Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Congratulations to the Northwestern hoops team for beating #18 Minnesota in their first win over a ranked opponent since the Vedran Vukusic era, when Northwestern defeated Iowa, which incidentally was not this game. Carmody and assistant coach, former NU starter, and headband enthusiast Tavaris Hardy have put together an exciting young team that can put up points. Scoring for Northwestern is an impressive feat because Carmody runs his deliberate Princeton offense, which limits scoring chances, leading to the football team memorably outscoring the basketball team on the same day in 2000, and a win over Purdue by the ghastly score of 40-39 over Purdue in 2004 (take a look at the box score from that game. No Northwestern player scored in double figures, and the 'Cats made no free throws in the entire game, with no player even attempting more than one freebie. Purdue's Kenneth Lowery scored 20, which astonishingly accounted for more than half of the Boilers' total offensive output).
If the Princeton offense were an animal, it would be the hippopotamus, docilely lazing about in rivers or mudpits before springing into violent action in a backdoor cut layup combination.
A typical Princeton play. Incidentally, the hippo
is one of the most deadly animals on the planet,
supposedly causing more carnage than sharks,
crocodiles, and truckasauruses. I've been
unable to successfully unearth a species-by-species
breakdown of animal related human deaths,
although it would probably end with a statistic
showing man as nature's most savage killer did I
totally just blow your mind right there or what
AN NU HOOPS PRIMER
Northwestern's basketball program is even more futile than its football team, which is a fairly impressive feat considering the football team's pre-1995 historical ineptitude. Northwestern has never gone to the NCAA tournament, and has only reached the postseason three times. The 'Cats have, of course, won Big Ten Championships in 1931 in 1933, although in those lean times Northwestern was able to win games by bribing referees with bindles full of stew.
Northwestern's Big Ten Championship basketball
Northwestern has had five All-Americans in basketball, most notably legendary quarterback Otto Graham. Perhaps Graham's two-way success can inspire more cross-sport participation because I'd like to see the football team stocked with gangly 6'9" guys and former Yugoslavians.
The 2008-9 'Cats are led by Senior 3-point specialist Craig Moore and spindly forward Kevin Coble, who desperately needs a nickname like "The Mantis" in order to further intimidate opponents who are already rattled by the support of thousands of visiting fans in the friendly confines of Welsh-Ryan Arena. Failing that, he can just go by apparent Illinois default nickname "Juice," which has been taken by point guard Michael Thompson, Illinois quarterback Isiah Williams, and Russian Lit professor Gary Saul Morson. My favorite player on the team is gigantic freshman center Kyle Rowley, who at 7 feet and 280 pounds fills up the lane like two Aaron Jennings or multiple Vince Scotts.
Kyle Rowley (left) and Kevin Coble combine power and
finesse in Northwestern's frontcourt
Hopefully, Rowley will give Northwestern the sort of physical big man they've been lacking since former Duke transfer Mike Thompson did not pan out (not to be confused with current point guard Michael "Juice" Thompson-- I apologize for the whirlwind of Mikes and Thompsons and Juices, but I've included a diagram to straighten everything out).
Fig. 1: Figuring out what the hell was going on in that last paragraph
So far, Northwestern is 1-4 in conference play, including a strong first half against powerhouse Michigan State, two heartbreaking losses coming off blown leads against Purdue and Penn State, and an absolute stinker against Wisconsin, where Northwestern's basketball team did a passable impression of virtually every Northwestern basketball team with the exception of the 1930s Hooverville Heroes. Let's hope that the 'Cats can pull out a big upset at Michigan State tomorrow night and maybe get some NIT momentum.