Northwestern Must "Burn" Offensively To Survive In Big Ten Play

By michaelcronin
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I told you that was going to be ugly. Very ugly.

The Northwestern Wildcats were undermanned and outworked as the number two team in the country, the Michigan Wolverines, cruised to an easy win in both teams Big Ten conference opener.

Reggie Hearn couldn’t go due to an ankle injury although he apparently did warm up prior to the game. At least that’s positive!

The long awaited return of TCU Horned Frogs transfer Nikola Cerina happened…. in garbage time.

So it wasn’t all bad, right?

Since that one is merficully off the schedule, the Wildcats need to “flush it” and move forward quickly.

They travel to Williams Arena to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers Sunday and I want to see them undergo a makeover before that one.

Bill Carmody needs to adopt elements of the “burn offense” shown so well under Mike Brey during the Notre Dame Fighting Irish run to the tournament in 2010. While I’m not saying it will get the Wildcats close to that point this season, at least it will give them a chance to hang around in games.

Every coach wants to run up-tempo and have a nice number on the scoreboard but when you don’t have the horses to do that you must “adapt or die”. Recruits want to see wins more than anything, style points can wait.

If you weren’t aware, the “burn offense” is set up basically to limit the number of possessions in a game. So what you do is take 15-20 seconds off the clock offensively which forces the defensive team to pay attention for nearly the entire possession. As a result, they themselves must also be more efficient on offense with fewer possessions to “waste”.

Of course, you generally need a guy that can create his own shot late and while Northwestern doesn’t have Drew Crawford they do still have Tre Demps. The freshman is tiny but has a great first step and is developing his perimeter jumper. Additionally, throwing it down to Alex Olah isolated on the block can be another way to score late in the shot clock.

Northwestern is never going to be a great defensive team. Let’s be honest. However, they could offset that in the past with great perimeter shooting. This year’s team doesn’t appear to have that element. By incorporating a deliberate pace you help close the talent gap between you and the opponent. Rarely did you see multiple run outs against Notre Dame that pushed a four-point game to 12 in the blink of an eye. Think of this offense as the “spread offense” in college football during the early 2000’s. It helped to even the playing field. Right now, that field is stacked against Northwestern. Give it a try, Bill. For your job and for the fans sanity.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.

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