Impressions from last night in Evanston

Submitted by JeepinBen on January 4th, 2013 at 8:43 AM

I was one of the many (thousands?) who donned some maize and blue and took over Northwestern's "Arena" last night, and it was the first time I've seen this team in person, and it's slow on the board, so here are my thoughts:

  • We're really good at basketball. It seemed like we weren't even quite hitting on all cylinders, but even with a couple of misfires we put up 94 points.
  • Trey Burke loves being faster than everyone. It's not every day you can beat a guy who is a foot taller than you for a layup.
  • Timmy found his stroke. Ankle? What ankle? His bad decisions have been cut immensly. And even when he took a ball to the rim that didn't look like it was in the flow of the offense, he got to the line. He's matured a ton as a basketball player.
  • Mitch still isn't at 100% (might be healthy, but isn't quite in top game shape?). But when he gets there, watch out.
  • The refs were just bad - Morgan's tech seemed like BS, there were some touchy non-calls and calls... but again, we won by 28 so it's like, OK. (edited for early morning math error)
  • We need to practice Alley-Oops more. I mean, layup oops? Really? /picking all of the nits
  • All 5 starters were in double figures despite:
  • Stauskas is obviously a TERRIBLE shooter in the B1G /statistic'd
  • GR3 is going to be a matchup problem for a lot of 4s throughout B1G play.

Also, on the arena, etc:

  • Wow, if you thought old Crisler was bad, head to Welsh-Ryan. It's like the inside of yost with a higher rake and fewer endzone seats
  • They don't have many concession stands, and had no apparell store. They did bring in racks with T-shirts for sale though
  • They did have vendors throughout the crowd selling stuff. I don't remember seeing that at many college games
  • The scoreboard was like Yost's old one, an early 90's LED board that had about 10% of the lights burned out
  • Pat Fitzgerald thanked everyone during a break with their bowl tropy. I didn't realize they won 10 games. Way to go Northwestern
  • Also, Pat is totally a meathead linebacker

Anybody else make the trip? How maize was the crowd on TV?



January 4th, 2013 at 8:52 AM ^

Took care of a bad team, missing key contributors, they did what they were supposed to do. This team goes with Burke, sure they have some talent around him, but when he is on, they will be tough to beat. I'm still looking towards the Ohio game to see how tough we are. While I agree the officiating wasn't very good, Morgan deserved the technical, he threw the ball down and said something to the ref, that will get you a T most times.


January 4th, 2013 at 8:59 AM ^

I agree, he deserved the tech (if not a warning.)

I couldn't tell Michigan had occupied the arena, but that's good to know... it kinda looked like Yost or the Maui invitational with their "endzones" or lackthereof.  It seemed like an oddly created b-ball arena.


January 4th, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

While I agree with this sentiment, if this team is going to accomplish what they are expected to then we should be able to beat iowa at home. I think this team is mature enough to understand that they have to show up. I'm sure they have seen that Iowa played indiana close (though iowa was home). Also, we have the nebraska game after this, so I don't think it functions as a true trap game.


January 4th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

certainly, by itself, it didn't warrant a T. If he said something, that is another matter.

I didn't notice a lot of maize in the stands, but you could sure hear the M fans cheer.

The arena looks like a hockey arena. And why do they have that washed out purple on the floor? The big N at center court is darker and looks good, but that lavender in the lane does not look good on TV.

snarling wolverine

January 4th, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

Morgan didn't really throw the ball . . .  he just bounced it off the floor.  If he said something rude, OK, but if not, I don't think he deserved a tech.  It looked like he was mad at himself, not the official.  I think a lot of officiating crews would have let it go.



January 4th, 2013 at 4:38 PM ^

The ball with force opposite of a referee is going to get you a tech every time, not to mention mouthing off to the official. No official in any sport like to be shown up. Whether it was a bounce or a slam, it was towards nobody and was meant to display anger towards an official, that's a T every time.

snarling wolverine

January 4th, 2013 at 5:13 PM ^

That's not true.  I've definitely seen guys bounce it in frustration and not get T'd up.  If he said something to the officials, then it's different, but if it was for that bounce, that was pretty weak.  I didn't get the impression he was even mad at the official, but at himself for traveling.



January 4th, 2013 at 5:38 PM ^

Maybe but if you bounce the ball away from an official with an attitude like Morgan did, then that is going to be a tech 99% of the time in college. The ball was forcefully thrown down towards nobody. And your impression of him being mad at himself and not the ref isn't very accurate either.


January 4th, 2013 at 8:54 AM ^

I think one think that really helps Stauskus (and generally helps all shooters) is receiving a pass that is chest high because you don't have to "reset" the ball. On at least two of his misses, the kick-out pass was below his waist. It's always slightly awkward to shoot a jump shot after catching a low pass because you first have to move the ball to chest-level and then go into your shooting motion.  


January 4th, 2013 at 8:58 AM ^


The refs were just bad - Morgan's tech seemed like BS, there were some touchy non-calls and calls... but again, we won by 38 so it's like, OK. (28).

- Who wants NW gear anyway? (Other than their kickin FB jerseys from this year)

- Not just 10 games, but also a bowl win for the first time since 1949. That meathead LB is a pretty good coach.

Mr. Rager

January 4th, 2013 at 8:58 AM ^

At some point it's got to become "Mitch McGary was probably never a 5 star and is still just a freshman" instead of him being "out of game shape".  

He's great, I love him. 


January 4th, 2013 at 10:24 AM ^

That same ref was not very good.  I believe he gave the T to Morgan and called the ridiculous shooting foul on GR3 when he and another guy were fighting over a rebound.  The foul call was kinda weak itself, but the NW player was not shooting either way.


January 4th, 2013 at 9:04 AM ^

It was a 28 point victory, actually.

My biggest concerns for this team are:

-McGary and fouls.  In order for him to progress he needs to be able to stay in the game.  I don't necessarily want him to be so careful that he becomes tentative, but need to be smarter with his aggressive play.

-I don't want the hype of being the best shooter in the universe to get to Stauskas to the point that he forces shots. He can make any shot if he's in his natural rhythm, but is limited to simply "better than most" if he fires up a well-covered rush ball.

-Horford's health for depth purposes should freshmen "hit a wall" midway through the B1G season.

-Spike letting the game come to him when he's giving Burke a rest

When those are the concerns, and 3 of the 4 are coming from bench guys, this team is in great shape.

panthera leo fututio

January 4th, 2013 at 11:28 AM ^

I actually take the opposite view on your Stauskas point: I hope that the hype of his shooting percentage doesn't make him back away from taking shots on the margin of his abilities. If he shoots 60% from 3 on the year, I think it probably means that he didn't shoot enough. 3-point shots that he hits 40% of the time are still good from an efficiency standpoint (1.2 points per possession is pretty stellar, though Michigan as a team sits at 1.21 right now).


January 4th, 2013 at 9:06 AM ^

I posted this in another thread, but I was there with 7 Michigan fans, sitting behind the basket in what is usually a student section. We got the tickets through our neighborhood school, and apparently the school made a deal with NW: they can have the tickets at the deeply discounted price of $10 a piece if everyone wears purple and cheers for NW. Frantic emails had been sent out during the day saying "Please wear purple! They may never give us tickets again if we don't!!"

We ended up not wearing purple, not wearing the t-shirts they gave us since we didn't show up wearing purple, and not cheering for NW (obviously). We did, however, refrain from overtly cheering for Michigan, which I felt would be in bad form.  Not cheering for Michigan is much harder than you would think. 


January 4th, 2013 at 10:29 AM ^

The first couple games he was lost on offense, but he has really come along.  Last night he looked very good attacking the zone.  He also appears to be maybe our best on ball defender, as long as he's covering someone that can't overpower him.  His length and quickness are quite the combination.


January 4th, 2013 at 11:19 AM ^

A lot of the lost on offense part is because he was playing on the scout team and didn't really have any chemistry with the main rotation guys and didn't have familiarity with all of the sets, etc. I think the experience since then and his growing confidence are definetely showing. 

panthera leo fututio

January 4th, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

Seeing LeVert handle the ball last night made me feel a lot better about (likely) losing Burke next year. He looked plenty strong enough with his dribble to break pressure/set up an offense, and, as happy as I am to have both of them, I'm glad that LeVert will be an option alongside Spike and Walton.


January 4th, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

I was going to do a longer diary post on this but since there's already a started forum topic I'll just put my bullet points here:

- Welsh Ryan arena suuuuuuuuucks.  Horribly designed arena.  Way too few bathrooms & concession sites.  Very cramped bleacher seats on the visitors side, had another M fan's knee in my back all game.

-  What a crappy scoreboard, plus the awful positioning of the banners hanging from the rafters blocks the view of it from some angles.  The thing is so small there is no room for any stats for players other than their jersey #, points, and fouls.  I didn't know Morgan had a double double until I turned on the radio on the drive home.

- I thought it was interesting that when they introduced Fitzgerald at halftime, they noted he was the winningest coach in NW history with 50 wins.  When you think about it, that's kind of sad.  If he stays there long term (which I think he will, he loves it there), he will end up being their Bo Schembechler.

- They brought out a kid for a shooting for prizes contest during one of the TV timeouts and he hit every shot (he had to make 7 or 8 shots of increasing distance), meaning he put in more buckets in 60 seconds than any player on NW did in 40 minutes.  They should've found him at halftime and given him a jersey.  Later on they ran another contest (sponsored by Meijer, which the nearest is about 25 minutes from Evanston so that was weird) where the girl had to sink 5 basketballs into shopping carts from 15+ feet away.  She did manage to get all 5, doing bounce shots off of the floor instead of trying to actually shoot, so the balls would stay inside the carts. NW should have suited her up too.

- The Michigan side of the arena was completely packed as far as I could tell, with very few open spaces.  The NW side had a lot of empty seats, and also many sprinkles of Maize & Blue throughout.  Michigan fans appeared to outnumber NW fans by at least a 2 or 3 to 1 margin.

- Burke was on fire early, and he had a number of sick moves where he just juked the opposing player out of his shorts.  That kid is incredible to watch live.

- I'm surprised Coach B played Burke and Hardaway as long as he did.  The game was never in doubt, he should've emptied out the bench much earlier than he did.

- I know they were on winter break, but NWs student section was half full, and extremely uncoordinated.  Nothing like the Maize Rage.

- It didn't seem like the team was running too many set plays, but more like they were trying to create shots on their own 1 on 1.  I'm hoping they were just saving the advanced stuff for tougher opponents.

- Finally, a funny moment of the game at halftime when I was in line for the bathroom.  I overheard a little boy, maybe 5 or so, clad in purple, ask his dad "How come Michigan keeps making all their threes?  It's not fair!  They have to stop shooting those."


January 4th, 2013 at 9:27 AM ^

And in terms of playing burke/Hardaway so long, Tim missed time and was obviously tired, so he might have been giving him minutes to get his legs going. Also, I think JB is still tinkering and trying to give different lineups time together. He played 4 freshmen and Hardaway, the starters with McGary at the 4, etc. I think when we play PSU in 6-8 weeks, the bench will empty much earlier. It's still pretty early in the year, and I think he's still getting guys minutes together to get them used to each other


January 4th, 2013 at 9:31 AM ^

Especially when Burke got knocked down in the 2nd half.  I just don't want to see us lose anyone important if they are playing in a game where they can be on the bench.  I get that Coach B is trying to get all the players time and get them comfy with each other, which will help us down the road, I just really don't want to see this chance for a historic season thrown away if someone gets hurt, ya know?


January 4th, 2013 at 10:01 AM ^

I totally disagree about Welsh-Ryan. You're right that the seats are uncomfortable and too close together and that the scoreboard is outdated. So what. It's small. The sight-lines are good. The bleachers fold up. It's loud in a distinct, echoey, low-ceilinged way that gyms are loud.  It just feels more like college basketball than the larger arenas.

It's my third favorite venue in the Big 10 after the Barn and Assembly Hall (which is just a larger version of Welsh-Ryan).


January 4th, 2013 at 10:19 AM ^

For someone who lives in Evanston, NW provides easy access to sporting events, easy parking right across from the stadium, and we can take the train from our house if we don't feel like driving. So even though the facilities aren't as awesome as others, I'm glad to be able to see Michigan play there once in a while, football included, and it's never a big hassle. 


January 4th, 2013 at 12:31 PM ^

from my past that taints all future experiences there.  My high school is huge (my graduating class was about 900 kids) and our graduation ceremony is there every year.  It was mid-june, over 100 degrees, and the A/C was not working.  After sweltering in that place for about 4 hours, I think it ruined me for life on that arena.

So, I guess my griping about W-R can be taken with a bit of salt.  I'm probably also way too used to pro stadiums and I don't have too many college ones to compare W-R against.

snarling wolverine

January 4th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

Yeah, I think Welsh-Ryan is unique.  It's old-school, like Yost.  If NW can ever become good enough to sell out without the help of visiting fans, it could become a pretty tough place to play.

Northwestern, incidentally, is going to embark on a huge facility upgrade for football.  Not sure if basketball is on the docket also.


January 4th, 2013 at 10:04 AM ^

It's Northwestern fergodsakes, people around here forget our arena was junk a year or 2 ago. Northwestern does not create athletic revenue like our football program does. I don't understand why people are so negative around here sometimes. It's Northwestern, they aren't going to have cutting edge athletic arenas or facilities.


January 4th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^

I wasn't paying attention to them and unfortunately my photo from my phone was blurry, but they're the ones in this pic I snapped from the seats last night.  I think they have them up for every sport, like women's field hockey and stuff.  If you go to the top right or top left of the bleachers they block the scoreboard. (LINK to photo, having hard time with embed of a photo uploaded to Twitter for some reason)

Also, if you look at that photo, you'll notice the massive quantity of NW seats wide open. There were a lot of NW no-shows.