Northwestern Wildcats Archive
With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Northwestern Wildcats.
Change is afoot in Evanston.
Bill Carmody’s 12-year run of Princeton offense and gimmick zone defense is gone. In comes 39-year-old Chris Collins fresh off a 13-year run as a Duke assistant. It’s a switch that arrives during an emerging time for Northwestern athletics.
Pat Fitzgerald has a bonafide Top 25 football program going. An ambitious $250 million athletics facility on the shores of Lake Michigan has been approved. Though this multi-purpose facility is more football-focused, it’s been said the basketball team will eventually get their own upgrades down the line.
So while Collins won’t have new facilities to sell quite yet, the turnover at the top and a chance to join something new seems to already be paying off in the recruiting world.
Chicagoan and St. Rita hoops star Vic Law gave Collins a verbal commitment in July. Law’s No. 70 ranking in the class of 2014 makes him Northwestern’s first top-75 recruit since Evan Eschmeyer in 1993. Time will tell whether such a recruitment will have a snowball effect or not, but it’s a strong start for a coach and program on a quest for relevance and a first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Law won’t hit campus until next year. And what Northwestern has in its arsenal heading into this season might again mean it’ll be without a ticket to the Big Dance. With the coaching switch, promising incoming freshman point guard Jaren Sina decided to move on to Seton Hall. (Tom Crean and the Indiana program also showed interest in Sina after his de-commitment from Northwestern.)
One of the main storylines to emerge from Indiana’s victory over the Wildcats on Sunday was its handling of Northwestern’s 1-3-1 defense it sprung on the Hoosiers midway through the second half.
Indiana had its issues with it on some possessions. And with the Wildcats hitting on the other end, it allowed them to make things interesting. But there was also enough success from the Hoosiers against it that they kept the lead and won the game.
A look at Indiana’s successes and failures in the latest edition of Film Session:
I. THE TURNOVER
This is the second possession the Wildcats go to the 1-3-1. We see Christian Watford being double-teamed as Yogi Ferrell calls for the ball:
Ferrell receives the ball and is way out beyond the arc:
As the trap comes his way, he has a few options: 1) Jordan Hulls on the opposite side of the court 2) Watford in the middle 3) Will Sheehey down in the right corner:
Following Tuesday’s surprising loss to Wisconsin, Indiana bounced back on Sunday afternoon with a 67-59 win over Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The win moved Indiana, now 4-1 in the conference, into a three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten with the Badgers and Michigan.
· Cody Zeller is picking up the pace in Big Ten play: It’s not that Zeller wasn’t solid in the non-conference schedule — he was — but as IU’s bench has struggled to find its groove in league play, IU’s sophomore center is upping his production. In five Big Ten games, Zeller is averaging 19.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and is shooting 77 percent from the foul line. Still, the uptick in his numbers isn’t registering much, if at all, with Zeller. “I could care less,” Zeller told reporters yesterday. “A win’s a win.” With the Big Ten schedule backloaded with tough games, Indiana needs Zeller to continue to getting to the line (39 free throw attempts in five league games) and working his post game to open up perimeter opportunities.
· Indiana is winning on the road: The competition hasn’t been the stiffest, but the Hoosiers now own road wins over Iowa, Penn State and Northwestern. For some perspective on this, you can look at IU’s final Big Ten road record a season ago: 3-6. And we don’t even need to get into the record away from Assembly Hall the three years prior to that. The overriding point is that even though the wins haven’t been as dominant as some expected, these early wins should help build confidence heading into the remaining road schedule, which includes Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan.
· The bench continues to struggle: Indiana’s bench again provided little in terms of offensive production. The group totaled just six points (all by Will Sheehey) and the Hoosiers currently lack an adequate and trusted backup when Zeller goes to the bench. One encouraging bit of news is that Derek Elston did play, albeit briefly, after practicing for the first time on Friday. Tom Crean said on Monday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference that he expects Elston and Maurice Creek to be available at some point this week and even noted that Creek could have played yesterday, but said that it wasn’t “the time nor place” to put him in the game. As the Big Ten season moves along, the Hoosiers must be able to count on a couple of their bench guys because situations will arise that will require them to do so.
EVANSTON, Ill. — Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 67-59 win over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon.
Watch and listen to his postgame comments in the embedded media player below:
Quotes after the jump.
EVANSTON, Ill. — Cody Zeller (21 points, 13 rebounds), Christian Watford (14 points, six rebounds) and Jordan Hulls (15 points) met with the media following Indiana’s 67-59 win at Northwestern on Sunday afternoon.
Watch and listen to both press conferences in the embedded media players below:
EVANSTON, Ill. — Bill Carmody, Dave Sobolewski and Reggie Hearn met with the media following Northwestern’s 67-59 loss to Indiana on Sunday afternoon.
Watch the press conference in the embedded media player below:
Thoughts on a 67-59 win over the Wildcats:
First things first. Indiana is 3-0 on the road in the Big Ten. While it’s easy to pick apart the mistakes this team has made in second halves, particularly in Big Ten play, it’s important to recognize this team is 16-2 overall and 4-1 in the country’s toughest conference.
Early on, Indiana established control despite not playing its best offensively for the first 20 minutes. That’s because the Hoosiers held the Wildcats to 7-of-23 shooting from the field in the first half. Besides Reggie Hearn, Northwestern barely showed up in the first half on its way to 17 points.
Christian Watford was a big reason why Indiana was able to open up a lead of as many as nine points less than six minutes in the game. The senior from Birmingham was hot early on, scoring seven of IU’s first nine points. It seems Indiana has been looking to get Watford going early in games and today was no exception. He finished with 11 points and four boards in the first half.
Cody Zeller also picked back up the strong play he showed in the first half against Wisconsin as he pulled down eight first-half rebounds, three of the offensive variety. Victor Oladipo also had three offensive rebounds in the first half and the combined effort of Zeller and Oladipo led to the Hoosiers posting a 43.8 offensive rebounding percentage before intermission.
But with a 14-point at the half, the question looming in everybody’s mind was this: Would Indiana put Northwestern away or allow the Wildcats to claw their way back in?
It took a while to come to fruition as the Hoosiers led 45-29 with 11:09, but thanks to a 1-3-1 zone defense that Indiana couldn’t solve, Northwestern made a run. The lead dwindled all the way down to five at 47-42 at the 6:48 mark on a layup by Hearn and it became clear that Indiana would either answer the call or let this game go all the way down to the wire.
Fortunately for IU, Zeller was there to make a play, just as he did for most of the afternoon.
His layup with 6:20 to go stretched the lead back to seven and he followed that with an tip-in of a missed runner by Jordan Hulls to make the cushion nine points. Northwestern never got closer than five the rest of the way and Zeller finished with team-highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds.