Men’s Basketball: Foul trouble on four Wildcats defuses any rhythm in the second half


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Dererk Pardon shoots a three. The senior center fouled out of the game in Wednesday’s loss.

Peter Warren, Web Editor

Men’s Basketball

For most of the season, Northwestern’s players, especially their core group, have been adroit at staying out of foul trouble.

But against an Iowa outfit that was able to match up well with the Wildcats, foul trouble played a critical role for NU (10-6, 1-4 Big Ten) down the stretch as the Hawkeyes (13-3, 2-3) took advantage and ended up on top, 73-63.

“I thought they did a really good job of attacking our paint in the second half and got us in a lot of foul trouble, which affected the game,” coach Chris Collins said.

Three Cats finished the game with four fouls — senior forward Vic Law, graduate guard Ryan Taylor and junior center Barret Benson — and senior center Dererk Pardon fouled out before the under-four media timeout.

While Taylor’s fourth foul came with just under six minutes to play and he did not sub out afterwards, the fourth foul for the other three players resulted in an immediate substitution and impacted the team’s rotation. Pardon earned No. 4 with 11:58 remaining and reentered three minutes and 20 seconds later when Benson earned his fourth.The two were substituted two more times before Pardon fouled out.

At the end of the first half, Law had zero personal fouls, but after just seven minutes of second-half action, Law was on the bench with four. Joe Wieskamp, who finished with a game-high 19 points, drew three fouls on the senior forward and Isaiah Moss drew the other foul on Law.

“That was definitely our game plan to get those guys in foul trouble,” Moss said. “We know with them on the bench they are a different team, so we just tried to be aggressive and get them in foul trouble.”

Law returned with 9:14 left and immediately made his impact shown. On his first play back in the game, the Cats ran a post-up for the 6-foot-7 forward, who made a nice move and drew a foul on forward Maishe Dailey. He knocked down both free throws to make it a five-point game. But that was as close as NU would get down the stretch.

When Law came back, the Cats defense returned to the 2-3 zone they started the game playing, and Collins said that one of the reasons they went to a 2-3 zone was to keep their players out of foul trouble. He said the physicality of the game could be seen in the post play.

“There’s a lot of contact down there. They pound the paint, they go inside and it is not always on the big guys,” Collins said. “The guards have to do a better job of making those passes tougher, the entry pases. The big guys have to do their work to try to make it a tough entry pass as well as the guards.”

Luka Garza was a menace for the NU defense to deal with throughout the game. Coming off the bench, he finished with 16 points and five rebounds. But what was even more detrimental was his efficiency earning trips to the charity stripe.

Garza drew nine fouls during the game. All five of Pardon’s fouls were against Garza and three of Benson’s four came against the D.C. native. Not only did Garza earn the fouls, but he finished them off too, going 10-for-11 from the charity stripe.

“They were able to get really deep position with guys behind them, whether it was Dererk or Barret,” Collins said. “(Garza) is a physical guy — he creates contact and he does a good job getting himself to the line.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @thepeterwarren