Northwestern finished seventh in the Big Ten Conference regular season, but beat top-seeded Michigan State and lost five other games by a combined 12 points.
GAME: Northwestern (19-13, 8-10 Big Ten) at Washington (22-10, 14-4 Pac-12). WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m., Alaska Airlines Arena. MEETING: 8th (Huskies lead 5-2). RANKINGS: Neither team ranked. TV: ESPNU. RADIO: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM.
Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies continue their ho-hum through the National Invitation Tournament Friday against Northwestern University, a school UW has not met since the second round of the 1975 Far West Classic in Portland. The stats — and Northwestern’s style of play — suggest that this might be a bad match-up for Washington.
Although Northwestern tied for seventh in the Big Ten regular-season standings with Iowa, the Wildcats beat a ranked team, scoring an 81-74 victory over then-No. 6 Michigan State. Northwestern also took No. 13 Michigan into overtime twice before losing. Washington didn’t beat a ranked team all season.
Northwestern lost five Big Ten games by a combined 12 points, and finished its season with an RPI of 52 to Washington’s 70. Northwestern also played the 17th-most difficult schedule among Division I teams. Washington played the 90th toughest.
Northwestern, which received an NIT bid after losing in the first round of the Big Ten tournament to Minnesota, relies heavily on the 3-point shot, something the Huskies aren’t very good at defending. In fact, the NU-UW matchup has the potential to set arena records for 3-pointers attempted and made.
The Wildcats led the Big Ten and ranked sixth nationally with an average of nine 3-pointers made per game. In its Dec. 2 92-67 win over Mississippi Valley State, NU dropped in an astonishing 20 3-pointers, tying the school and Big Ten record (UW single-game record is 17, done three times).
Shurna finished Big Ten play with an average of 20 ppg to claim the conference scoring crown. Northwestern had not had an individual lead the Big Ten in scoring since Ray Ragelis in 1951.
“Shurna is a really good basketball plaer,” UW Coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He’s 6-9 and he shoots it as well as anyone. With that size, there aren’t that many guys that can match up with him.”
Reflecting head coach Bill Carmody‘s coaching background at Princeton, Northwestern runs the “Princeton offense,” which emphasizes constant motion, passing, back-door cuts and disciplined teamwork. The offense works best when executed by multiple players who can pass and shoot at an average level. The Princeton offense is designed to create mismatches.
“They (Northwestern) have four guys between 6-1 and 6-9 and they can all score,” said Romar. “They will present match-up problems for us, that’s the main concern. It’s hard to defend. The challenge is a little like South Dakota State (which hosed UW by 19 home in December), which also had four or five shooters. You just have to do a better job of not letting them get open threes. We already told our guys that this (game) would be most similar to South Dakota State.”
Northwestern, making its seventh NIT appearance, came up just shy of a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT finals a year ago, falling at Washington State in overtime in the quarterfinal round.
SERIES: Dates to Dec. 29, 1951, when Washington defeated the No. 3-ranked Wildcats 83-60 at Edmundson Pavilion. The 1975 meeting in Portland went Washington’s way, 70-57 .Washington’s Clarence Ramsey scored 17 points while Lars Hansen and Kim Stewart each added 14. Northwestern was coached by Tex Winter, UW’s head coach from 1969-71.
LAST GAME (Washington, March 14): Terrence Ross scored 23 points and top-seeded Washington beat Texas-Arlington 82-72 in the first round of the NIT in front of just 2,801 fans. C.J. Wilcox added 14 points off the bench and Darnell Gant had 13 for the Huskies (22-10). The Huskies shot 68 percent in the second half and 57 percent for the game. Washington increased a 68-65 lead to 77-65 when it began to rebound efficiently in the second half. “I thought we were ready to play, but I thought we were able to turn it up,” Romar said. “Once we got that feeling, I think we adjusted.”
LAST GAME (Northwestern, March 14): A potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer by Akron guard Alex Abreu bounced off the glass, allowing the Wildcats to preserve a 76-74 NIT victory over Akron. Shurna, the Wildcats’ career leading scorer, had 23 points and 11 rebounds and became the 27th player in Big Ten history with 2,000 or more points. JerShon Cobb added 19 points for the hosts. Quincy Diggs led the Zips (22-12) with 18 points.
UW IN THE NIT: Washington is making its first appearance in the NIT since 1997 and its sixth overall. The Huskies played in 1996, 1987, 1982 and 1980 and are 4-5 after defeating UT Arlington. The Huskies have now hosted three NIT games and are 2-1. Prior to playing UT Arlington, UW last hosted an NIT game March 16, 1987 when the Huskies defeated Boise State 73-68 (UW lost in the third round to Nebraska at Lincoln). In that game, senior guard Greg Hill scored 18 of UW’s 22 points in the final five minutes, including 15 in a row. The only other home NIT game hosted by UW was a 1982 second-rounder the Huskies dropped 69-65 to Texas A&M.
UW STATS/NOTES: Washington has won 20 or more games in four consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. UW had won 20 or more in three consecutive seasons twice previously, from 1951-53 and 1943-45 . . . Romar has won 20+ games six times at Washington. The only other UW coach with more 20-win seasons is Hec Edmundson (11) . . . Washington has led the Pac-12 in rebounding for four consecutive seasons, the first league member to accomplish that feat since UCLA did it nine straight times from 1966-74 . . . UW was the only Pac-12 team that had three players ranked in the conference’s top 10 in scoring: Tony Wroten third at 16.7 ppg, Ross sixth at 15.3 and Wilcox seventh at 14.0 . . . Wroten took only six shots in the win over UT Arlington and finished with nine points . . . Wroten led Washington with 11 20-point games . . . Wroten and Detlef Schrempf (1985) are the only Huskies with 500 points, 150 rebounds and 100 assists in a season . . . Wilcox is just one of 10 players in UW history with 100 or more career 3-pointers.
NORTHWESTERN STATS/NOTES: Northwestern lost in the Big Ten Tournament to Minnesota 75-68 in OT . . . Three Northwestern players earned All-Big Ten accolades: Shurna was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten, while junior forward Drew Crawford was a consensus third-team pick. Guard Dave Sobolewski was on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team . . . Shurna is the active Big Ten career leader with 44 games of scoring 20 or more points. He scored 30 or more three times in 2011-12 . . . Among Division 1 players 6-foot-9 or taller, Shurna led the nation with 85 3-pointers . . . Northwestern ranked fourth in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, 1.51.
COACHES: Romar is in his 10th season as Washingtons head coach. Romar has taken the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament six times, and won three Pac-10 Tournament titles (2005, 2010, 2011). Romar, who signed a 10-year contract extension in April 2011, won his his 200th game at Washington Dec. 16, 2011, when the Huskies defeated UC Santa Barbara. He had his 300th career victory and his 100th as a conference coach when the Huskies won Jan. 21. Romar was selected the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the third time in his career.
Romar played for the Huskies under head coach Marv Harshman during the 1979-80 seasons (served as team captain his senior year), and then had a five-year NBA career with Golden State (1981-84), Milwaukee (1984) and Detroit (1984-85). He became a college head coach at Pepperdine in 1997, where he coached for three seasons, then spent three years (1999-02) at St. Louis University before taking the Washington job in 2002-03.
Bill Carmody: Carmody is in his 12th season as head coach of the Wildcats, and has guided them to four consecutive postseason appearances, a school record. Under Carmody, Northwestern has collected at least six Big Ten wins in eight of his 12 years. He was Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2003-04. Prior to taking the Northwestern job, Carmody served as Princeton’s head coach for four years. He worked as a Princeton assistant for 14 years.
ART THIEL’S TAKE: After missing out on the hot sister, the Huskies date the plain one. If they let that feeling show, Washington will get its jersey pulled over its head and beaten silly.
Northwestern plays an style so old that it goes back to a time when Chicago was actually the northwestern part of the country. The style makes fools of more talented teams because it plays the game with patience, smarts and poise. Romar has raised the specter of the loss of South Dakota State, one of the worst defeats in his time here, which was wise because nothing bothers the Huskies more, except maybe Venoy Overton‘s rap sheet. The one thing UW has going for it is that the Huskies are now over the Oregon State loss, and sees the virtue of a second trip four months to New York City. It won’t be enough. Northwestern 63, Washington 59.
STEVE RUDMAN’S TAKE: The Huskies might be tempted to look at Northwestern’s seventh-place finish in the Big Ten and phone this one in. Better not. Five of Northwestern’s losses came by a combined total of just 12 points. Plus, Northwestern defeated Michigan State, which drew a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.
Even though it’s only an NIT game, this might be one of the more entertaining contests of the year given the way the Wildcats shoot — and make — the 3-pointer. In fact, the Wildcats made 94 more 3-pointers this year than the Huskies, including 20 in one game. Huskies come out flat, and this could be a rout. For no reason whatsoever, I’ll assume UW won’t and take then at their seed (No. 1). Washington 82, Northwestern 78.
COMING UP: If UW defeats Northwestern, the Huskies will play the winner of Oregon-Iowa next week with a trip to Madison Square Garden on the line. Oregon-Iowa is 4 p.m. Sunday.
University of Washington 2011-12 Schedule/Results
(Rankings Are Current)
|Date||Opponent||UW Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|11/4/11||vs. Seattle Pacific||—||—||W||77-60||0-0|
|11/12/11||vs. Georgia State||—||—||W||91-74||1-0|
|11/13/11||vs. Florida Atlantic||—||—||W||77-71||2-0|
|11/20/11||at Saint Louis||—||—||L||77-64||3-1|
|11/25/11||vs. Houston Baptist||—||—||W||88-65||4-1|
|12/2/11||at Nevada||—||—||L||76-73 (OT)||4-2|
|12/16/11||vs. UC Santa-Barbara||—||—||W||87-80||5-4|
|12/18/11||vs. South Dakota St.||—||—||L||92-73||5-5|
|12/22/11||vs. Cal-State Northridge||—||—||W||74-50||6-5|
|12/29/11||vs. Oregon State||—||—||W||95-80||7-5|
|1/10/12||vs. Seattle U.||—||—||W||91-83||10-6|
|1/15/12||vs. Washington St.||—||—||W||75-65||11-6|
|1/26/12||at Arizona St.||—||—||W||60-54||13-7|
|2/12/12||at Oregon St.||—||—||W||75-72||17-8|
|2/16/12||vs. Arizona State||—||—||W||77-69||18-8|
|2/25/12||at Washington St.||—||—||W||59-55||20-8|
@=Jimmy V Classic; #=Carquest Auto Parts Classic; ^=Pac-12 tournament; *=NIT