Monday, December 30, 2013

DePaul Debacle

DePaul 57, Northwestern 56 (72 possessions)


Scoring Efficiency


NU
DePaul
PPP
0.78
0.79
P/FGA
1.06
1.00
TS%
43.80%
40.27%



Four Factors


NU
DePaul
eFG%
39.62%
37.72%
TO%
20.83%
19.44%
OReb%
17.07%
26.67%
FTA/FGA
43.40
50.88



Misc. Components


NU
DePaul
3P%
33.33%
10.00%
2P%
31.03%
42.55%
FT%
60.87%
48.28%
Block%
17.24%
12.77%
Steal%
13.89%
9.72%



Style Components


NU
DePaul
3PA/FGA
45.28
17.54
A/FGM
76.47
61.90



Point Distribution


NU
DePaul
3-Pts
42.86%
5.26%
2-Pts
32.14%
70.18%
FTs
25.00%
24.56%


Ugly game. Ugly loss. I'd rather not think too much about this game, but I do want to make a few points on how I see this game relating to the overall season to date.

NU continues to send other teams to the line far too often, but NU continues to reap the benefits of the nation’s 7th-ranked FT defense. NU’s opponents are converting only 61.9% of their FTAs, and DePaul was even worse at 48.28%. Had the Blue Demons hit their season average, the ‘Cats would have lost this game by at least six.

Tre Demps was just about the lone bright spot for the ‘Cats. Whether he’s simply making a leap from freshman to sophomore or benefitting from the coaching change, he’s by far NU’s most improved player. It’s not a stretch to call him the most consistently effective offensive player on the team.

Drew Crawford had his worst non-injury-shortened game of the year. For much of the game he seemed slow and tentative to me, and I wonder whether back spasms continue to hamper him.

Chris Collins’ player rotations baffle me. Only Crawford’s 30+ min/game and Demps’ steadily increasing playing time make sense. Otherwise, it seems like the coaches have no idea how to use the roster effectively.

Credit where it’s due: Collins has been willing to employ some zone defense. His switch to a 2-3 against DePaul hampered the Blue Demons’ interior offense late in the game. I would expect to see a lot more of this during conference play.

The Big Ten Geeks give NU’s non-con performance an F: “Long story short—this is a team with a lot of sophomores that added impact players Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb from last year’s team, and it isn’t any better for it.”

The primary reason for that entirely justified F grade is that, as a team, the offense is atrocious. On message boards and Twitter there continues to be sniping amongst NU fans about Bill Carmody versus Collins and Princeton Offense versus the non-offense of Collins. I think this misses the mark somewhat. There aren’t only two offensive styles in the basketball universe. NU doesn’t necessarily need to fall back on Carmody’s sets to succeed, but it does need to play more of a team-oriented offense. I get that Collins has a vision for the offense that relies on individual ability and athleticism, but he doesn’t have the roster he needs for that right now and the team is suffering for it. A better coach would make a more concerted effort to adjust; I haven’t seen anything to suggest he’s willing or able to do that. Some fans seem to think things will be much better next season with Collins’ heralded first recruiting class. I remain skeptical. As nice as that class is, it is still only middle-of-the B1G at best in overall quality. In a conference stacked with both player talent and coaching heavyweights, Collins is going to have get a lot better as an actual basketball coach very quickly. Just being a good recruiter won’t be enough.


Worst Non-con Performance Since 2007-2008

NU’s 7-6 record with no good wins and at least two bad losses (Illinois State and DePaul) puts the ‘Cats at 125th in the KenPom rankings entering B1G play. The last time NU finished the non-con slate in such poor shape was the 2008 season when the ‘Cats were 5-4. That team was easily the worst of the Carmody era. It won just one game in a relatively soft B1G and finished the year 192nd in the KenPom rankings. KenPom only lists game-by-game rankings as far back as the 2010 season, but you can see how this year has been the worst in recent memory:

Season
KenPom Rank entering conference play
2014
125
2013
86
2012
60
2011
48
2010
56


Considering that this year's B1G is once again the toughest conference in the land, this year has a real chance to be worse than Carmody's worst seasons. Based on Collins' public pre-season statements about his intended offensive and defensive styles, I thought this year would be rough, but I really didn't expect this. We could be witnessing the worst season of Northwestern basketball since Kevin O'Neill's final year (1999-2000).


Mike Turner Officially Transferring

NU quietly announced Mike Turner's intention to transfer on Saturday. To me (and others), this was a foregone conclusion when Turner's "leave of absence" was announced in September. I noted on an NU message board that this smelled like a "Creaning" to me, and several other posters pilloried me, suggesting that Collins would surely welcome Mike back once he got his house in order. This was a ridiculous sentiment at the time, given that the coaches publicly smeared Mike through Teddy Greenstein. There was a tweet and a Tribune report that questioned Mike's "attitude and work ethic". The Trib article was later amended to remove Collins' name as the source of the questions, but the internet often preserves these things.



I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see one or even two more players pushed out, and I'm far from the only person who thinks this.

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