Bill Carmody admits his team's confidence is waning, which is no surprise given what the injury-ravaged Wildcats have gone through this season.
Northwestern has lost five straight since senior forward Jared Swopshire became the latest player to be lost for the season because of an injury.The 'Cats have been outscored by a combined 80 points in their last three losses.
"It's wavering but we're trying to teach them and expose them," Carmody said during Monday's Big Ten Conference coaches' conference call. "I don't know. I have to think just playing and going through this is going to be better for them. Now that they're getting all these minutes, you would like to have some Lou Gehrig situation where all they needed was a chance and now all of a sudden they start scoring 20 points per game but those things don't happen too often. I don't think it's happening with our guys but they are still pretty solid and getting better."
Carmody has four freshmen among his top six players, all of which are trying to overcome learning curves in the nation's toughest conference.
Freshman Kale Abrahamson is a shooter who has struggled to create shots this season, for example. Carmody and his staff encouraged him to put the ball on the floor during Sunday night's 74-43 loss at Purdue and while he did, he used a jump stop almost exclusively, prompting Carmody to underline the importance of drawing contact.
It's the same with freshman center Alex Olah, who must be constantly reminded to dunk when finishing inside.
"The guys have to stay together and be positive and for our staff I's the same thing. We have to point out the good things they are doing along with holding them accountable for what they're not doing well."
The Wildcats host Ohio State on Thursday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.