I'd rather lose every game by 20 than live in this purgatory of a team that overperforms in losses to really good teams.
That's probably not true. But it does accurately describe how after two weeks of unbelievably crappy sports outcomes I've realized that I should start looking into some other hobbies, like pottery or knitting, or maybe I could just go full Amish. (No. 1 rule of the internet: the one group you can always make fun of is the Amish. They're not up on their RSS readers. Here, watch this: SCREW YOU, AMISH PEOPLE. Check back with me in two weeks. I won't get any complaint emails.)
NU played their friggin hearts out Saturday, which is really, really, really awesome news, because although NU still hasn't beaten a better team than them, they still haven't lost one either. A near-perfect second half of the conference slate - yeah, one loss, tops - could get them a tourney bid. And they played near. friggin. perfect. for 40 minutes on Saturday. Do it again against Illinois on national TV and we got ourselves a convo.
- Props to Bill Carmody on the gameplan: 49 possessions, slowest game of the year, giving NU a chance at the upset, bleeding the clock every time down. And that pressure man defense? WHAT IS THAT AND WHY DOESN'T THAT HAPPEN EVERY GAME? OSU is a great shooting team, and they simply weren't getting open looks. Amazing stuff. 'Twas on ESPN, so I'll whip up some ESPN3 plays and show you how they were able to do it.
- On the other hand: 30 percent from three, against the No. 1 team in the country... man. NU shoots normally from downtown and that's a W. Luckily, ONIONS took over and NU went 5-for-6 over a stretch late in the game. NU's devolution into a poor three-point shooting team is pretty disconcerting, considering it's been NU's only way of staying up against opponents of a decent quality - hopeflly it's been a flukey few weeks.
- John Shurna didn't play, but it was probably NU's best game of the year. The world doesn't make sense.
- With, like, 12 minutes left in the game, I made a knock about how Juice Thompson is our "senior leader" and he had three points. Uhh, he finished with 16 and 8. I don't know if "senior leadership" is a real thing or just something made up by sportswriters to make better columns, but if it is a thing, Juice has it, as well as a copious amount of Bill Raftery-brand caramlized ONIONS after nailing everything down the stretch.
- Great offensive rebounding - you shoot a lot of threes, sometimes those balls go your way.
- Mike Capocci's performance will go down as one of my great NU eighth-man memories, along with one time I remember Sterling Wililams scoring some points against Purdue in an upset road win my freshman year and Ivan Peljusic hitting a 18-footer against Michigan State. (But seriously: WHAT, Mike Capocci? Major props. Our best offensive player goes down, and, up steps a guy with virtually no recorded history of having any offensive repertoire there to put in double-digit points for only the second time in his career.
- W/R/T - last playpocalypse: not disappointed with the half-court shot. I am questionable of Carmody's decision to use two timeouts as opposed to using one and saving one in case the play was botched or to use in case you do get a pass downcourt. Drew also picked the ball up a bit early. But that didn't lose the game for NU, don't get too critical. Matta's not dumb - nothing Bill Carmody can draw up to beat the b-ball equivalent of a prevent defense.
- Sick intentional foul, Dallas Lauderdale. I love seven-point plays.
- After the game, Jared Sullinger twat about how NU is one of his favorite places to play now! I HOPE YOUR NBA CAREER IS A VICIOUS DISAPPOINTMENT AND THAT YOU NEVER FIND TRUE HAPPINESS IN LIFE. (Side note: this isn't true. I hope you do pretty well and I can tell whoever I'm watching the game with "hey, I remember we almost beat him in college! OSU was No. 1 that year, and we only lost by one!" and then I'll cry into my hands about how lonely I am.)
- The most exciting sporting event I've ever been to was in 2006: Knicks-Bobcats, double overtime, David Lee wins the game with a tip-in with .1 seconds on the clock, something that is literally impossible (as in it's literally impossible for the ball to touch your hand for that little time off a pass like that but the scorekeeper didn't start the game clock accurately as starting the game clock accurately is also almost literally impossible). I bring this up for a reason: announcing that game, Gus Johnson made a noise that I didn't think I could make. It sounds like he's trying to yell as loudly as it's coming out as an almost indistinguishable high-pitched squeal. My point is, I didn't think I could make it until Juice Thompson hit a go-ahead three to put NU up two, and then I made that noise. I could feel the air passing through my throat but distinctly could tell that nothing was happening.
- I bumped into some of the guys from the team out at the Keg Saturday after the game (and, before you say anything, inevitable insufferable guy moralizing about how they shouldn't be out after a tough loss: shut up, they're college students) and since I know em decently well from when I covered the team I said two things: first off, you guys played awesome so don't get too beat up over it, just bring it Saturday vs. Illinois. Secondly, Jared Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale are both 47 years old and it's messed up that Greg Oden graduated but they kept his grandpa forehead wrinkles. They thought that was a good one.
- Got to the game late - thanks, NU, for deciding to suspend your shuttle service to the game from 4:30 to 4:55 for a 5 p.m. game - so I wasn't close enough to heckle. I really wanted to ask Thad Matta what Jared Sullinger's major was and about how Evan Turner's progress towards a degree is going, then throw some bubble gum at the floor to see if he would pick it up and eat it.