Men’s Basketball: Dave Sobolewski’s return a welcome addition for depleted Northwestern lineup

Rohan Nadkarni, Reporter

Northwestern’s depth — or lack thereof — may have gotten a boost Saturday.

After missing four games with a concussion, junior point guard Dave Sobolewski returned to action in the Wildcats’ 76-50 loss against Iowa.

Sobolewski, who started for most of his first two seasons under former coach Bill Carmody, came off the bench and played 10 minutes for the Wildcats. Sobolewski had not missed a game in his career until this month.

“It was an interesting week,” Sobolewski said of his recovery. “There was a stretch where I just had a constant headache, but all that’s behind me. I’m ready to go, and I feel great physically.”

The junior made a small impact during his time on the court, dishing out three assists but also picking up three fouls. Sobolewski missed his two shots, both 3-point attempts.

“He hasn’t been with us, and we’ve played well,” coach Chris Collins said. “With his injury, he didn’t do a lot for a couple weeks. He’s got to get his game legs back. We don’t have a lot of depth. We don’t just need him, we need him to play well.

Interestingly, Sobolewski did not spend all of his time on the court running the point. Later in the second half, Sobolewski shared the court with redshirt junior guard JerShon Cobb and played off the ball.

The Cats enjoyed some success recently without Sobolewski on the court, winning three of their four games before dropping Saturday’s contest. However, the guard adds another warm body to a team desperately needing players.

“Dave’s a guy that really needs to be a leader for us,” senior forward Drew Crawford said. “It’s good to have him back out there. He’s strong with the ball. He’s really capable of running the team. “

The Cats had only seven players play at least 10 minutes Saturday, with five playing 28 or more. In contrast, Iowa played 10 players at least 10 minutes, with none over 26.

“Our guys have to play a lot of minutes,” Collins said. “There are just not a whole lot of options. Our main guys have to play.”

Crawford wouldn’t concede the depth of other Big Ten teams frustrates NU.

“You get used to it. We kind of have our lineup that’s pretty set now,” Crawford said. (The depth is) something that you just have to adjust to. You just have to be ready for it. “

The impact Sobolewski can make on the court once he returns to full strength remains in question. The junior has posted career lows across the board so far this season, averaging fewer points, rebounds, assists and steals than in his first two seasons, while his turnovers have gone up.

He’s also shot much worse from the field. Sobolewski’s field goal percentage has dropped to 25.9 percent from 38.4 percent last year. His 3-point percentage has been nearly cut in half since last season, to 17.2 percent.

If Sobolewski could return to the form of his first two seasons, he would be a welcome addition to the Cats’ thin lineup. But while Sobolewski insisted he felt great physically, it’s unclear if he has fully recovered mentally.

“Every season is a fresh start,” Sobolewski said. “You have to keep your emotions in check. You just try to stay level-headed and try not to get too high or too low. “

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