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Northwestern-Ohio State basketball recap: Love that tempo-free

Coach Carmody and the shorthanded 'Cats almost pulled off the great escape. Unfortunately, they were just a couple possessions short.

Jamie Sabau

Probably the crappiest birthday gift I got was finding out that Jared Swopshire was going to be out for the rest of the season. I'm an optimistic dude. But, man, I really had no expectation of us even covering, much less taking it to the Buckeyes for 38 minutes. Let's do the tempo-free take.

Pace and Points per Possession

I used the Worldwide Leader to do the tempo free stats. I had OSU with 56.8 possessions, and NU with 54.2 Let's split it down the middle and round up to 56 possessions.

In terms of efficiency:
'Cats: 1.04
OSU: 1.23

While that OSU number is awful gaudy, it's a bit deceiving given that the Bucks ran up the score at the end when other teams would've run out the clock. Either way, the 'Cats weren't trying to lock down the Bucks as much as bend don't break. Meanwhile, OSU has been only allowing 0.96 PPP in conference (0.87 PPP overall) - Given that it was just Hearn and the kitty 'Cats, that's pretty amazing.

Four Factors

Effective Field Goal Percentage:

'Cats: 57%
OSU: 50%

Turnover Percentage:

'Cats: 12.5%
OSU: 16.1%

Offensive Rebound Percentage:

'Cats: 16%
OSU: 57.1%

Free Throw Attempts/Field Goal Attempts:

'Cats: 6%
OSU: 57.1%

Takes on the Tempo Free:

  • This was the 'Cats best eFG performance in conference (besting the @PSU performance - 55% eFG). 57% is straight elite, but OSU kept pace enough.
  • With the 'Cats in that new 2-3 switchy zone, they weren't up for gambling for steals. On the other hand, the feared steal-magnate Aaron Craft and the OSU defense only forced 7 turnovers. I recall 2 sloppy Marcotullio TOs, but besides that the 'Cats protected the ball well.
  • OREB was the difference maker in that OSU was able to get high percentage putbacks by exploiting their height and athleticism. While the 'Cats have never been great rebounders, this was just too big of a chasm. Hard to hate on our guys - playing only 7 men, and not getting any help from the refs underneath (too many ticky tack calls on us, and too few on them) meant that OSU was gonna crush this.
  • The 'Cats were very perimeter, so I'm not terribly surprised we didn't get to the line. Conversely, OSU did well to work the inside and were able to draw fouls.

The 'Cats "3 Factors"

Savvy Veteran Watch (a.k.a. "How'd Sobo and Reggie do?")

Reggie: 37 m, 12 pts, 4 rebs, 1 ast, 1 TO
Sobo: 40 m, 10 pts, 2 rebs, 2 ast, 2 stl, 1 TO,

Reggie and Sobo logged monster minutes. They both had eFG of 60%. They only had 2 TOs between the both of them. Outside of missing a late layup, it's hard to complain. Our veteran starters were great tonight.

How'd we do at the 5?

Mike Turner: 25 m, 4 pts, 4 reb, 8 ast, 3 TO
Nikola Cerina: 14 m, 2 pts, 2 reb, 1 stl

It would've been nice to get a little more scoring from the 5 (I'm still thinking about that time when Cerina got blocked twice after a great roll to the bucket), but this was a decent showing at the 5. Again, since we have so few possessions, it's a bummer to see Turner with the 3 TOs, but 8 assists along with an improved offensive awareness (slipping to the hoop, and hitting that mid range jumper) provide hope that he will be serviceable. Meanwhile, Cerina wasn't as spry, but at least he was tough. I get the hives watching him try to dribble handoff, but it is what it is. I sure liked his post-up drop step layup. If we can keep getting this kind of 5 play, I'll be content.

Life without Drew and Jershon

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your wing play:
Kale Abe: 34 m, 12 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast
Marco: 16 m, 2 pts, 2 ast, 2 TO
Tre Demps: 32 m, 16 pts, 1 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl

Probably the area that gives me the most hope. Kale and Tre got serious run tonight, and this is what you got:

  • Kale had 69% eFG with 3/5 from distance. He still needs to move his feet better, as well as not take dumb fouls but you can learn that. Watching him take DeShaun Thomas one on one late in the game and drawing the AND 1? That is what Carmody saw in making him a starter earlier this year. Quick release, great fundamentals (I loved seeing him receive the ball in textbook triple threat position ready to fire off a shot or dribble), and confidence. He belongs.
  • Demps was 66% in eFG. He also looked confident with his handle, and he was gunning -4/6 from distance! Remember folks, this is his first go-round in the B1G. Man, it would've been nice to see that floater fall. Also, important - neither Kale or Demps had any TOs tonight. Just impressive given how much they both handled in the offense tonight.

Marco had a tough night offensively. He also had those two bad TOs in the game, which is the downside of his high risk/high reward passing. However, to beat OSU we needed all hands on deck, and we needed him to hit a couple more threes.


  • You'd think that losing back to back games would provide some urgency for OSU, but they just looked lethargic for the first half. I really think they expected just to show up and get handed the W. They were able summon their athleticism and strength to put themselves in position to get putbacks and cheap calls.
  • I don't think I've ever seen the 2-3 with the switching up top. I'm guessing that was there to pack the lane for rebounding, and also keep us out of foul trouble? Given that OSU killed us on the glass, I'm not sure if we see it come back. However, OSU looked stymied by it at points - and they took those open 3s. Perhaps Carmody was just picking his poison knowing they'd get torched (or fouled out) by going man-to-man.
  • I'm trying to think of key moments of the game - I recall us being up 6, and being in transition taking a 3 pointer. I actually liked that take -- it was an open look, and we had been hot. Plus it makes it a 9 point game. The other key part of the game was at around the 10 minute mark when both teams were struggling to score. Somehow, the 'Cats stayed up just by two possessions after all that, but we needed to push it to 3 or 4 possessions to build that cushion.
  • For the rest of the year, it's going to be about making shots and just hoping the defense is enough of a speed bump. I'm convinced that Kale and Tre can gun enough to give us 4 viable 3 point shooters on the court. Will they always hit 66% eFG? Maybe not - but at least these guys look competent from distance.
  • Why I'm not so glum - the kitty 'Cats were productive.
  • Going into tonight, I wasn't that concerned with Carmody's job prospects. For the most part, the team has had good game plans, and have had to adapt to injuries in a very difficult conference year. However, after tonight, for some reason I feel even more secure that Carmody will be back. Maybe I jinxed him, but I think he's done a really good job this year in the face of adversity.
  • Moving forward: ''Cats come home to take on Illinois. I hope the students come out to cheer our boys to protect home court. I still think there is alot to play for - namely keeping that overall winning record. After seeing these guys tonight, I'm convinced that they can play with anyone. However, I'm still very aware that we have the least margin for error in terms of execution.