It is now apparent that we have some severe issues that need to be resolved immediately before the season totally unravels. Everything that was working in the 14-0 start is no longer working. We are slowly deconstructing the profile we have built for ourselves. We have to do something while there is still a season to salvage.
Make no mistake, there is still a season to salvage. There are 13 Big Ten games to play. We are entirely capable of winning all of those games. Will we? Probably not, but I am firmly confident that it is at least a possibility. I won't quit on this team, and neither should you. Still, something has to change.
Northwestern was the better team today. We could not avoid foul trouble. We made conscious decision that we were not interested in rebounding the basketball. That is the only excuse for getting out-rebounded that badly by Northwestern. The Wildcats hit ever big shot they needed to hit and they hit their free throws. Yes, some calls went their way, but when our offense has become reduced to, "Let's watch Robbie and E'Twaun do something," other teams don't need to do much. Northwestern wanted it more today, and they took it. Credit to them for doing what they needed to do.
On the surface, these are still not three bad losses. Wisconsin is a very good team that plays well at home. Ohio State is extremely talented and, at least on paper, earned that win (I know we blew it). Northwestern was a desperate team playing at home that needed a signature win to boost its NCAA profile and it got it. We knew that every single game in this conference was going to be difficult this year. We just need to wake up and actually respond to the challenge.
There is no need to get into the numbers. I didn't get to watch the game and I only got to listen to the last ten minutes on the radio. Robbie and E'Twaun showed up, Everyone else decided that they would rather be offensive liabilities rather than compete. Foul trouble was a major issue, of course. Northwestern made it death by papercuts by hitting free throw after free throw. We only have ourselves to blame for sending them to the line 30 times.
Drew Crawford was simply a Boilermaker killer. His three to give them the lead for good with two seconds left on the shot clock was a backbreaker. Thompson may have done most of the heavy lifting, but Crawford ripped out our souls with crushing baskets.
So now we have a choice to make. We have two days off before we play a critical game at Illinois. We have to decide, as a team, if we are still interested in competing in the 2009-10 basketball season or if we would rather roll over and die. We have been soft. We have had no consistency or flow on offense. We no longer understand the simple concept of grabbing the ball on rebounds, instead choosing to bat it around like a cat batting a ball of yarn. Everything is fixable. In truth, we could still easily be 17-0 right now if we hit free throws at Wisconsin, decide to guard Turner in the last four minutes against Ohio State, and rebound today.
We're too good of a team to have this not be a simple choice at this point. I'm not the one that has to choose though. We'll see what that choice is Tuesday night.
We have to decide not to be a callow basketball team and return to the form we are fully capable of being. If you look at our overall profile it is still very, very good. The Tennessee win is paying off. The West Virginia win is paying off. The Alabama win is paying off. We are still in a position to help ourselves and control our own destiny, but we have to decide if we want to.