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Northwestern basketball: assessing preseason perceptions

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Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

With Northwestern having the week off for exams, it's time to take a step back and review the season's first month in light of preseason expectations. What were we right about? What were we wrong about?

Overall, this team is about what I expected it to be. It's good but not great defensively, and bad but not pathetic offensively. If I were asked to amend my pre-season win/loss prediction, I'd probably keep it the same. But that doesn't mean all of my preseason perceptions about individual players have been proven true. In fact, many of them have been proven false.

What I was right about

1. Vic Law is struggling

Law looked better on Saturday against Butler, but he's generally been frustrating to watch, especially offensively. He hasn't looked very potent with the ball in his hands. I was worried about his offensive game and how unrefined it was, and was interested to see how he would cope when matched physically and athletically. So far, he hasn't coped very well. There's still plenty of time to grow though, so no need to panic.

2. JerShon Cobb doesn't look like himself

Everybody within the program was positive publicly about Cobb's health and his prospects for this year, but I was always skeptical. The way Collins talked, it seemed as if he still felt he had to remain extremely cautious with his senior guard, and now, it seems that everybody is resigned to Cobb not being at 100 percent. On the court, Cobb already looks worn down even though we are only eight games in, and he looks devoid of any kind of explosiveness.

3. Alex Olah is Northwestern's best offensive option

Okay, his inconsistency is maddening, and through eight games, he probably hasn't played as well as many would've hoped. But periodically, he has also shown that he can be Northwestern's go-to guy. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding despite occasionally disappearing from games, and during the second half of the Georgia Tech game, he was nearly unstoppable. Olah needs to be the focal point of Northwestern's offense.

What I was wrong about

1. Bryant McIntosh is the real deal

It's not that I thought McIntosh wasn't the real deal. I just thought he wouldn't be right away. I thought he would have some trouble adapting to the physicality of the college game -- which, to be fair, isn't conclusively wrong just yet -- and I thought Collins would be reticent to lean on him so much early in his career. That hasn't been the case. The freshman has played more minutes than any other Northwestern player, and he often looks like the most confident and most comfortable player on the court. He still has work to do defensively, but he's one of NU's top contributors right now.

2. Tre Demps has taken a step back

I was of the belief that Demps was ready to take another step forward -- perhaps he could even be Northwestern's second best player. But so far, he's been even less efficient than he was in his freshman year. Demps is actually the team's second-leading scorer, but he's taken a higher percentage of shots than any other NU player, and his assist rate is way down. The offense too often screeches to a halt whenever he touches the ball, as he seems physically unable of touching the ball without taking 10 dribbles.

3. Dave Sobolewski is a non-factor

After having an offseason to reflect on his disastrous junior year and correct some of the now-evident flaws in his game, I thought Sobolewski would be able to carve out a niche for himself on this team. But it seems that he hasn't. He's played sparingly, and when he is on the court, he looks no better than he did last year.