In this week’s edition of Joe’s Corner, Joe Misulonas looks at the important roles point guards Dave Sobolewski and Karly Roser will need to play for the Northwestern basketball programs to have success both this year and in the years to come.
Joe’s Corner: There’s Something About the Point Guards
Physicist Niels Bohr once said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
Last week in this column, I made the ridiculous suggestion that it was possible for Northwestern to make the NCAA Tournament. I never said I predicted they would make it, only that it was possible.
The next day they lost to Nebraska. I should point out that if you read that column, I said Northwestern could lose one of their four games against Purdue, Nebraska, and Penn State and still make the Tournament. However, we can all agree that whatever glimmer of hope we had for March Madness this year has fallen by the wayside.
This means it is time to look to the future (even if my friend Niels would say that is impossible). And there are two people involved in Northwestern basketball that can shape the future of their respective teams.
I’m referring to Dave Sobolewski and Karly Roser.
The point guard is the most important position in basketball. They run the offensive and are the motor of the offense. While a post player can have an athletic advantage over their defender, if the point guard can’t get them the ball, then that advantage is taken away.
Sobolewski and Roser are both highly talented. What Sobo lacks in defensive ability, he makes up for in his offensive efficiency. And while Roser turns the ball over too often, she also is a great playmaker, part of the reason she is second in the Big Ten in assists.
Roser and Sobolewski also share a common weakness: hesitation. Roser is a great athlete, and she can run circles around most guards that defend her. She has the highest field goal percentage on the team, yet she is only fifth in points. She is too willing to pass up open jump shots in order to set up her teammates. Considering that the team is shooting 31% from beyond the arc, she shouldn’t be too afraid of taking an open three now and then (she’s only taken nine the entire season).
Sobolewski has the same problem. He’s not willing to put a team on his shoulders and try to take over a game. And we know he’s has the ability to. Against Nebraska last Saturday he put up 21 points. Sobo leads the team in 3-pt field goal percentage, and has the ability to create shots off the dribble (although this can be limited depending on the athleticism of his defender).
For Northwestern to have success, they are going to need Sobolewski and Roser to abandon their reluctance to take risks. This is especially true of Roser, who will be losing Kendall Hackney and Dannielle Diamant, two of Northwestern’s top three scorers. With a young and inexperienced team next season, Roser will have to step up and take a leadership role on the team. Not only by effectively running the point, but also by taking the scoring load off the shoulders of her younger teammates.
For Sobolewski, the need for scoring won’t be as dramatic. Despite losing leading scorer Reggie Hearn, Northwestern will be bringing back Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb, as well as adding highly touted recruit Jaren Sina. Northwestern won’t be relying so heavily on Sobolewski to score. However, given Crawford and Cobb’s inconsistency throughout their Northwestern careers, as well as the fact that Sina will have to adapt to Big Ten basketball, Sobo will need to step up during close games. He can bring a consistency to Northwestern next season if he’s willing to take on that burden.
It is too early to predict how either of the Northwestern basketball teams will do next season, but I am confident that if they are to be successful next season, Sobolewski and Roser will have to play a major role.