Thursday, October 2, 2014

Big Ten Basketball Preview: #12 Northwestern Wildcats

Well it was a run.  Northwestern did everything they could do grab that elusive (to them, not to anyone else) first ever NCAA Tournament bid and fell short year after year.  Now there's no John Shurna.  There's no Drew Crawford.  There's no Juice Thompson.  There's no Luka Mirkovic.  There's just Dave Sobolewski and his lesbian haircut.  Well there's also hope because of this new coach guy you maybe heard about, Chris Collins.  Yeah the weiner from Duke.  No not Wojo, he's at Marquette.  The other one, the one with some talent, and he's already making a difference because he signed Vic Law, ESPN's 66th ranked prospect for 2014, as well as a handful of other quality recruits between 2014 and 2015.  This year, however, Northwestern probably isn't looking at that first bid, but they do have enough to remain dangerous.

The biggest reason for this danger is Tre Demps, who is a great chucker (26% of team shots when on the floor despite a 45.7% eFG%) but is also made of stone balls.  Here's what he did in Northwestern's conference wins last season:  Three pointer against the Gophers in a tie game with 54 seconds remaining. Five points and three assists in a four minute span against Wisconsin to give Northwestern control of the game. Game tying 3-pointer with a minute left in overtime against Purdue and then 4-4 on free throws in double OT to close it out. Thirteen straight points at the end of the game against Indiana. Three 3-pointers in a row down the stretch against Illinois.  He's a chucker for sure, and his overall numbers don't make you squeal from last year (11.0ppg, 38% FG) he clearly has an ability to step up in the the big moment.  So, you know, I'd recommend the Gophers don't, you know, let Northwestern hang around until Demps just goes ahead and wins the game for them.

Demps will be joined on the wing by JerShon Cobb, the team's leading returning scorer at 12.2 points per game.  He's more consistent and efficient than Demps, and will likely be their go to guy for the majority of the game until Demps decides he wants to rip some hearts out.  Cobb was a pretty big deal recruit back when, but has had injury problems his whole career including leg problems that shut him down early last season.  If he can stay healthy he has All-Big 10 type talent, as evidenced by his four 20+ point games against quality opponents last season, but that's a big if.

With Demps, Cobb, and Law the Wildcats should be solid and athletic on the wing, which will help their league best defense from last season return, but that's about where the good news ends.  Alex Olah will be the starting center though he's limited on offense and a horrendous rebounder for a 7-footer, though 6-10 transfer from Yale Jeremiah Kreisberg might end up stealing that spot.  It's probably best for Northwestern if he does.  There's decent, if unproven, depth with Sanjay Lumpkin and Nathan Taphorn.  Taphorn should inherit the "wander around and shoot some threes" role from the departed Kale Abrahamson.

Point guard is a real issue, as Dave Sobolewski just fell off a cliff last season, putting up some truly hideous shooting numbers (18% from 3, 26% overall) and putting up the worst turnover and foul rates of his career.  He did suffer a concussion midseason, missing four games in a row and genearlly having trouble getting back into the swing of things, but he was having a rough year prior to that anyway and with Collins playing more man-to-man than Carmody did, Sobolewski's contributions may be limited.  That either means Demps plays more point (super chucker alert!) or freshman Bryant McIntosh takes over.  McIntosh is a fringe top 200 kid, but he should fit in well at Northwestern because he just looks so freaking annoying.  Seriously.

So Punchable.  Plus his name is Bryant McIntosh for pete's sake.

It's an interesting time, and probably a fun one, to be a Northwestern fan as they've managed to take a string of failed seasons and recycle them back into optimism with an exciting new coach who is bringing in a whole slew of new players.  It'll be interesting to see how and if Collins changes the program (and how long he sticks around, if successful).  He seems to be recruiting a more athletic player, so the slow down game may shortly be a thing of the past.  Lotta hope in Evanston, and with good reason, even if everyone still misses Luka.

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Anonymous said...

Is your job to cut down every team and then try to pump sunshine up our ass that the Gophers are special. Your writing sucks as bad as you are as a person. Have fun living in a van down by the river. A loser surrounds himself with negativity. You must get off on negative attention loser.

WWWWWW said...

I feel kind of like maybe you should read all your comments this morning and then re-read this part about a loser surrounding himself with negativity and then think about your life for a little while.

Also living in a van down by the river would be sweet.