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Next Year's Team

  • Zazzy
  • All-American
  • Rating: 3.2/5 this site
  • 982 posts this site

Posted: 1/26/2013 7:35 AM

Next Year's Team 


I was thinking how the amazing transformation of this year's team is giving us a realistic and exciting view of how next year can be.  Granted, one of the reasons we're surprising this year is team chemistry and we do lose Hearn, Marco and Swop.  But everyone else comes back and they're seeing what can happen when one plays D, among other things.

Next year we'll have:
1. Crawford back and the emergence of Demps a year after similar surgery suggests that Drew may really tear up the league.
2.  Cobb back, and hopefully he'll be healthy and focused and finally show what he's capable of.
3.  Olah with a year under his belt, with continued improvement.
4.  Turner with two years in the system to develop, a year of competition, and continued improvement.
5.  Sobo a junior
6.  Demps with a year of competition under his belt, including starting the last half of the season.
7.  Abrahamson, who'll hopefully settle down and play to the level he's capable of.
8.  Ajou, a bit stronger and with a year under his belt, starting to understand the game and become a blocker and rebounder.
9.  Lumpkin, recovered from his injuries/illnesses, and showing us why Carmody was so excited about him (imagine him at the top of our 1-3-1!) - at guard or forward.
10.  Cerina back, recovered from injury, and able to pound the boards.
10.  Lieberman back, recovered from his injury, and with a year of learning the system under his belt (thus the 5th major rebounder for us, which should be HUGE in reducing the rebounding deficits we've had).
11.  Sina join us - adding much potential when thrown in with Sobo and Demps.
12.  Taphorn - will be interesting to see how he fits in vis a vis Abrahamson and Lumpkin in backing up Cobb and Crawford at the 3 and 4.

Wow.  Is there anyone who isn't drooling?
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  • WSUBCAT
  • Senior
  • Rating: 2.4/5 this site
  • 155 posts this site

Posted: 1/26/2013 9:52 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


I'm not. After points 1 and 2 which could come true, IF they overcome their injuries the rest is just looking at things through dark purple glasses. Olah will probably not show a lot of improvement unless he is utilized properly down in the low post and Turner is not a Div.1 center, maybe a capable 4. what your seeing from Sobo is what you'll get because he won't get taller or quicker, Abramson can shoot but needs lots of work and while Lumpkin looks like baller he has done nothing to prove it. Cernia has been a total disappointment and yes maybe it's injuries but I have a feeling that he might not be back. Do you really think that Ajou will contribute next season, maybe it twpo or three years, maybe and I'll take bets that Lieberman will never see the floor at NU. Sina could be the real deal and think he may overtake Sobo at the 1, while Taphorn is a project, comparable to Turner. If everyone comes back healthy there should be some improvement and maybe a new coach insert some aggressiveness and a new offenive system. We can hope.
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Posted: 1/27/2013 2:08 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


I'm somewhat optimistic, but have natural reasons for concern. 

Next year's lineup, to me, looks like this:

PG- Sobolewski (JR), Sina (FR)
SG- Cobb (RS JR), Demps (RS SO)
SF- Crawford (RS SR), Lumpkin (RS FR*) 
PF- Abrahamson (SO), Cerina (RS SR), Turner (RS SO)
C- Olah (SO), Ajou (RS FR), Liberman (RS FR)

A couple of interesting points here – or at least I think so. Kevin Trahan of insideNU talked to me about how technically, Carmody considers Abrahamson a "4," or someone who has the potential to fill a forward spot in the lineup. I think he needs to figure out how to pop off screens and create his own shot, but to me, he's penciled in as the starter. 

Jeremy Woo and I are convinced that the 6-8 Turner, like the above post said, is not a natural D-I center. He plays not as the primary big, but as someone who can make passes, play decent defense, and hit a shot here and there. Think that because this Turner-at-center experiment has been tough to watch, they'll convert him to a 4. Woo generally makes this same point. 

There are even complications to the point guard position. As someone who recently gained this tendency to love promising recruits, I could see Sobo and Sina sharing the court at certain points. They're both winners, both talented, and Sobo's ability to drive the rim has impressed me. Who knows how Cobb will look when he returns? I like his game, but don't think he'll have close to the impact of Hearn on the floor (14 ppg) or off of it. 

Things I love:
1) Drew Crawford back. Duh. Guy can play and at full strength, he's a force. Was sorry to lose him this season but he'll be back and scoring 18 a game next year. One of the rare guys who improves every year. Class act. 
2) Loaded backcourt. Right now, Tre Demps is starting at the 2 spot. It's not really his natural role, though I agree with the decision. He strikes me as the "offensive spark," a guy who can come on and provide 15 minutes of solid "O." Sort of like... the perfect contrast to Cobb. Sobo is a legit Big Ten point guard. 
3) As "Zazzy" pointed out in the first post, there's TONS of room for improvement. Olah, to me, can really turn it around. The defense is coming along. Next step: rebounding and more consistent offense. He can do that. I'm excited to see Lumpkin in action. I project him to redshirt barring any quick reversal with his wrist. He'll be ready to contribute immediately. There's a bit of depth here.

Things I don't:
1) Same shallow frontcourt. This team will not have many reliable bigs. The center position is a major question mark. They will not be able to rebound. I proposed in a column today (http://northwestern.scout.com/2/1261385.html) that Carmody stop bothering with playing his centers for every minute this season. More important is that they develop. This team gets destroyed on the glass against superior opponents. The team will be good, but a major problem remains. 
2) A lot of strange regression this season. Basically, poor FT shooting and not taking care of the ball. It's a huge story of this season. Huge. I can't imagine an NU team shooting worse. They're seeing sports psychologists and what not. Just needs to improve. 
3) High expectations. Northwestern will deal with incredibly lofty expectations next season. Carmody will basically need to make the tournament. They can do it, but there are still holes. The tough Big Ten might get a little lighter next season. I want to think this team has the potential to be an NCAA 8-seed; they just need to maximize their potential and answer lingering questions.
Follow @NMedlineFOX - Purplewildcats.com Publisher
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Posted: 1/27/2013 7:36 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


Thanks for your opinion Nick. My biggest worry is how Olah will develop. I don't think Ajou or Turner will pan into anything....
Go Cats!
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Posted: 1/27/2013 7:49 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


There's reason for optimism, but equal reason to be skeptical. I lean toward the former generally and am operating under the assumption Carmody stays.

I see the legitimate rotation options as follows:

At guard it'll be a mix of Sobo, Cobb, Demps and Sina. Sobo will continue to earn the lion's share of minutes-no matter how good Sina is right away, he's unlikely to take that starting spot from a player who has earned it and is growing into a leadership role. Cobb will be a decent option, but I'm not sold on his jumper and think he'll be most useful as a defender-don't expect him to be a world-beater but he'll help fill Reggie's spot. Demps will have to become more consistent but will be a nice bench scorer.

Forwards will be Crawford, who will play 35-40 minutes a game, and then Lumpkin, Abrahamson and probably Turner will fight for minutes. Unless Abrahamson markedly improves, I expect Lumpkin to be their best option as a versatile defender and the kind of guy Carmody likes, who can do a lot of things well but nothing spectacularly yet. Kale needs to get better in a lot of ways-just being able to shoot isn't the only thing that makes a good shooter, he needs to improve off the catch as well as bulk up in order to take advantage of mismatches and get to the basket a bit better. Turner will probably be more comfortable with a year under his belt and likely move back to his natural position as a stretch 4, assuming his jump shot rounds into shape (he was an above-average midrange shooter in high school). There's also Cerina, who I think is in flux a bit-doesn't fit that well into the system as a forward but the coaches don't see him as a center, and neither do I. Nate Taphorn could carve out a role as a shooter-he's more of an actual power forward so to speak than Kale-rebounds decently well but needs to improve off the dribble.

At center there's Olah, who will really have to improve every aspect of his game. I'm not sold on him as many are as the "future" of the program but he could certainly be that if he puts in enough work. His development could actually be key to Turner's prospective position switch, if the coaches are comfortable handing Olah more minutes at the 5 spot. Ajou and Liberman are non-factors right now in my mind, but I haven't seen either play quite enough. Don't think Ajou has the right skill set to do much in the offense but could be a useful defender with his size. 

Next year's team has a definite tournament shot but it's contingent on the improvement of the young guys. There's potential for NU to add another Swop-esque graduate transfer, since they have a scholly left to offer and I think are pleased, as they should be, with how the Swopshire situation is turning out. I'd keep expectations tempered, but the staff have developed guys before and have recruited, for the most part, guys that fit into the system. This is a group with a chance to be very competitive throughout the next 2-3 years, but there are a lot of things that need to happen that will dictate just how successful.
Chicago Basketball Scout/Recruiting Analyst

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Posted: 1/27/2013 10:56 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


Is it even safe to assume that Carmody will return?
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Posted: 1/27/2013 11:50 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 



wildcatfan813 wrote: Is it even safe to assume that Carmody will return?
At this point... yes.

Unless NU collapses COMPLETELY – and it might be too late for that after the top-15 win – then the consensus is that we'll see Carmody on the sidelines next season.

I have not been around to watch the past 13 years of NU basketball, and can't imagine the frustration. 

But he's done a fair job in dealing with injuries, etc. in 2013. Pretty solid coaching job. Can't see how this team beat Minnesota, or even Illinois.
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Posted: 1/28/2013 11:54 AM

Re: Next Year's Team 


Some great thoughts here thus far. My take:

PG: This position is in good hands, with Dave Sobolewski returning and Jaren Sina entering the fold. Either way, you've got a proven winner and leader in charge. When the coaches get a grasp on what Sina can do, then you'll likely see a rotation set.

SG: JerShon Cobb has to finally reach his scoring potential for this team to have a chance. He's a great defensive player, but needs to post double-figure points each game. Also, Sanjay Lumpkin and Kale Abrahamson need to develop into key role players.

SF: Provided the NCAA grants Drew Crawford a fifth year of eligibility, which is widely assumed, he'll need to be that impact player. This has to be Drew's team. Also, add Lumpkin, Abramson, and Taphorn into the mix.

PF: Uh oh. Who do you turn to here? You're either playing a small lineup, putting Crawford or someone else at this spot, or going with the unproven Mike Turner. I don't like either plan. This is where I worry for this team. Its best hope is to find a recruit still hanging around or go the Swopshire route once again.

C: It will be fun to see how Alex Olah and Chier Ajou develop in the middle. Both are young and have high potential. We'll have to wait and see.

Coach: I was hearing before that Bill Carmody wasn't safe to return. While he's still being evaluated, it's highly likely he'll return next year.

Prediction: Typical Northwestern. It must hope for ample scoring and that the weak frontcourt doesn't kill its chances.
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Posted: 1/28/2013 1:09 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 



ChrisEmma wrote: When the coaches get a grasp on what Sina can do, then you'll likely see a rotation set.

I like this idea.

It's huge to figure out who can play in what role.

Rather than wasting time trying to work on his lineup chemistry, Carmody will want to improve consistency by setting his lineup early.

Injuries have made that difficult this season. Next year, especially at guard, there will be several pieces to work with.
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Posted: 1/28/2013 5:52 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 



nmedline wrote: 
1) Same shallow frontcourt. This team will not have many reliable bigs. The center position is a major question mark. They will not be able to rebound. I proposed in a column today (http://northwestern.scout.com/2/1261385.html) that Carmody stop bothering with playing his centers for every minute this season. More important is that they develop. This team gets destroyed on the glass against superior opponents. The team will be good, but a major problem remains. 
Interestingly enough, Carmody said today he would consider the idea Nick posed in this column. I'll have the video of the interview posted shortly.
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Posted: 1/29/2013 9:30 AM

Re: Next Year's Team Post Rating (1 vote)


Sanjay is the best kept secret no one know about this kid but he has so much potential and talent.  I hope next season he comes back and people really can see how well this kid can ball.  He is a player and very athletic.  Next year they will be quicker and with these long athletic scorers Dave Sobo should average 7-10 assist per game.

Jershon Cobb will be the Venric Mark of basketball for Northwestern next season
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Posted: 1/29/2013 11:20 AM

Re: Next Year's Team Post Rating (1 vote)


Ajou I think has potential to be kinda similar to Deandre Jordan of the Clippers.  When he was in college all he did was block shots and Dunk.  I think he has to first become a guy who says all I want to do is lead the Big Ten in blocks and rebounds.  Thats called being a role player.  He runs the court okay but can run it better.  

By his Junior year after establishing himself on the Defensive end he may be able to get 4 to 6 points on his own, then you figure another 6 points can come off a guard penetrating and feeding him for an easy lay up.

You cant teach 7'1 but he is a project you have to work with.  If the coaches get him in the gym, he most definitely can become a better player
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Posted: 1/29/2013 11:45 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


Good point by Jitim: Olah needs to create for himself and finish inside.

Once he works out his defensive game, improved offense will follow suit.

I'm fairly confident in Olah moving forward.
Follow @NMedlineFOX - Purplewildcats.com Publisher
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  • Zazzy
  • All-American
  • Rating: 3.2/5 this site
  • 982 posts this site

Posted: 2/2/2013 1:27 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


After today, I'm much more optimistic about Olah.  Against someone who dominated Zeller, Olah held his own for the most part.  I also wonder if Lieberman might be the wild card as a backup to Olah - agree that Turner just doesn't seem to be making much progress and not sure Ajou will be ready by next year (he's played very little bball to date) though would love to be surprised.

To all the doubters, I think the key is that we have so many potential players.  Wouldn't it be fun to see Carmody install a full-court press the entire game and rotate players a lot?  If Taphorn and Sina are able to play at this level as frosh, and Lieberman can provide 10-15 solid minutes in backup, then we could do this with Crawford, Cobb, Sobo, Lumpkin, Sina, Taphorn and Abrahamson rotating in/out with Olah, Cerina and/or Lieberman providing the back stop.  Even Turner has the athleticism to play some press.  Could be interesting.
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Posted: 2/2/2013 4:38 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


I like the "idea" of having depth, but it's easier said than done.

A number of question marks there, but it is fair to see that they can safely go two or even three-deep at any position aside from center. 

I think it's much important that they get top-level production from expected starters, especially Cobb (who is not as good as Reggie Hearn, shockingly).
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Posted: 2/3/2013 4:38 PM

Re: Next Year's Team 


I guess one of the main reasons for optimism is that Carmody has been able to do so much with relatively so little this year. The majority of NU's recruits didn't have many other high-major offers if at all: they've been able to recruit fairly well into their system. For example, Sobolewski-good fit to run this offense, but could he play fast-paced in a breakneck running style? Not quite as well. These players have been coached up extraordinarily and I think that's been a trend over the Carmody years: the players who are most successful have completely bought into what Northwestern and its coaches want to do, have listened and developed their games.

Going into next season, the roster is even more unbalanced without a clear replacement for Swopshire's role. Hearn's loss will hopefully be mitigated by Crawford and to a lesser extent Cobb, who will have to take his game to another level (although I'm not as confident as I'd like to be about it). So it will come down, once again, to which of the players buy in and who makes themselves most useful during the offseason.

Finally, let's not write off this season just yet. There's a lot left for NU to achieve, and I think a sliver of postseason hope. This weekend's game at Iowa will tell us a whole lot.
Chicago Basketball Scout/Recruiting Analyst

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