That was never more evident than in Saturday’s 18-point rout of NIT one-seed Boston College. In the win, Northwestern featured all five starters in double-figures for just the second time this season (Georgia Tech being the first).
The win displayed what was seemingly the perfect performance for Bill Carmody’s Wildcats. The Wildcats shot 54.8% from the field, while posting 85 points on the scoreboard, and 45 of those points coming from beyond the arc on their 15 three-pointers. Most importantly, Northwestern completely controlled the tempo of the game, by out-shooting the Golden Eagles, 62-46. The Wildcats also out-rebounded Boston College by nine, and ten offensive rebounds.
It has been a season of inconsistencies, but Northwestern is finally playing to their capabilities. On offense, the ‘Cats are setting up good looks, and making their open shots. On defense, they are playing with intensity, and are making necessary adjustments when those adjustments are required.
Dating back to the Wisconsin game, Bill Carmody has had to make some adjustments to his starting-five, and rotation. The loss of Jershon Cobb brought Mike Capocci to the starting lineup, and has given Alex Marcotullio, Davide Curletti and Nick Fruendt some meaningful minutes and a more significant role—something which neither player has seen consistently. When Capocci suffered a concussion prior to the Big Ten Tournament, Carmody had to make another adjustment, bringing Marcotullio to the shooting guard position.
The sophomore guard from Warren, Michigan has been a key role player throughout his two years with the Wildcats, but this is his first chance to make a consistent impact with consistent minutes, and Marcotullio has delivered.
Marcotullio has shined with his big chance, averaging 12.4 points per game in the past five games. In addition, he has been a pest at the top of the Wildcats’ often-used 1-3-1 defense, which has given the guard 10 steals in the past five games.
But Marcotullio is making his biggest impact by just being on the court.
His presence brings that added scoring threat on offense, which opposing coaches must make note of. During the past five games, which Marcotullio has seen an increased roles, he has drained 13 three-pointers. In those games, the Wildcats have averaged 10.6 three-pointers per game.
It’s no coincidence that in those five games, Northwestern has received a major boost in offense from their often-inconsistent starting-five. John Shurna is back to form with three-straight games with more than 20 points. Fellow forward Drew Crawford has also seen a recent boost in production, finishing with double-digit scoring in four of his last five games, while becoming a major weapon as a slasher.
Marcotullio is bringing Bill Carmody’s ‘Cats that added threat which makes their offense great instead of good. On defense, Marcotullio has brought a tough challenge to the opposition, posing as a tough defender, and a ball-hawk to watch out for.
Most importantly, the Wildcats are playing their best all-around basketball of the season at the right time. With two-straight wins in the NIT, Northwestern is looking to continue this historic season all the way to New York City.
With their recent adjustments to the rotation, the Wildcats are reaching their potential on offense and defense, and are quickly becoming a very tough team to beat.