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Short-handed Northwestern basketball looking for scoring help

Updated: January 2, 2013 11:59PM

Northwestern football players were still accepting congratulations after arriving home from their Gator Bowl triumph when basketball coach Bill Carmody was asked if upsetting No. 2 Michigan in his team’s Big Ten opener would be a fitting encore.

Now that the football team has ended its 64-year bowl drought the last elephant in the athletic department is the basketball program’s 74-year NCAA Tournament snub.

Those hoping both skeins would end in the same year learned Wednesday that senior Reggie Hearn and freshman Sanjay Lumpkin will not play Thursday night against the Wolverines at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

It was more bad news for a basketball program that has seen more than its fair share of rotten luck in recent years.

“We’ve had some good players get hurt,” Carmody said. “That’s all I’ll say.”

Hearn did some light running Wednesday but still hasn’t practiced since twisting his ankle in a loss to Stanford on Dec. 21.

Lumpkin injured his wrist during a recent practice after playing in only four games due partly to a bout with mononucleosis. Lumpkin could be redshirted if doctors determine his injury is season-ending.

The Wildcats (9-4) had trouble scoring when the roster was healthy. With Drew Crawford out after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, and Hearn sidelined, Carmody is now without his top two scorers.

“Three weeks ago, we had Drew and Reggie and they gave me 30 a game,” Carmody said. “Where are we going to get the scoring from?”

The schedule is no help. Not only is Michigan 12-0 but NU will play five of its first seven Big Ten games against teams ranked among the top 11 teams in the country.

“Every team we play seems to be ranked,” sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski said. “We’re not scared of that. Come March we know the more wins we have against these caliber of teams is important for us, so we see it as a big opportunity.”

Carmody has been simplifying the offense because as many as five freshmen or redshirt freshmen must play major minutes heading into their inaugural Big Ten seasons.

Redshirt freshman Tre Demps, for example, must handle more of the scoring load.

“It’s nothing to be scared of,” said Sobolewsiki, who played a significant role as a freshman. “It’s playing a game you’ve been playing since you were a little kid. The game doesn’t change. The opponents might. The freshman have to see this as exciting and be ready to go and what more fun is there than playing the No. 2 team in the nation to start the Big Ten season? It’s a blast. I hope these guys aren’t scared. I hope they’re ready to go.”

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