Tag Archives

5 Articles

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.

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.

Morning Roundup: May 23, 2016

by Max Gelman 0 Comments
Morning Roundup: May 23, 2016
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

It’s our last week of publication but we have some excellent features lined up. Kicking off the week…

  • Max Schuman takes an in-depth look about the struggles men’s basketball coach Chris Collins has faced recruiting local talent.
  • Cole Paxton recaps the last baseball series of the season, which Northwestern won but set a record for futility.
  • Marty Johnson reviews Wildcat softball’s NCAA Regional bracket, consisting of three close contests.

And here’s a look at Monday’s back page:

523 back

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.