In this week’s edition of Kis This, Zack Kisfalusi tries to find the reasons behind Northwestern’s continued offensive struggles.
This Northwestern team has reached a new low after getting beat down on Sunday by the Purdue Boilermakers. With no one scoring in double digits, the offensive struggles continued for the entire team as even Reggie Hearn started forcing shots in the first half as he felt the game starting to slip away from the ‘Cats. In the last three games, Northwestern has scored 41, 41 and 43 points against two tournament teams and another young struggling team. This is no product of the system or players, yet proves the fact that this team is mentally defeated before each player even steps on the floor. The body language is slumping, the shot selection is questionable, and at times the overall effort on the floor is indicative of a demoralized team.
I have never been one to feel bad for an athletic team when in competition but this is getting ugly quick as the Wildcats still have games against Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State. The youth on this team has not taken full advantage of the injuries and increased playing time to further their progress as college basketball players in the Big Ten. After a tremendous game against the Buckeyes a few weeks ago, Northwestern fans hope the team can recapture that magic and give the highly ranked Ohio State a great game in Evanston once again. Personally, a close loss is a victory for me at this point in the season with some small details to be seen including better defense from Kale Abrahamson, more aggression from Alex Olah, more vision from Dave Sobolewski, less forcing from Hearn, and a relentless mentality from Tre Demps.
I may sound like a doubter of this team or some kind of traitor who does not think we can win this Thursday but instead I think of my comments as a way to counter-act the recent play with small victories.
The analysis from the last few games is not that deep and lacks relevance to the future of the Wildcats both this season and next. At 13-15 overall, the Cats have fallen from their recent success of 4 straight NIT appearances and look to finish their season in Chicago at the B1G tournament as they currently are the 11 seed. If there is a take away from the last few games, it is what has caused this dramatic lack of offensive production? One possible explanation is the loss of Jared Swopshire and his rebounding efforts on the defensive end, limiting the opposition’s second chance points. Another is that the numerous minutes Sobolewski and Hearn have played this season may have finally added up to tired legs, thus short jumpers from behind the arc and less energy as the game continues. Maybe, the answer is the continuation of injuries and suspensions that have taken away any supposed depth and made this team non-existent if the starters are not in the game. Is it the fact that no one truly scares other team’s defenses, causing them to collapse on Hearn and take away his scoring abilities? If you know the answer, please help the coaching staff and team because honestly I have no clue what else they can do. In the meantime, I am going to put out an APB for the Northwestern offense in hopes the police can find it in time for Thursday’s game.