Northwestern: My Thoughts
Saturday afternoon the Indiana Hoosiers improved to 6-2 overall, and 1-0 in the Big10 with a 68-66 win against the Northwestern Wildcats.
To say it was a hard fought game would be an understatement. It was basically back and forth from the opening tip with neither team being able to sustain a run long enough to give them any real breathing room.
Indiana could have possibly done so had they not continued to miss free throws at a rate that is going to end up costing them a game or two this season if it is not corrected. They finished the game 11-19 (57.9%) from the charity stripe, and that is simply not going to get it done in the future. One has to believe that the biggest issue is concentration. None of these kids are necessarily knock down shooters, but they are not bad shooters either. Of course are only concern is Indiana, but poor free throw shooting is a pretty common theme these days in college basketball. Free throws may not get you on Sports Center, but it will win or lose games more often than a highlight reel dunk will.
It was an edge of your seat roller coaster type game. An old fashion Big10 game where two teams battled every possession. Although the referee’s seemed to be doing everything they could to take away from a pretty good battle.
Now, I’m not one to blame the refs very often, and missing a call here and there is one thing, but this wasn’t missing a call or two. No, this was borderline obscene. It’s almost a given anymore that there will be a few head scratching calls in a game, but today there were more than a few “WTH?” calls. To the point that you almost had to question whether or not the referees were watching the same game I was from Press Row.
The players need to learn to not let it effect them but in this game, at times, I thought it did.
Indiana had few chances to possibly fold, none more so than when senior leader Juwan Morgan crumpled to the ground with a leg injury with about 3:00 minutes to go in the game. He had to be helped off of the floor and never returned. But led by freshman Romeo Langford, the Hoosiers made some big plays down the stretch and found a way to win. He led the Hoosiers with 20pts. and 5rebs. Morgan had a double double with 17pts. and 12rebs. before he exited with his injury.
Zach McRobert and Devonte Green are both slowly working themselves back into game shape and both contributed today. Truthfully, everyone who played contributed something positive. Although Al Durham’s foul trouble did limit what was shaping up to be a pretty game by the sophomore.
And Justin Smith continues to struggle. His confidence has taken a hit and it’s effecting his entire game. He doesn’t look comfortable at all right now on either end of the floor. One has to wonder, or at least I do, if when McRoberts is back at full strength, if having Smith be the first forward off of the bench wouldn’t maybe help him see the flow of the game from the bench rather trying to adjust to it from the get go. Remember, he played well off of the bench last year.
This wasn’t a stellar performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a step in the right direction. A win in the Big10, especially at home, because you HAVE to protect home court, is always a good win. Some people want better results, even inside of a win, immediately. And I respect that. But I also like seeing growth and improvement in a team. Even more so when it follows up what was an obvious step backwards on Wednesday night against Duke, and I think we saw that on Saturday.
Tuesday night they’re back in action on the road against Penn State, which will not be an easy task. The Big10 is loaded this year. There are no easy games. This team is growing up before our eyes and I think they will have a good showing against the Nittany Lions. But for now, I’m going to enjoy them being 1-0 in the conference.