During our game chats, different fans ask why this or that player isn't doing better, missing shots, or whatever...-- da Coach
Every time I see a kid underperform, I wonder if there's some underlying problem, and injury maybe, that is causing the drop off in play. Northwestern guards player injury info very closely - and NU normally closes the last hour of practice to visitors - the time when the guys go full speed.
Unless a player is wearing a big old cast, NU just doesn't talk about who is playing hurt unless that player volunteers that info, something that few players will do.
So, last Saturday, coach Bill Carmody let slip the news that Sterling Williams had been working through a leg injury. Williams is a pretty quick guy on the court, but seemed to be out of position too many times. Losing a step due to a sore leg will do that to you.
Craig Moore, was recruited as a 3 point bomber who could also play point guard, but started the season with a pretty bad percentage shooting 3's. He opened the season 1 for 5 from the arc and barely made one or two a game until, according to the coach, he "ripped off the ankle brace" prior to the game with Miami.
Moore hit 7 of 10 that night, then followed up with 6 of 9 from 3 point land. All through the preseason there were hints that Moore was having trouble "adjusting" to his 2nd year, that he was just going to have to play through the problems, and I guess once his ankle stopped hurting....
We won't have to comment on Ivan Tolic's knees - that he can play 10 minutes a game is phenomenal based on what I know about tendinitis and how it can slow you down.
Then there was the report that both of the freshman Croatian players plan to redshirt. Early in the preseason, I heard coach Carmody comment that Europeans need to drink more milk growing up - at the time, reports were circulating that both Nikola Baran and Ivan Peljusic were not practicing at 100%.
Illinois and Ohio State have had some very public injuries this year, and while you don't want to make excuses, playing without starters can be tough, especially on the role players who are forced on to the court for more minutes than originally projected.
Fortunately for the Cats, NU has managed to get their dinged up starters on the court and let them work through their injuries while they learn to work together in Bill Carmody's complex offense.
Diehard Northwestern fans have to hope that we've been watching flashes of how good this team can be for the past two weeks.
We also have to hope that that nagging injury bug has moved on to some other team in the Big 10.
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