Embattled Cats search for answers (Women’s Basketball)

Jimmy Mitchell

The Wildcats have endured a great number of setbacks during the 2007-08 season.

Numerous injuries, poor performances, and what is now a nine-game losing streak have plagued Northwestern’s current campaign.

The Cats (4-16, 0-8 Big Ten) will try to halt that slump on Thursday before they reach a 10th straight loss. The surging Iowa Hawkeyes (13-7, 6-3 Big Ten) will come to Welsh-Ryan Arena in an attempt to push NU even further into the Big Ten’s basement.

Despite NU’s 0-8 record against Big Ten opponents and the absence of a Cats’ victory for the last month and a half, sophomore guard Jenny Eckhart has witnessed improvements and signs of life. She even saw positives in NU’s recent 75-45 blowout at the hands of Wisconsin on Jan. 27.

“In our postgame speech, coach (Beth Combs) is always emphasizing that we do some good things, and we need to recognize that as well as what we need to fix,” Eckhart said. “The fact that we played (Wisconsin) almost even in the second half is a bit of a bright spot. As usual we’d like to put two good halves together.”

Despite the devastating nature of the Cats’ loss to the second-worst team in the Big Ten, Eckhart still believes in NU’s ability to break out from its recent ignominy and upset one of the conference powerhouses. She pointed to Iowa’s loss to Michigan on Dec. 30 as an illustration of the Hawkeyes’ vulnerability.

“There are nights where (Iowa) doesn’t play as well. They are vulnerable to be beaten by any team that is possibly not as good,” Eckhart said. “So I really do think we have a chance to win. We scout, and we prepare ourselves for the opportunity to upset a good team.”

Combs has continuously referred to this season as a rebuilding year for the Cats. While a winning season for NU is impossible, the team does not appear ready to concede the remaining games on its Big Ten schedule.

An upset in Evanston on Thursday would go a long way towards setting a positive tone for the rest of the year for NU.

“Even though it might be a rebuilding year, you can’t write off the season,” Eckhart said. “Eventually it can’t be enough for us to say that we’ve played better. It’s harder to recognize the strides you’re making when you’re not winning.”

Reach Jimmy Mitchell at

[email protected]