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Demps snags summer league spot with Chicago Bulls

Demps snags summer league spot with Chicago Bulls
(Daily file photo by Sam Schumacher)

Northwestern’s men’s basketball had two graduating seniors this season, and now both of them have found chances to impress at the next level. Guard Tre Demps, the Wildcats’ leading scorer last season, is set to appear with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, per his agency.

Demps will join center Alex Olah, who is playing with the New Orleans Pelicans, in Las Vegas.

After slumping through the first half of the conference season, Demps ended his career at NU by scoring more than 14 points in each of his last 10 games. While his efficiency wasn’t great, shooting 39.8 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from 3, Demps was a key creator for the Cats, leading the team in minutes and shots and earning all-Big Ten honorable mention recognition from the media. He now gets a chance to prove that his game can translate to the NBA for Chicago, a team in transition in the backcourt after trading star point guard Derrick Rose.

The Bulls play their first summer league game July 9 at 5:00 p.m. against the Boston Celtics.

Crawford to play with Raptors in summer league

Crawford to play with Raptors in summer league
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

Northwestern’s all-time leader in games played Drew Crawford told The Daily that he will play for the Toronto Raptors in the 2016 Las Vegas NBA Summer League from July 8-18. The guard is also registered to compete a team of former Wildcats in The Basketball Tournament held in Chicago, but the summer league will interfere with the first round of the tournament.

“I’m going to focus on summer league, but after it’s over with I’ll look forward to playing in the tournament,” Crawford told The Daily.

Crawford last played for NU during the 2013-2014 season, when he averaged 15.7 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. In his program-record 143 games played, Crawford boasted a .369 shooting percentage from three while scoring 1169 career points.

Last season, the former NU star played in Israel for Bnei Herzeliya and averaged 16.2 points per game. Crawford was the No. 11 scorer in Israel’s Winner League.

“My focus is definitely on summer league,” Crawford said. “That’s the big thing to advance the career, to keep moving forward in my career.”

This is not Crawford’s first time playing in the summer league, as he has already had stints with New Orleans, Toronto and Orlando. After not receiving a spot on the Pelicans following the 2014 summer league, Crawford was picked up by the Magic for a brief period of time. He then went on to play a season in the NBA Developmental League for the Erie Bayhawks, where he averaged just over 16 points per game, before making 2015 summer league appearances with both the Magic and the Raptors.

The Raptors play the Sacramento Kings in the team’s first summer league game on Friday, July 8 at 9 p.m. CST.

Olah gets NBA Summer League invite

Olah gets NBA Summer League invite
(Daily file photo by Sam Schumacher)

Former Northwestern center Alex Olah, Northwestern’s all-time leader in blocked shots, will get a shot with the New Orleans Pelicans this summer.

After not being selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday, Olah announced that he would play for the Pelicans from July 8-18 in the 2016 Las Vegas NBA Summer League. He will play his first game against the Los Angeles Lakers on July 8 at 9:30 p.m. CST.

Olah is one of three Wildcats players who was eligible to be drafted Thursday night, joining guard Tre Demps and center Joey van Zegeren. Demps and van Zegeren have not announced summer league invites yet. Demps’ father, Dell, is the general manager of New Orleans.

Olah averaged 11.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game and 1.4 blocks per game in his senior season, dealing with a foot injury that caused him to miss the beginning of the conference season.

Big Ten announces Northwestern men’s basketball conference opponents

The final pieces of Northwestern men’s basketball’s 2016-2017 schedule are coming together, as on Monday the Big Ten announced the team’s conference home and road conference opponents.

The Wildcats will play both home and away games against Indiana, last season’s Big Ten regular-season champion who blew NU out in their lone matchup in Bloomington last year, as well as against in-state rival Illinois, Purdue, Nebraska and Rutgers.

After preparing a nonconference slate for next season that was panned for its difficulty, the Cats will need to look for quality wins in conference play if they want to stake a claim to a postseason berth. While projecting exactly how the Big Ten will look when the conference season rolls around is impossible, those games against the Hoosiers and Boilermakers, as well as a home date with Maryland and games at Michigan State and Wisconsin, look to be NU’s best chances to boost its resume.

As with pretty much any major-conference schedule, the Cats’ slate gives them ample opportunities to prove themselves against high-caliber opponents and face some difficult tests at home and on the road. Once the Big Ten releases the dates and times of each conference game, a better idea of the key games to circle on NU’s schedule will emerge.

Northwestern men’s basketball releases 2016-2017 nonconference schedule

Northwestern men’s basketball releases 2016-2017 nonconference schedule
(Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang)

After Northwestern’s men’s basketball team won 20 regular-season games for the first time in school history but finished the season out of the running for major end-of-year tournaments, most observers pointed to a weak nonconference schedule that left the Wildcats with few chances for signature victories and many wins over some of the worst teams in college basketball.

Coach Chris Collins will be hoping that next season’s nonconference slate, announced by the team Wednesday, will give NU a boost as it looks to return to the postseason.

There are no real marquee games among the newly-announced matchups on the schedule. The Cats open the season on Nov. 11 at home against Mississippi Valley State, and ends their nonconference schedule with a four-game home stretch in December against New Orleans, Chicago State, IUPUI, and Houston Baptist. IUPUI ranked No. 203 by KenPom at the end of last season, while the other four teams ranked below No. 270.

On top of these, NU will participate in the Legends Classic tournament in Brooklyn, with games on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 against two of Notre Dame, Texas, and Colorado. The Cats will host two other to-be-announced team in tie-in games to the Legends Classic on Nov. 14 and Nov. 25.

NU also is slated to travel to Butler on Nov. 16 as a part of the Gavitt Games, host Wake Forest on Nov. 28 as a part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and play Dayton at the United Center on Dec. 17 in the inaugural Chicago Legends event. The team will also host local rival DePaul on Dec. 3

The schedule will give the Cats chances to beat as many as four teams who played in last season’s NCAA Tournament interspersed with games against some of college basketball’s lesser lights. NU will have to hope that this nonconference slate is enough to set the stage for a run at the postseason.

Northwestern to host Wake Forest in ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Northwestern to host Wake Forest in ACC-Big Ten Challenge
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

The Wildcats are scheduled to face Wake Forest in the 2016 ACC-Big Ten Challenge, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported Monday.

The annual series pits teams from each conference against each other over the course of a weekend. Northwestern faced Virginia Tech in the 2015 incarnation and beat the Hokies 81-79 in overtime.

The matchup against Wake Forest adds to a developing non-conference schedule that will feature contests against Butler and Dayton, as well an opportunity to participate in the Legends Classic, a four-team early season tournament also featuring Colorado, Notre Dame and Texas.

Tino Malnati, grandson of Lou Malnati, joins Northwestern men’s basketball as walk-on

Tino Malnati, grandson of Lou Malnati, joins Northwestern men’s basketball as walk-on
(Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang)

The grandson of the founder of Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Tino Malnati, has joined the Northwestern men’s basketball team as a walk-on, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

Tino Malnati is a former point guard at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. He reportedly considered Division II and Division III schools before deciding to join the Wildcats. Malnati’s father, Rick, coached New Trier basketball from 1999-2008.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria opened its first location in 1971 in Lincolnwood, Illinois and now has over 40 locations.

Bryant McIntosh invited to Stephen Curry’s basketball camp

Northwestern sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh was invited to join NBA MVP Stephen Curry to help out at Curry’s SC30 Select basketball camp, according to a video he tweeted out Tuesday afternoon.

The camp is intended to help a select number of elite high school guards hone their skills. McIntosh previously assisted Curry with instruction last year.

In the video, Curry also congratulates McIntosh on a great season and says that the Wildcats guard — in tandem with coach Chris Collins — have NU on the “up-and-up and in line to do some great things next year.”

A look at the top of Chris Collins’ past non-conference schedules

A look at the top of Chris Collins’ past non-conference schedules
(Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang)

After setting a school record for regular-season wins last season but failing to be selected for the NIT, let alone the NCAA Tournament, Northwestern’s men’s basketball team had one thing to blame: its non-conference schedule.

By RPI, the Wildcats ranked 334th in non-conference strength of schedule. There are 351 teams in Division I.

NU’s problem was clear going into the season: the Cats lacked opportunities for signature victories (outside of a non-conference tournament matchup in Kansas City with eventual national runner-up North Carolina), leaving a 20-win NU sitting at home in March.

Non-conference scheduling is an ongoing process — last season’s finalized non-conference slate was officially announced on June 24 — but news of the higher-profile games on the docket for the Cats has been trickling out. And if those games are any indication, coach Chris Collins might finally have the resume-boosting opponents out of conference to push NU into the first postseason appearance of his tenure.

The Cats have been announced as a participant in the Legends Classic, a four-team non-conference tournament in Brooklyn that will also feature three NCAA Tournament teams from last season: Texas, Colorado and Notre Dame, who made the Elite Eight. NU will play two of the three schools as a part of the tournament, with exact matchups to be announced at a later date.

Additionally, the Cats are reportedly slated to travel to Butler as part of the Gavitt Games, a series pitting Big Ten and Big East opponents against each other, and will take on Dayton in the United Center on December 17, according to a report from CBSSports’ Jon Rothstein. Both teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament last season.

Although much is still up in the air, NU is in line to take on at least four NCAA Tournament teams from 2016. But how does this compare with past non-conference schedules under Collins, based on performance in the previous season?

2015-2016

Top four opponents, by KenPom rankings from prior season: North Carolina (No. 11), DePaul (No. 167), Columbia (No. 175), Virginia Tech (No. 184)

NCAA Tournament qualifiers from prior season: 1 (North Carolina)

The game against North Carolina was a big opportunity for NU to break out, but ended in a predictable defeat. Columbia was a trendy choice in the Ivy League before the season, and a road win at Virginia Tech looked better for the Cats as the Hokies snagged a spot in the NIT. But any schedule with DePaul as its second-best team from the prior season has limited upside.

2014-2015

Top four opponents, by KenPom rankings from prior season: Northern Iowa (No. 94), Butler (No. 104), Georgia Tech (No. 109), Western Michigan (No. 127)

NCAA Tournament qualifiers from prior season: 1 (Western Michigan)

Northern Iowa and Butler turned out to be two of the better teams in the country in 2014-2015, but weren’t as impressive the season before they appeared on NU’s schedule. The sole NCAA Tournament team on the non-conference docket going into the year was MAC champion Western Michigan. Overall, this year’s non-conference schedule ended up having several solid chances at signature wins, but it wasn’t as obvious before the season.

2013-2014

Top four opponents, by KenPom rankings from prior season: Missouri (No. 31), North Carolina State (No. 34), Stanford (No. 44), UCLA (No. 45)

NCAA Tournament qualifiers from prior season: 3 (Missouri, North Carolina State, UCLA)

Collins’ first year as coach featured what appeared to be a tremendously difficult non-conference schedule at the top, with the Cats taking on NC State and Stanford on the road and Missouri and UCLA at a neutral site. Unfortunately for NU, the team wasn’t up for the challenge; the Cats lost all four of these games by a combined 61 points.


From what we know now, the Cats’ 2016-2017 non-conference schedule is shaping up similarly to their schedule for 2013-2014, where NU played a host of quality teams from the previous season.

But Collins’ first squad serves as a reminder that scheduling big games is not the same as winning them, as the Cats went 14-19 that season. With four NCAA Tournament qualifiers scheduled and the potential for another solid non-conference opponent out of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, NU will certainly have the chances for a signature win that it lacked last year. But to return to the postseason, the Cats will need to win some of those games, a feat easier said than done.