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

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

The Daily Northwestern

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Fatigue take its toll on NU guards (Men’s Basketball)

Craig Moore and Michael Thompson play a lot of basketball.

Not only do they practice a lot, but once Northwestern takes the court against Big Ten foes, the two guards rarely come out. When they do, it is only for short breathers.

In conference play Moore is averaging 35 minutes per game and Thompson a shade over 36.

While there are mixed feelings about the effect of fatigue on the team’s play, there is no doubt that NU (7-16, 0-12 Big Ten) has been hitting a wall after 30 minutes of play in conference games.

“I don’t know if it’s the main factor,” senior guard Jason Okrzesik said. “But playing 35-36 minutes a game is a lot.”

Okrzesik is one of two guards to spell the starters off the bench this season, along with sophomore Jeremy Nash. But while he was effective early in the year, Okrzesik has seen his playing time dwindle recently due to minor injuries, illnesses and a cold shooting streak.

“Jason will play more and more now,” NU coach Bill Carmody said. “He’s trying to get over the strep throat he had, but he’ll be back to around 20 minutes (a game).”

Okrzesik’s recent illness took a little spark out of his game, but Carmody said he is confident the senior will be healthy when the Cats take on Iowa (11-15, 4-9) Tuesday.

Thompson has not just been playing a lot of minutes; his style of play leads to a lot of physical punishment. Last Saturday against Purdue, Thompson slid out of bounds into an official to go along with his many drives to the hoop with little care for his own safety.

But while the hits take their toll, they do not deter him from playing basketball his way.

“It affects me mentally because I feel they aren’t getting a lot of fouls,” Thompson said. “I just have to keep attacking and trying to draw for contact and do a better job at finishing.”

In order to stay fresh between games after getting hacked down low by the Big Ten’s big men, Thompson and Moore have their own ways to stay healthy and pain free. Moore said he utilizes the team’s masseuse, while Thompson stretches and hits the cold soak after games and practices to keep his legs fresh.

According the Carmody, the problem is not unique to NU.

“I think that most teams are a little tired,” Carmody said. “No one plays more than nine guys, some are seven and a half. Not many teams go more than eight deep.”

The problem for the Cats is that keeping scoring threats like Moore and Thompson, who are averaging 13.3 and 12.3 points per game, on the bench is hard to do when the reserves aren’t scoring.

Junior guard Sterling Williams’ minutes have been decreasing, and though he has started all the Cats’ Big Ten games, he has scored only five points total in the last three games. Nash has played well for the Cats of late and has been rewarded with playing time, but he has not produced consistently on offense either.

“(Nash) has to prove he can make shots and can post up,” Carmody said. “Last year he didn’t shoot the ball well at all. He is gaining his confidence, but you can’t play 28 minutes and get two points.”

Changing things on offense could help the Cats avoid the igominity of an 0-16 season in the Big Ten. Moore said he is willing to challenge himself to add more to his game if that helps the team.

“I figure the game should be layups and 3 pointers,” he said. “But yeah, if I can get in there and take some more inside shots, it may help the team; (the other team) will have to guard me when I’m dribbling. It’s definitely something to look into.”

NU?? vs. Iowa

(7-16, 0-12) (11-15, 4-9)

Place/Time: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa/Today 8:00 PM

Last NU win vs. Iowa: Feb. 8, 2006 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

NU Player to Watch: Craig Moore has made 18 of 41 3-point attempts in his last five games and has had five assists in four of those games.

Iowa Player to Watch: Senior guard Justin Johnson has been Iowa’s ironman this season, playing in all 26 contests while contributing 12.3 points per game.

NU wins if: It can stop Iowa from shooting more than 50 percent from the floor.

Iowa wins if: It can make NU shoot the long ball.

DAILY Prediction: NU 62-61

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Fatigue take its toll on NU guards (Men’s Basketball)