At what point does a fan base say enough is enough? Northwestern Wildcats fans must be thinking that once again after the news broke Friday that junior guard JerShon Cobb is being suspended for the entire 2012-13 season for a violation of team policy.
It’s obviously a major knock to the Wildcats hopes of joining the NCAA tournament party for the first time in their history. While he was oft injured throughout his two years in Evanston, his talent is unquestionable. On paper he was probably Northwestern’s best player and best athlete. Known most for his smooth crossover and tedious on ball defense.
In Cobb’s absence, head coach Bill Carmody will have to mix and match his lineups depending on the game situation. The two best candidates to take over at the two guard position will be redshirt freshman Tre Demps and senior Reggie Hearn.
Demps is 6’2 combo guard who Northwestern was expecting to the win the point guard job last year before being injured in a preseason pickup game. He’s considered a good but not great athlete. However, his basketball IQ is said to be off the charts and he should be able to immediately jump in and “learn on the fly”.
Hearn is a former walk-on who came into his own last season after giving his parents a huge gift by getting on scholarship. He’s an excellent 3 point shooter and a surprisingly good defender. Last year he played in a lot of three guard lineups despite being listed at just 6’4.
Other names that have been mentioned as possible replacements for Cobb include senior Alex Marcotullio. He’s best known for his game tying 3 against Ohio State in February during a game Northwestern eventually lost. Marcotullio is a great three point shooter who hit at over a 41 percent clip last year. Chances are he’ll mostly be used though to spell minutes for starting sophomore point guard Dave Sobolewski and if Northwestern goes to a situational three guard look.
Can Northwestern replace the contributions of Cobb? Probably not but they can work around it. For the first time in ages Northwestern should actually have some front court size with 6 players 6’8 or above. I expect the Wildcats will go with a more traditional look this season employing a starting lineup of 2 guards and 3 forwards. It also wouldn’t surprise me if they go big in certain situations moving senior Drew Crawford to the shooting guard and Louisville Cardinals transfer Jared Swopshire to the small forward spot. He played some in that spot last year for Rick Pitino’s squad.
Getting punched in the gut is nothing new for Northwestern fans, frankly they expect it. Between Kevin Coble‘s injury then disappearance, John Shurna‘s mid-season injury and now this, what else could go wrong? The expectations will be lowered and maybe that’s a good thing for the program. Just keep fighting until you get knocked out.