Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

50° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Second chance the last for Cats

Northwestern forward Winston Blake didn’t seem like his usual self on Sunday when the Northwestern men’s basketball team squared off in an exhibition game against the International Select All-Stars. The junior was NU’s best three-point shooter last season, but he shot a woeful 1-for-9 from beyond the arc last weekend.

But if Wednesday’s practice was any indication, the problems could be solved.

In a shooting drill, Blake nailed shot after shot from the top of the key.

“I was just rushing my shot,” Blake said of his problems in the first exhibition game. “I was finding myself open a lot and I was trying to get rid of the shot quick. That caused me to shoot flat and shoot short.

“I’ve been concentrating on getting my shot off during practice — to relax and get the ball up in the air.”

Blake and the Wildcats get one last preseason chance to prove that they haven’t forgotten how to shoot the three when they face Lithuania-Alita on Saturday in their final exhibition game. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

NU will be looking to smooth out other wrinkles in its offense besides its long-range shooting woes.

The Cats have been working on both their zone offense and zone defense. Carmody said that they’ve been focusing on controlling their half-court sets as well. NU was productive on fast breaks last Sunday, scoring 12 points off them.

“What an exhibition game does is tell you the things you have to work on,” NU coach Bill Carmody said. “We have to work on some of our half-court offense.”

And while the Cats found ways to score in their half-court set — they scored 47 of their 84 points in the paint — they did encounter some trouble when the International All-Stars switched to a zone defense. NU had not yet practiced against that set.

“I said, ‘Listen, we haven’t worked against any zone, so don’t play zone,'” Carmody said he told the International All-Stars’ coach. “He said, ‘fine,’ but then he was down 12 and he went zone out of the timeout. I said, ‘You son of a gun.'”

NU must also correct the petty miscues in its offense, Blake said, including missed passes and hitting the open gaps.

“A lot of the guys came in with that (game) tape and saw a lot of the things that we missed, such as open passes that might not have looked open at the moment,” Blake said. “We try to make sure we emphasize to get those passes to those guys and continue to run the offense over and over.”

Added sophomore guard Jitim Young: “Yesterday’s practice was great. It was a physical practice. Right now we’re looking great — shots falling. I’m feeling very confident about my offense and my defense.”

The Cats should expect a “rugged” game from Lithuania, Carmody added. The second-year coach said he plans on studying tape and preparing a game plan against Lithuania like he does for regular season games.

After all, Sunday’s game isn’t a joking matter, even though it’s an exhibition game.

“I think winning is very important, especially in the final game going into the regular season,” Young said. “It gives us confidence for the next game.

“Playing against a team like Lithuania, who doesn’t know anything about us, we should be able to score right off the bat. Every possession we have we should be able to score or get a shot off.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Second chance the last for Cats