as much as Stephen Bardo annoys me sometimes - and I'm getting tired of him doing EVERY 'Cats appearance on espn - he accurately described Northwestern's performance last night when he said, "They just lack." last night NU looked like boys among men and got run out of the gym by the hot-shooting Illini.
as some have already pointed out
, starting the conference 0-3 is not the end of the world, and if NU finished fifth behind Purdue, MSU, Illinois (plus OSU) I think we'd all be thrilled. but there wasn't anything encouraging to take from last night's loss. either Bardo, Wischusen, or Dan Dakich
must have used the phrase "lack of effort" fifty times, and certainly a lot of fans are jumping on that theme today. it doesn't help that this performance came on the heels of LTP's thorough post
yesterday that included this from a list of BC complaints:
Carmody’s antics on the sideline. Last game he threw his hands at Shurna in disgust after he missed a FT. His pouting and borderline unprofessional demeanor on the sidelines isn’t exactly the type of stuff “leaders” (or is it “legends”?) are made of.
at least one semi-casual fan asked me last night about BC and his apparent inability to inspire his team. to me, the larger question/problem is: is this team any good?
effort or not, Northwestern did not come close to matching the orange's talent level last night. the same was evident in West Lafayette last week. if i didn't know better, i'd have thought i was watching a Wildcat roster from about five years ago
; that's how crappy our players looked.
Shurna's injury is obviously killing them, and i'm not sure the other players are good enough to make up for his absence. early in the game it was clear that Juice was forcing shots, and i'm sure he feels pressure to make up for the loss of Shurna's offense. the impact of his injury was even more profound on defense. about seven minutes in, McCamey hit an easy three when Shurna was slow to close out on him. on the next possession, Shurna seemed to make an extra effort to get out on McCamey on the same spot on the floor, but a simple pass led to another easy three by Brandon Paul with Shurna well out of the play.
i assume Jim Phillips attended the game, which for Carmody is a good thing, since the early part of the second half amounted to a twenty minute bash-fest of NU players and coaches. NU looked like the Washington Generals as Illinois passed circles around them to get seemingly dozens of lobs and dunks. that this was going on while the announcers called out the team for lack of desire and not being ready to play - while on a major network broadcast - is probably an athletic director's worst nightmare.
again, i'm not going to lose my mind because NU has lost three games (two on the road) to very good teams. let's remember that what killed NU's bubble chances last year was not losing to Michigan State at home or to Illinois on the road, both of which happened. it was going 2-4 in February against Penn State, Indiana and Iowa. those teams were not any good last year, and they're not any good this year. if NU loses a game next week, then i guess the Wildcats are not any good either.