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Men’s Basketball: Notes from Northwestern’s exhibition rout of Illinois-Springfield

Men’s Basketball: Notes from Northwestern’s exhibition rout of Illinois-Springfield
(Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang)

Northwestern walked away from its exhibition contest Friday night against Illinois-Springfield with a predictable double-digit victory. Freshman guard Isiah Brown led the way with 18 points as the Wildcats topped the Prairie Stars 89-52.

With nonexistent stakes and a decided outcome from the opening tip, the game offered plenty of opportunities for coach Chris Collins to experiment with different lineups.

Takeaways

Dererk Pardon injury scares are not fun

The sophomore center looked good when in, scoring 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting and adding four rebounds and three blocks. But he also left the game in the second half limping and holding his leg after heading into the tunnel earlier. According to Collins, Pardon had taken a knee to the thigh and was tightening but was ultimately fine.

He and freshman Barret Benson — who played surprisingly sparingly in the exhibition — constitute the team’s extremely thin center tandem and an injury to either would be costly.

Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly are set to have big roles …

Last season, playing time for the then-sophomores was largely dictated by team need. When the offense needed energy or an athlete on the perimeter, it subbed accordingly. This year, it appears as though the Cats intend to lean on the third year duo in a broader sense.

Lindsey started the exhibition and finished with 13 points, going 2-of-3 from deep. Skelly saw plenty of action, playing both the 5 in NU’s small ball set and the 4 alongside another big. He ran the floor nicely and spaced the floor well, despite scoring only six points.

… but Brown might be the biggest X-Factor of them all

The freshman’s trademark scoring ability was on full display. Brown shot the ball well from deep and attacked the basket with confidence. Perhaps his best play of the day came in transition when Brown maneuvered through defenders and finished an acrobatic layup.

He’ll be leaned on as a shot-creator in the same vein as Tre Demps and appears to have a substantial role within the offense. If he can continue to score efficiently and in loads against higher-caliber opponents, Brown has the potential to be one of the offense’s most dynamic players.

Other notes

  • Benson looked very raw in the limited action he saw. It’s expected — he is, of course, a freshman — but will need to develop better instincts given the role he is expected to assume.
  • Vic Law (11 points) struggled out of the gate but found a rhythm late. After missing a chain of three-pointers, he finished the game connecting on a pair, hitting a jumper in between.
  • Jordan Ash looks doomed to the bench yet again. Brown figures to run the offense when Bryant McIntosh sits.
  • As for McIntosh, the newly-named captain struggled from beyond the arc, going 0-of-3 and scoring 11. The exhibition offered little evidence that the point guard took the next step, but it’s far too early to worry.

Men’s Basketball: Freshman Rapolas Ivanauskas to miss 2016-17 season

Northwestern freshman forward Rapolas Ivanauskas will miss the 2016-17 men’s basketball season as he recovers from shoulder surgery, the program announced Monday.

In the press release, coach Chris Collins said he expects a full recovery in four to six months. It is likely that Ivanauskas will be redshirted to preserve his four years of eligibility.

Ranked No. 97 in the nation by Rivals in the 2016 recruiting class, the 6-foot-9 Illinois native was the Wildcats’ top rated recruit and was expected to bring a much-needed scoring presence to NU’s frontcourt. After spending three years at Barrington High School and receiving all-state recognition from several outlets following his junior season, Ivanauskas transferred to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for his senior year.

The loss of the forward depletes NU’s post options as the team looks to replace the production of graduated center Alex Olah. Freshman center Barret Benson is now the only player on roster who stands above 6-foot-8, with sophomore Dererk Pardon, junior Gavin Skelly and senior Nathan Taphorn listed at 6-foot-8.

Men’s Basketball: 2017-2018 home games to be played in Allstate Arena during Welsh-Ryan renovations

Men’s Basketball: 2017-2018 home games to be played in Allstate Arena during Welsh-Ryan renovations
(Source: Northwestern Athletics)

One Northwestern team has found a home during renovations to Welsh-Ryan Arena, as the athletic department announced in a release Tuesday that the men’s basketball team will play its home games in the 2017-2018 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.

The arena, which is a half-hour or more drive from the Wildcats’ Evanston campus, is the current host of DePaul’s basketball teams. With the Blue Demons planning to move into a new downtown arena in the fall of 2017, NU will temporarily take their place as Allstate Arena’s college basketball tenant.

Athletic department spokesman Paul Kennedy said venue size and proximity to Evanston were major factors in the decision to move 2017-2018 home games to Allstate Arena, which seats roughly 18,500. Additionally, he said that the arena’s past experience hosting college basketball games and its ability to commit to a number of necessary open dates played a part in the decision.

Tuesday’s announcement did not discuss arrangements for game-day transportation for students to the arena. Kennedy said providing transportation from Evanston for students is a priority, but a plan to do so isn’t in place yet.

Additionally, Kennedy said that details about plans for the other teams displaced by the renovations, the women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams, will be made public soon.

In June, the athletic department announced plans for a “complete renovation” of Welsh-Ryan Arena, slated to cost roughly $110 million and take place from the end of the 2016-2017 basketball season until the fall of 2018.

This post has been updated with comment from Paul Kennedy.

Men’s Basketball: Wildcats finalize tip times and television coverage

With the release of ESPN’s Big Ten programming this year, Northwestern finalized its tip times and television coverage for this upcoming season.

The Wildcats will have 19 games on the Big Ten Network over the course of the season. In addition, NU will have 3 games covered by ESPN. The Cats’ two match-ups against Rutgers on Jan. 12 and Feb. 18 will both be on ESPNU, while their game at Penn State on Dec. 27 will feature on ESPN2.

The schedule this year poses some different challenges for NU this season. After taking out Wisconsin at home in arguable their strongest win of the season, the Cats will have to travel to Madison to play the Badgers on the road this year. In addition, NU will lose its home-court advantage that it had against Michigan State last season, as the Cats will travel to play the Spartans on Dec. 30.

However, Northwestern does have some home games that may play to its advantage. In changes from last season, Iowa comes to Evanston to play at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Jan. 15, and NU will get Michigan at home this year late in the season on Mar. 1.

Until then, the Cats will look to tip things off in their home opener against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Men’s basketball Big Ten game dates released

The final piece of the puzzle for Northwestern’s men’s basketball schedule is finally in place, as the Big Ten announced its conference schedule Thursday.

The Wildcats will open Big Ten play at Penn State, kicking off a stretch of four road games in five to start the conference season featuring perennial contenders Michigan State and some of the conference’s lesser lights in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Rutgers.

Other schedule highlights include a few consecutive-game stretches against quality opponents, such as back-to-back games against Indiana and Purdue and against Wisconsin and Maryland. A three-game stretch featuring the Hoosiers, Michigan and the Boilermakers closes out NU’s conference slate with a few chances to pick up good wins heading into the postseason.

Toronto Raptors sign former guard Drew Crawford

Toronto Raptors sign former guard Drew Crawford
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

The Toronto Raptors agreed to a deal with former Northwestern guard Drew Crawford, the team announced Thursday. After finishing as a top-10 scorer in Israel for Bnei Hertzeliyya, Crawford received an invitation to play for the Raptors in the NBA Las Vegas summer league. Crawford played in five games for Toronto, averaging 8 points per game and shooting 50 percent from the field.

Despite receiving a contract from the Raptors, Crawford is not guaranteed a spot on the roster to begin the season, as the team currently has 18 players listed on its roster, three more than the 15 allowed at the start of the season.

The Wildcats haven’t had a player on a NBA roster during the regular season since Evan Eschmeyer played 17 games for the Dallas Mavericks in 2003. Toronto coach Dwane Casey said Crawford was very close to making the team last year, but fell just short. However, the guard impressed the team this time around with his combination of high-intensity on-ball defense and his ability to create his own shot.

Crawford, who averaged 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds for NU, will have to compete with the likes of Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell for a role with the team. Wright, a standout at Utah, was a first-round pick in 2015 and Powell was drafted in the second round in the same draft and flashed majorly with expanded playing time at the end of last season. Like Crawford, VanVleet went undrafted and will also have to prove his worth to the organization.

It will be difficult for Crawford to make the final roster for the Raptors, considering the already talented team is so deep at guard, but Crawford’s signing is promising for the future of Cats basketball and players who plan on playing beyond Welsh-Ryan.

Summer League Roundup: Olah provides spark in summer league playoffs

Every year, the NBA Summer League is a showcase event for players on the fringes of  basketball  looking for a shot at NBA glory. Stay with The Daily for updates on the summer league play of past Northwestern players trying to make a name for themselves at the next level.


After scoring a combined 6 points in his first three summer league games, Northwestern product Alex Olah made a name for himself on Wednesday. The center shot a near perfect 7-of-8 from the field and tallied 14 points in 16 minutes for the New Orleans Pelicans. Olah had shot only 30 percent from the field to date in summer league, but the Romanian big got the start and stepped up his efficiency in the Pelicans’ playoff loss to the Miami Heat.

For the first time in summer-league action Olah looked comfortable with the ball in his hands. He was able to make his way into the paint and finish at the rim. However, the former Wildcat struggled on the boards. Olah had difficulty securing rebounds in college, and he finished the game with only one rebound. The big man will need to be more effective on the glass going forward if he wants to keep his professional dream alive.

Ex-NU guard Reggie Hearn also took the court Wednesday, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA D-League Select team’s playoff game. Hearn showed off his ability to shoot the three again against the 76ers, knocking down 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. But the guard had trouble finding his rhythm, scoring 8 points on 3-of-8 shooting after scoring 15 points in his last game.

Olah and Hearn will face each other in a consolation game Friday when the Pelicans match up with the NBA D-League Select team.

Summer League Roundup: Hearn impresses, Olah sees more time

Summer League Roundup: Hearn impresses, Olah sees more time

Every year, the NBA Summer League is a showcase event for players on the fringes of  basketball  looking for a shot at NBA glory. Stay with The Daily for updates on the summer league play of past Northwestern players trying to make a name for themselves at the next level.


Ex-Wildcat guard Reggie Hearn had a big game for the NBA D-League Select team on Monday, scoring 15 points in just over 20 minutes in a 89-71 win over the Houston Rockets. Hearn was able to get into a rhythm and connected on three of his six three-pointers in the game. He finished the night shooting 5-8 from the field, played the sixth most minutes on the team and didn’t record a single turnover.

The former Northwestern sharpshooter is starting to find his stroke in this year’s summer league and is now 5-8 from three in his last two games. Hearn has impressed with his scoring ability, but his ability to facilitate and find open shooters has been questionable.

Drew Crawford also took the court on Monday for the Toronto Raptors against the Dallas Mavericks, tallying 6 points on 3-5 shooting in a victory. He recorded a single assist, missed both of his three-point attempts and struggled to make a big impact on the game.

The former Cats guard has had a relatively lackluster showing in summer league so far, seeing limited minutes off the bench for the Raptors. However, Toronto is currently 3-0 and is looking at a spot in the summer league playoffs, so Crawford will have another opportunity to prove himself.

Former NU center Alex Olah also registered significant minutes for the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night. The big man finished with 6 points, three rebounds and a block against the Sacramento Kings in the Pelicans’ 70-66 win. Olah was on the court for just under 22 minutes and converted on three of his seven field goal attempts.

The center was noticeably active as a screener on offense, setting frequent off-ball screens to free up shooters. He also often tried to run the pick-and-roll with his New Orleans teammates, but couldn’t seem to get a touch of the ball down low. Olah wasn’t the most graceful player on the court, taking several ill-contested shots. With just one minute left in the game and the Pelicans up by three, the center took a contested hook shot in the post which slammed against the backboard and missed the rim wide left.

Olah didn’t look comfortable with the ball in his hands but he was able to command the paint on defense. The NU standout did a stellar job containing Kings big man Willie Cauley-Stein inside, moved his feet quickly to corral penetration, and only committed three fouls in the game. For Olah, who wasn’t known for his defense in college, it was a positive sign that he might be able to keep up on that end at the next level.

Summer League Roundup: Olah makes debut for New Orleans

Summer League Roundup: Olah makes debut for New Orleans
(Daily file photo by Aleah Matthews-Renner)

Every year, the NBA Summer League is a showcase event for players on the fringes of  basketball  looking for a shot at NBA glory. Stay with The Daily for updates on the summer league play of past Northwestern players trying to make a name for themselves at the next level.


Former Northwestern center Alex Olah made his debut in the NBA Summer League on Sunday, joining three other Wildcats in summer league action.

Olah failed to record a single minute in his first game with the New Orleans Pelicans, but NU’s all-time leader in blocks played 15 minutes against the Utah Jazz.The Romanian product went 0-3 from the field and finished the game with 0 points.

However, Olah managed to make a difference in the paint, grabbing five rebounds and blocking two shots. Olah struggled to find his touch around the rim, but the big man’s rebounding ability looked improved compared to his collegiate career. Olah will play his next game on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings.

Along with Olah, former guards Drew Crawford and Reggie Hearn saw some time in their respective games. Crawford played just over 19 minutes for the Raptors in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, finishing with 7 points on 3-6 shooting. He continued to impress defensively, tallying a steal and a block, but faced trouble with turnovers and missed both of his 3-point attempts. It seems Crawford has worked his way into a prominent role in Toronto’s summer rotation, as he played the fifth most minutes on the team last night.

Hearn suited up for the NBA D-League Select team again on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks and put up improved shooting numbers over his first game, scoring 8 points in 17 minutes. Hearn went 3-4 from the field, including 2-2 from three-point range. But the guard has yet to standout among the amalgam of D-Leaguers, and will have to boost his scoring numbers to attract the attention of NBA scouts and coaches.

While three Cats took the court on Sunday, NU standout Tre Demps didn’t play a single minute for the Chicago Bulls against the Philadelphia 76ers, his second straight game without an appearance for the team. Demps averaged 15.7 points per game last season for the Cats and was known for his ability to create his own shot, but he was one of only three players for the Bulls not to play. He will get another chance for playing time on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs to get playing time.

Summer League Roundup: Crawford, Hearn take court in Las Vegas

Every year, the NBA Summer League is a showcase event for players on the fringes of  basketball  looking for a shot at NBA glory. Stay with The Daily for updates on the summer league play of past Northwestern players trying to make a name for themselves at the next level.


Three former Northwestern players started their summer league seasons on Friday, vying for a chance to make a NBA roster.

Guard Reggie Hearn, who ended his Cats career in 2013 and averaged 13.4 points per game in his final season, got the day underway against the Memphis Grizzlies. After starting 22 games for the Reno Bighorns in the NBA D-League last season and averaging 11.5 points per game, Hearn earned an invitation to compete with the NBA D-League Select team.

Despite having a successful season with the Bighorns, Hearn didn’t make much of an impact in his summer-league opener, a 99-79 loss to the Grizzlies. Hearn played just under 18 minutes in the game, missed both of his 3-point attempts and finished with 4 points and a rebound. Hearn will have to wait until Sunday to get back on the court, when his team takes on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Along with Hearn, former guard Drew Crawford opened his summer league season on Friday. After finishing as a top-ten scorer in Israel last season, Crawford scored 8 points and recorded two assists in the Toronto Raptors 88-47 win over the Sacramento Kings. In the blowout, Crawford knocked down both of his three-point attempts and played solid on-ball defense, forcing opposing guards into difficult decisions and drawing offensive fouls.

During the game’s broadcast, Raptors coach Dwane Casey made an appearance and said Crawford was very close to making the team after last year’s summer league and will have a legitimate chance to make the roster this year. Crawford will return to action on Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Rounding out NU notables in Friday’s games was Cats all-time blocks leader Alex Olah, who was one of three New Orleans Pelicans players not to play in the team’s opening game against the Los Angeles Lakers. New Orleans faces Utah on Sunday, when Olah will get another opportunity to potentially see the floor.