Wildcat fans might want to get used to being blown away at how terribly inconsistent their team is. Chris Collins’s squad opened up the season with an embarrassing loss to Merrimack but then followed it up with a quality win against Providence. Last night, Northwestern lost by 11 to Radford. To exemplify just how unpredictable the Wildcats are, the Providence team that fell to the Wildcats last week just beat that same Merrimack team by 37 on Tuesday night. If you can explain any of this, please let me know because this is a mind boggling sequence of events.
In all honesty, the optics of this loss to Radford is much worse than what the loss actually is. Northwestern is only eight spots higher than Radford in KenPom’s CBB rankings and could realistically make the NCAA Tournament. Head coach Mike Jones is predicted to win the conference’s Coach of the Year award and point guard Carlik Jones can light it up, evidenced by the 20 points he scored against the Wildcats.
What should really concern Northwestern fans is the team’s inability to stop scoring droughts. The ‘Cats only scored 5 points in the final 16 minutes of the first half, highlighted by an 8-minute scoring drought, and trailed by 14 at half. Throughout the first half, nobody seemed too eager to be the guy to take over their poor excuse of an offense, as they had went into the break with 17 points on 23% shooting. This lack of efficient offense has been a theme for Northwestern teams over the past few seasons. Collins has struggled to develop a system that will create easy looks and it’s becoming harder to blame those struggles on lack of talent. He boasts the most talented roster in program history - certainly more talented than Radford - yet, they struggle to score in a half court set. At some point, Collins needs to scheme his guys into a position to be successful.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Northwestern fans shouldn’t go into many more games expecting a victory. The offense is tough to watch at times and excruciatingly painful at others. There are going to be some bright spots along the way, like Pete Nance putting up another double-double on Tuesday night, but the rest of the season is going to be full of losses and frustration.
Kudos to any loyal Northwestern hoops fans out there for putting up with the losses and let’s hope they can find another hobby, for their own sake.