Northwestern is playing some really good offense lately. During their current three-game winning streak, the Wildcats are averaging 80.3 points per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the field, including 46.1 percent from 3-point range. Four different NU players are averaging at least
15 points per game during the stretch: John Shurna (23.0), Dave Sobolewski (17.3), Reggie Hearn (15.0) and Drew Crawford (15.0).
The win streak has coincided with Northwestern going with a starting lineup of Sobolewski, Hearn, Crawford, Shurna and Alex Marcotullio. This is the first time that NU has started the month of February with three consecutive wins since 1946. As they take on the Purdue Boilermakers this Sunday, they’re looking college basketball heavyweights North Carolina and Duke…on the offensive end. (The defensive end still has some issues). And the ‘Cats are getting it done with a very unique system, the Princeton offense, which we don’t see as much anymore. And of course the Princeton offense runs most smoothly when you get back door cuts.
Northwestern opponents should indeed worry about getting back-doored, the back door cuts contributed immensely to pulling off their signature win versus #6 Michigan State. NU was consistently able to get penetration to the whole versus MSU.
It was mostly the freshmen and Valparaiso transfer Brandon Wood who got beat on the back door cuts. The veterans knew how to stop from getting back-doored. Sophomore guard Keith Appling talked about the anxiety of getting back-doored.
“In the back of our minds, the whole time guys were kind of worried about getting back-doored. So we just wanted to stay as solid as we possibly could, sometimes it works sometimes it didn’t,” he said.
So what’s the key to not getting beat on the back-side cuts that often lead to easy lay-ups?
“You can never relax, because at any given point in any given game, someone can cut back, and you just gotta be in a defensive stance and always ready to snap your neck,” Appling responded.
The win ranks as a tie for the highest ranked opponent that the Wildcats have beaten in Bill Carmody’s 12 seasons as head coach. The victory snapped the Spartans’ 15-game winning streak.
“The back door to Northwestern is like a dunk to other people. They’ve done a great job educating their fans, and their players have bought into that,” Sadler said.
“We took that away, but you oughta take both sides away, cuz the back side’s gotta come, but it was in the ball screen that we messed up on, and we never got it fixed for 40 minutes.”
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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