NORTHWESTERN WON A GAME! AGAINST A PRETTY GOOD TEAM!
WE WON! THE STREAK IS OVER! THE WITCH IS DEAD!— Inside NU (@insidenu) February 15, 2015
Anyway, here are some rapid reactions to the win:
Well they tried not to, but they still did it
The streak is mercifully over. After 10 straight losses, the worst stretch since Kevin O’Neill was still in charge, the streak has finally been broken, and boy, it was anything but easy. Northwestern did everything it could to lose this game. The Wildcats gave up the lead late. They watched as, once again, an opponent hit a buzzer beater that they would make maybe 4 times out of 100. They had to deal with a press that they could not, for the life of them, figure out how to attack.
And yet, they still won. Sure, Iowa shot 32.3 percent from the field. Sure, they shot 65 percent from the foul line. Sure, the Hawkeyes only had one player who hit double figures. Sure, their coach did everything they could to let Northwestern come away with the W. But it is still just that: a W.
Sure, Northwestern isn’t going anywhere this postseason. Heck, they may not even make it out of the cellar of the conference. But this win meant something. Seeing Olah walk off the court to the fans chanting his name after an 11-point, 13-rebound, 5-block beast of a game was fun. And if there’s anything these recent weeks have been, they’ve been not fun. The streak is finally over. We can worry about all the negatives tomorrow.
I genuinely don’t know if NU took its foot off the gas
Sure, down the stretch Northwestern was playing slowly, but the Wildcats were playing slowly more or less all game. Were there too many times where NU had to call an iso with 8 seconds on the shot clock? Probably, yes. But there were only a few possessions where it looked like Northwestern was uninterested in looking for a shot early in the shot clock.
Against such an athletic Iowa team, Northwestern was always going to try and keep it as a halfcourt style game. Northwestern is ranked down in the 300s in tempo this year according to KenPom. While some people still think of Northwestern as a team that likes to push, like what Chris Collins said he wanted to do when he first came to campus, the bottom line is that that’s not them. They will run the shot clock into single digits. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the second half, I don’t know if it was Iowa tightening up, or Northwestern getting a little scared. I just don’t.
Against good teams, your role players need to play well
And boy, today Northwestern’s subs did just that. Dave Sobolewski has been persona non grata this year for Northwestern, as fans have been clamoring for Johnnie Vassar to steal some of the senior’s minutes, but today he proved why he should be on the court. You can always go with the "intangibles" argument of leadership/calming influence/experience, but the bottom line is that Sobolewski can straight shoot it. Last year’s sub-20-percent shooting from 3 was an aberration. He can stretch defenses way out, and in the first half he sunk a couple of big triples off the bench, plus hit the game-icing foul shots in overtime.
Scottie Lindsey too had a big game for Northwestern. After hitting an early 3, his offense cooled off a little bit, but the bottom line is that he can stuff the box score. He had 3 blocks, he had a steal, and he grabbed 6 rebounds. With Vic Law all but invisible due to foul trouble, Lindsey stepped up in a big way for the Wildcats. Gavin Skelly even made a cameo and gave Aaron White the business.
Olah and McIntosh carried the day, but without the role players making serious contributions, there’s no way NU escapes with the W tonight.