Four inches of a height won't be all that Northwestern loses if Jeremy Nash replaces Kevin Coble, as it appears from this recent NUsports.com article might be the case. Nash and Coble are two very different players. One is a senior forward that was expected to be one of the top players in the Big Ten, the other is a senior guard whose role was supposed to be that of defensive spark plug off the bench. Those differences are why the Wildcats will need to look for other options.
As I wrote yesterday, I don't think inserting Nash into the starting lineup is the best decision. Ivan Peljusic seems a more logical fit for the team, it's system and how the flow of a game normally progresses. Nash is at his best as a defensive disruptor, he forces a ton of turnovers and plays very stingy defense, but beyond that he's very limited offensively and he'll force his teammates into difficult situations at the end of the shot clock. Taking someone like Coble - who used a large chunk of Northwestern's possessions last season - and replacing him with Nash - who is at best a complimentary player - means that an even heavier burden will be hoisted upon Michael Thompson, Luka Mirkovic and John Shurna.
Let's break the numbers down a bit to see why Peljusic might be a better fit. Peljusic might've been Northwestern's best rebounder last season. When he was on the court the then sophomore forward grabbed 18.3 percent of the defensive rebound available. That figure led the team. Also, on the offensive end Peljusic grabbed 7.3 percent of the available offensive rebounds, just behind Mirkovic (8.2%) and Shurna (7.6%). While Peljusic's per game rebounding numbers weren't very high, it's just because he wasn't playing as many minutes as some of the other Wildcats. For comparison, Coble's percentages last seasons were 15.5% on the defensive end and 2.7% on the offensive end.
While he's a very good rebounder, Peljusic does have his flaws. He turns the ball over way too often. Going from Coble to Peljusic would probably cause Northwestern to cough up the ball a few more times a game, but Peljusic would give the Wildcats another scoring forward. This would allow Mirkovic and Shurna to remain in the roles they've prepared to play all off season next to Coble.
Sure, Nash could come in and Shurna could go to the low post, but that's not where his maximum value is. Shurna is at his best combining both his inside and outside game. Inserting Peljusic into the lineup allows Northwestern to continue to have that continuity.
The ironic thing about this situation is that the reason this rotation is possible is the recovery of another Northwestern player from a foot injury. Starting Peljusic only makes sense if Kyle Rowley is ready to play again. Rowley injured his foot in the off-season, but he's been practicing with the team and I was told he could've played a few minutes during the Robert Morris game. If he's back, then Northwestern has the front court depth to start Peljusic. There are times when the Wildcats might want to go smaller with Jeff Ryan coming into play a forward position, but starting Peljusic gives Carmody the most flexibility with his veteran players.
Carmody might want to start the veteran Nash, but he should resist that urge and go for continuity. Let's see what Peljusic can really do.