Some college basketball faithful may sermonize the need for non-conference early games to you, but really, the games in November don’t mean much. Northwestern hasn’t lost a November game since 2009, and that should tell you all you need to know, really. I suggest everyone wear gray scarves, sunglasses, and black berets to the student section in order to correctly experience the ennui and welträtsel of November basketball.
That all being said, this week Northwestern played and beat four teams that have made the NCAA tournament within my lifetime. None of these are what you call “signature wins,” but hey! 6-0!
The first game this week saw Northwestern win 80-53 against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, who lost their only NCAA Tournament game in Chicago in 2005, playing the Illini. The only highlights were FDU Danish center Mathias Seilund’s constant griping with the referees and 7’2” Chier Ajou’s giraffe-like 7 minutes on the court for NU. Carmody and his assistants tried to communicate a defensive assignment to Chier from the other end of the floor, only to laugh and give up as he failed to notice. Chier got three points and two rebounds regardless.
The Delaware State Hornets came to town next, in a game really only notable for being Crawford’s first good performance since the Texas Southern game.
After that came two games in two days on South Padre Island, on an ugly turquoise court near the Texas-Mexico border. The first game was an easy win against TCU, who came in with a poor offensive reputation and left without a single completed three.
Then, on the same day the football team won the Land of Lincoln Trophy, the basketball team won a trophy of their own against Illinois State. Swopshire and Crawford had good games, and Olah only played nine minutes for some reason, but just like last week, every Wildcat individual performance was overshadowed by a ridiculous game by an opposing player. ISU’s Tyler Brown scored 36 points, including a game-tying three at the end of regulation and a series of increasingly impossible shots from distance in overtime that made me clutch my head and wail like the Edvard Munch painting. It’s as if he wanted to make me feel stupid for talking so much about Davon Usher last week.
Northwestern won the game on free throws (23-27 against Illinois State’s 10-20) and they needed every last one (and for Brown to turn the ball over as time ran out) to win in overtime. NU gets a banner on the wall of the South Padre Island Convention Center but they should name the arena after Brown or something. His last three came from closer to half court than the three point line, and only 200 or so spectators and we select few subscribers to CBS Sports Network would get to see it.
Regardless, trophies are nice and Northwestern have gotten three in three years in these dinky little early season tournaments. But here come the big name schools starting Tuesday night against Maryland, part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Wildcats can now claim to have more assists per game than anyone in the nation, and hopefully the defense will continue to look unusually competent against top conference competition.
Just remember: It’s all meaningless.