Thoughts on Northwestern's 74-51 loss to Michigan
1. Finding consistency
Consistency is obviously going to be tough to come by for Northwestern this year, but the Wildcats have to get complete performances by at least some of their players in order to win games. Drew Crawford had 13 points in the first half, but only had four points in the second half after the game was no longer in doubt, and he was pretty inefficient overall, finishing 6-14 on field goals, 2-8 on three-point field goals, and with two rebounds and four turnovers. Nobody else game him any help. Tre Demps had a rough game, shooting-wise, Sanjay Lumpkin bounced back with a nice rebounding performance but couldn't score and JerShon Cobb had a bad game overall. Alex Olah was decent, but he can't carry the team. Simply put, for NU to win, everything is going to have to come together. That didn't happen today.
2. Positives from the first half
The first half against Michigan might be the best half Northwestern has played in awhile relative to the competition. Even though the shots weren't falling, they moved the ball well on offense, making the extra pass to get the ball inside or find an open player beyond the arc. For most Northwestern teams — usually full of shooters — those shots would have gone in. So while the first half was rough offensively, there were signs that it could have been a lot better if NU had better shooters. That's progress, even if it's miniscule.
Defensively, things got out of hand in the middle of the second half, but the Wildcats were effective in the first half. They closed out on three-point shooters and did a good job helping on pick-and-rolls. You could argue that was the best defensive half NU has had against KenPom top 100 competition.
3. More random thoughts
- Dave Sobolewski had no points again today. He did have four assists, but @BigTenGeeks had an interesting tweet today. Will Sobo keep his job? Obviously he can be excused for some growing pains in Chris Collins' system, but you have to wonder if he'll eventually get pulled if this kind of play continues.
- Nikola Cerina played well in the first half off the bench. If he can add a spark in NU's frontcourt, especially defensively, the Wildcats' chances of winning will improve.
- Aaron Liberman became the first player to wear a yarmulke in a Big Ten game NU in 2014 — breaking records.