardless of who starts, he will continue to mix and match guys during games to find which combinations work and which don’t. “Right now, nothing is set in stone,” he said.
Collins did make a point to note the contributions of Abrahamson and sophomore guard Tre Demps, especially in the second half. Collins also said that he feels that he needs to do a better job of getting senior forward Drew Crawford and junior guard Jershon Cobb more rest early in the game, even if it’s just for a minute or two at a time, so that he can keep them fresh down the stretch.
- Looking forward, Collins stressed the need to move on. Northwestern plays 7 games over a 16-day stretch, and he explained that if you dwell on what you didn’t do in past games, it will carry over into the future, which for the Wildcats is Wednesday night at UIC. “If you sit here and you stew over what you didn’t do over one night, now that spills into two or three losses, and then you’ve really dug yourself a big hole,” he said. “We used yesterday to watch the film and get our frustrations out and get our anger out. Now we come back today and it’s got to be a fresh approach, and it’s got to be all about getting a win at UIC.”