Connect with us

Widcats Basketball

Northwestern Wildcats feeling the need to panic, don’t

Published

on

Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern Wildcats, indiana Hoosiers

The Northwestern Wildcats suffered their first bad loss of the season against the Illinois Fighting Illini. It might be easy to begin panicking. Don’t.

Northwestern’s desperation was increased as the clock ticked down. The Wildcats trailed by four points and Bryant McIntosh was probing through the paint. Waiting for the defense to suck in and track him. That is when he fired a pass to the perimeter to Gavin Skelly for a wide-open three.

Clank.

Dererk Pardon gathered the rebound and fired it back to McIntosh for another open 3-pointer.

Clank. Again.

That was how Northwestern’s night went against Illinois. Down four points and needing some momentum, the Wildcats got the shots they needed. they simply would not fall.

For the first time in this “dream” season, Northwestern fell 68-61 to Illinois and suffered what might be called their first “bad” loss of the season. It was the Wildcats’ first “bad” loss this season. And with the schedule getting tougher (Wisconsin and Maryland are next) and Scottie Lindsey still out, Northwestern is facing its first bit of adversity this season.

For a program with the history it is trying to defy and the Big Ten packed together so tightly as it is, there is a little bit of nervousness about THE SEASON.

The simple answer to those fears are, in the words of Aaron Rodgers, to R-E-L-A-X.

The Wildcats still control their own destiny. The loss to Illinois is bad, but not crippling. The Wildcats could use another win over a marquee Big Ten program to further solidify their tournament resume. But so long as they avoid any more bad losses and pick up a win against another of the Big Ten’s growing middle, the Wildcats control their own destiny.

And that is the important part to remember in all of this. The Wildcats are still on track. They just have to take care of their own business.

The path to the NCAA Tournament is still laid out. And the Wildcats have proven they can beat anyone — a buzzer-beating loss to KenPom No. 23 Butler and wins over No. 33 Wake Forest and No. 34 Dayton.

But they do need their star players playing well and healthy. They survived the injury to Dererk Pardon in December, certainly missing him in the loss at Michigan State. But the injury to Scottie Lindsey has put stress on their offense. Especially with Bryant McIntosh struggling to shoot.

McIntosh hit 8 of his 20 shots and got off to a rough start in the first half. His shooting has generally decreased this year — down to 42.3 percent effective field goal percentage. His drop in production is a big reason Northwestern has not been able to compete with those big three teams ahead of them in the standings.

The Wildcats get their shot at Wisconsin and Maryland next. Coming out of those two games with losses will leave Northwestern on shakier, but expected ground.

Embed from Getty Images

It is the games against Illinois, Indiana and Michigan in late February to close the season that will determine Northwestern’s fate. Two of those games are rematches on the road. The Wildcats may need two of those three to clinch a tournament berth before the Big Ten Tournament. Certainly they cannot lose all three.

That is further down the road. For now, the Wildcats need to focus on themselves. They cannot lose confidence and believe their work to get open looks will get rewarded down the line. Northwestern has shown it is good enough to win these games. And if the Wildcats can steal one of the next two, even better.

The important point to remember for suddenly panicked Wildcats fans is that the Cats control their own destiny.  They are not scoreboard watching. They put themselves in the position to go out and win their games — specifically the rest of the game they are supposed oto — and make the Tournament.

That is the right Northwestern earned earlier in the season.

This is not to say the Wildcats are in. No team can probably say that at this point. Or at least very few.

Northwestern has to win games. To do that, they will need to make shots (duh) and get more consistency from Bryant McIntosh and get Scottie Lindsey back healthy. The Wildcats do no thave the depth clearly to withstand a loss of one of their key perimeter players.

Tuesday’s loss to Illinois makes things a little tough. There is a bit more urgency to maintain the privilege of controlling their own destiny.

But the Wildcats are not in panic mode. Not yet, at least. They need a win to regain some confidence. They need health to regain some confidence. And once they get that, they should be back on track for their first ever NCAA tournament bid.

Philip Rossman-Reich is a Northwestern alumnus and former contributor Lake The Posts. He also writes for Orlando Magic Daily and The Step Back.

Continue Reading
Comments

Widcats Basketball

WATCH: Northwestern unveils inside look at Welsh-Ryan Arena

Published

on

After a year spent at the strange confines of Allstate Arena out in Rosemont, the Northwestern Wildcats basketball teams will return home to Welsh-Ryan Arena for the 2018-19 season. 

On Friday, the Wildcats released a video look at what the new-look arena actually looks like ahead of the opener. 

Take a look at this state-of-the-art arena built around the old school appearance on the outside. 

Continue Reading

Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats caught in a bind with Jordan Lathon’s surprise release

Northwestern University has rescinded their offer of admission to star guard Jordan Lathon. That leaves Northwestern in a deep bind at point guard.

Published

on

Bryant McIntosh, Chris Collins, Northwestern Wildcats

The Northwestern Wildcats have seen a sudden rash of transfers that have begun to gut the roster some. Especially at the important point guard position.

One more loss might be the biggest and most mysterious of them all.

Friday, Inside NU reports Northwestern had rescinded its offer of admission and the national letter of intent to Jordan Lathon. Lathon responded on Twitter, thanking coach Chris Collins and the Northwestern community for their support. It is not clear at this point why Lathon was unable to enroll at Northwestern.

https://twitter.com/j2lathon/status/1000145538745028608

Whatever the issues are — whether it was Lathon not meeting some requirement or Lathon deciding to go to a different school — everyone has to hope Lathon find the place and the situation that fits best for him — both on and off the court.

There will be an undoubted effect on the court for the Wildcats in losing this prized recruit.

Lathon was a four-star prospect from Grandview, Missouri. He was undoubtedly one of the best recruits — at least from the recruiting services — ever to come to Northwestern. The kind of player that only Chris Collins seemed capable of getting for this program. And, yes, a direct beneficiary of the Wildcats’ first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

With Bryant McIntosh graduating and Isiah Brown transferring, Northwestern was thin at point guard. There seemed to be a very realistic chance Lathon would start this year. His departure leaves the Wildcats with just Jordan Ash and Anthony Gaines to play point guard. Both struggled to stay in the rotation last year.

That puts the Wildcats in a major bind on the court. The team is going to need someone to step up. And then eventually to find a long-term answer at the position — possibly in the upcoming recruiting class now that Lathon is gone.

It is hard to say a whole lot about Lathon’s situation. The reason he will not be attending Northwestern is unclear. All we know is Northwestern denied his admission for whatever reason.

And now Chris Collins will have to scramble to find a replacement or make due with what he has and hope someone steps up.

Continue Reading

Northwestern

Recruiting loss leaves Northwestern in a point guard bind

The Northwestern Wildcats struggled with their point guard depth last year, relying heavily on Bryant McIntosh. Now he is gone and a recruiting loss leaves a lot of questions at this critical spot.

Published

on

Northwestern Wildcats, Jordan Ash

The Northwestern Wildcats’ disappointing basketball season last year seemed like a blip on the road to consistent respectability. This was still a program and a team on the rise with a strong head coach, a renovated building and the budding confidence to assert itself.

Last year’s team — largely a run back of the previous year’s breakthrough NCAA Tournament team — never quite got itself off the ground. Perhaps everyone expected success to roll over easy. Maybe the team really missed the intangible tough qualities from graduating senior Sanjay Lumpkin. Maybe injuries were just too much to overcome.

It was not a good year. But optimism remains for 2019.

The Wildcats know they will have their work cut out for them in the debut of the new Welsh-Ryan Arena. They have veteran players like Vic Law and Dererk Pardon to anchor the team. But it has also been a summer of massive change for the program.

The team will be moving into the renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena at some point. But more importantly, the loss of seniors Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey leave a gaping hole for the program. Especially considering the other attrition from the roster — Rapolas Ivanauskas and Isiah Brown’s transfer.

If there was another contributing factor that no one spoke of that led to Northwestern’s difficult season, it was the poor development of young players, especially at guard.

Brown struggled to step into the role as the backup point guard, averaging 3.9 points per game and playing just 10.8 minutes per game. Freshman Anthony Gaines did not fare much better, averaging 4.0 points per game in 18.6 minutes per game.

McIntosh, even through injuries and his own shooting struggles, had to carry a heavy creation load for the team last year. He played 31.3 minutes per game for the season. And Lindsey and Law had to carry a heavy minutes burden too. Northwestern’s poor depth put a lot of strain on the team and it simply was not able to hold up.

That does not bode well with two of those heavy minute players gone. Their replacements are not particularly clear — although with a hopefully healthy Law, the team seems loaded on wings.

That is what made the pursuit of grad transfer Matt Mooney seemingly more important.

The South Dakota guard averaged 18.7 points per game and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 35.2 percent from beyond the arc. He is not going to completely change everyone’s fortunes, but he is clearly a capable scorer. And his recruitment in the grad transfer market was heated.

Northwestern already had a win in the grad transfer market with Ryan Taylor. But the team would not win this one. That will leave the Wildcats incredibly thin and uncertain at point guard.

That puts Northwestern in a tough spot at point guard.

Senior Jordan Ash, sophomore Anthony Gaines and incoming freshman Jordan Lathon are the only ball handlers on the roster now. Ash and Gaines have struggled in their time at Northwestern. Ash played only 11.3 minutes per game last year and has not taken that step forward.

Lathon is an intriguing prospect. He is a four-star prospect according to 247Sports and someone who could make an immediate impact. Freshmen can be fickle and unreliable, of course, but the Wildcats may not have any other options.

This is the hole the Wildcats will have to figure out heading into the season in November.

There is still a lot of time and Lathon and the other freshman have not arrived on campus. But Collins, despite winning the recruiting rankings relative to Northwestern, has not been as solid a player development coach as thought.

Ivanauskas was a celebrated recruit when he arrived in Evanston. Injuries kept him from making an impact in his first two years, but he is now gone from the program.

Law, the most celebrate recruit to arrive in Evanston, has had a solid career. He generated some NBA buzz, but it has been largely uneven too.

Collins may not have missed often enough to deter Northwestern’s seeming march forward. But there have been more than a few misses that have hurt the team’s depth.

A strong recruiting class with Pete Nance and Miller Kopp will add further depths on the wing. The Wildcats reaped the rewards from their NCAA Tournament appearance.

This should be a team in the hunt for the NCAA Tournament again in 2019. But it will only go as far as its point guard development can take it. If Lathon can make an immediate impact then Northwestern could again break through.

If he cannot, the losses in recruiting will stand out that much more.

Continue Reading

Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats basketball seeks some punch in a grad transfer

The Northwestern Wildcats went to the transfer market to bolster their offense as the program tries to replace some key players and get back into the NCAA Tournament.

Published

on

Chris Collins, Northwestern Wildcats

The Northwestern Wildcats basketball season did not end how anyone would want it. The careers for Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey did not end how anyone wanted them to. This is not the how the team was supposed to follow up its breakthrough NCAA Tournament season.

After that season went away, attention quickly turned to how the Wildcats would make the new Welsh-Ryan Arena feel like home. Northwestern was losing a lot — McIntosh was essentially the team’s heart and soul. And there was an unusual amount of attrition with Rapolas Ivanauskas and Isaiah Brown.

The Wildcats return Victor Law and Dererk Pardon as the anchors for their team. They will need to see more from Anthony Gaines and likely from incoming freshman Jordan Lathon. The Wildcats have some serious holes as they try to bounce back from last year.

Chris Collins dug into the transfer market and hoped to find someone who can help the Wildcats take that next step.

Former Evansville wing Ryan Taylor will transfer to Northwestern as a graduate transfer. Taylor averaged 21.2 points per game and shot 42.1 percent from beyond the arc for Evansville last year. He scored 47 total points in two games against Loyola (Chicago) last year, but there is not a ton of high-level competition on his immediate resume.

Either way, adding the 6-foot-6 forward will help Northwestern replace some of the production lost from Scottie Lindsey. And seeing him pick Northwestern over some other big schools makes this a big get.

As Bryce Bennett of BT Powerhouse notes, this commitment is a big deal for Northwestern. Taylor adds some much-needed shooting something Lindsey struggled with last year.

The team will return Law and Pardon as the anchors from that tournament team. Collins has helped add some talented wing players. But his freshman have not been ready to contribute immediately. Adding in role players like Aaron Falzon and sitting transfer A.J. Turner could make the Wildcats a dangerous team again.

But things will have to come together for them again. In a way they did not last year despite all the pieces being in place. If Northwestern learned anything last year, it is that nothing is guaranteed. Getting back to the tournament will take a lot of work.

And talent alone will not get there. Nor will the expectation of getting there.

Northwestern still has some major holes to fill. With McIntosh gone, the point guard position still feels like an open competition heading into the summer. Northwestern will have experienced wings to help spread the floor. And the team will need Law more than ever to play consistently — he seemed to tire out as the season went on last year.

It is looking like Northwestern will have a lot of the pieces again to make a run. Assuming the team continues to grow and comes together — especially on defense.

Adding a transfer like Taylor will only add to that puzzle. It makes for a potentially exciting a potent offense for the Wildcats this coming season.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

talking10 Podcast

Most Popular

Copyright © 2018 talking10.com. This site is not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by the Big Ten Conference. It is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only and is no way associated with the NCAA, the Big Ten or any member institutions.