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Fran-Graphs, Northwestern


Well, that escalated quickly.  With Iowa playing its patented butter-soft zone to start the game, Northwestern jumped out to a 21-8 lead by the 12:28 mark in the first half thanks to 7-10 three-point shooting.  The Hawks looked frankly inept at defense, scrambling to locate shooters while somehow also leaving no one to box out for the rebound.  Not that Northwestern needed rebounds last night.  In the first half, they shot an eFG% of 81%, made 10 threes, and scored a whopping 48 points.  Coach McCaffery finally abandoned the zone with about 10 minutes left in the first half, but by that point the game was effectively over.  Man-to-man seemed to cause Northwestern a little bit more difficulty (although they did burn us on a few back-cuts for layups), but Northwestern was able to take their foot off the gas so early that you shouldn't read too much into the last 30 minutes of the game.

There's not much more to say.  Our offense was no great shakes once again, but it was the defense that allowed the game to get out of reach.  For whatever reason, zone is not something we do well.  Too often one of our defenders will rotate to follow a pass and forget that, oh yeah, the guy who passed it is still standing on the three-point line.

Stray observations:

  • Northwestern has the most fun names of any team to say: Ivan Peljusic, Mike Capocci, Alex Marcotullio, Davide Curletti, Luka "son of Alexander" Mirkovic.  I think the announcer was enjoying himself.
  • I know we're not the highest priority team for the Big Ten, but these refs were not of the highest quality.  And it was not that they were biased against us, it was more like they had a rare form of visual aphasia that prevented them from seeing certain basketball actions, like a player taking three steps or carrying the ball.  In one short sequence in the second half, the refs 1) missed an obvious travel, 2) called a jump-ball when no one on either team was holding the ball, and 3) ignored an Iowa player plainly kicking the ball.  Oliver Sacks is planning on writing his next book on the three-man refereeing team, entitled "The Men Who Mistook a Walk for a Hat."
  • Bryce Cartwright did have a good game, getting to the rim at will in the second half and scoring 25 points.  But again, the game was out of reach and Northwestern clearly wasn't pressing as hard by that point.