Initial thoughts on Northwestern's 93-67 loss to Iowa.
1. The Positives: Alex Olah and JerShon Cobb (before they fouled out)
Alex Olah was a favorite of the announcers, and although they may have exaggerated his abilities a little bit, the premise was correct: the Wildcats have to get an inside presence going to have success. After impressive games against Wisconsin and Michigan, Olah was efficient once again against Iowa. We wrote about his improvement in late December, and he's continued the positive trend. His development will be one of the most important things to watch this season, and he needs to get the ball more.
Cobb also had a decent game after some issues early, finishing with 18 points (though he wasn't very efficient) and 7 rebounds. He came out an shot well out of the half, but it wasn't nearly enough. Still, he improved after a rough start to Big Ten play.
2. Where is Crawford?
Drew Crawford is supposed to be NU's best player, but he has had a rough start to Big Ten play and that continued tonight. Despite decent scoring efforts, Crawford was inefficient against Wisconsin and Michigan, earning offensive ratings of 90 and 86, respectively. He had 12 points against tonight, but was just 5-for-12 shooting with 4 turnovers and 2 rebounds . That simply can't happen for a player who Chris Collins said needs to score combine with Cobb to score at least 30 or 40 points for the team to win.
It wasn't only scoring today: Crawford got a technical foul for jawing and didn't make an impact defensively. He has to be better for the Wildcats to win or even be competitive, especially against top teams like Iowa.
3. Finding something on offense
I understand not running the Princeton. It wouldn't make any sense running Bill Carmody's offense. However, I don't understand the refusal to run anything this team can be successful with. Collins said before the season that the Wildcats will try to cut in order to get the ball inside, but they haven't done that so far this year (more on that in a post later this week). This tweet from @RiseNU sums it up nicely:
The Wildcats couldn't get anything going offensively against Iowa's length, and the story will be the same against the rest of the Big Ten if things don't change. NU can't go iso or come up with empty pick-and-rolls and expect to be effective offensively. It's going to take some creativity — and perhaps some more cuts — for the Wildcats to win.