Changing Of The Guards

For the first time in four years, Northwestern does not have a point guard. With the departure of Michael ‘Juice' Thompson, NU head coach Bill Carmody is looking to find the Wildcats' next floor general.

The Wildcats have a couple question marks at the guard positions. They have a vacancy at the point guard position and it is still unclear who will be the starter at shooting guard. Freshmen David Sobolewski and Tre Demps will find themselves in a battle for playing time with sophomore Jershon Cobb and junior Alex Marcotullio.

On Sunday night, Sobolewski and Demps arrived to Northwestern's campus and officially began their collegiate careers. For now, they participate in voluntary team workouts, but when the team starts up practice in the fall, both of the freshmen guards will find themselves in the mix.

"Both are very good, very hard workers and very physical players," Bill Carmody said. "You have to see them play and how they respond to playing well and how they respond to not playing well. Both of them are really hard workers and have good character. I'm pretty confident they're going to play right away."

Both Sobolewski and Demps could find themselves in a key role early in their freshman year, but will have to fight for playing time with Alex Marcotullio and JerShon Cobb—both coming off a solid season.

As a freshman, JerShon Cobb started 25 games at shooting guard and averaged 7.4 points per game. After watching Cobb develop in his first season, he may take on a different role as a sophomore.

Cobb battled injury problems last in the season, and Alex Marcotullio came off the bench to take his place. Marcotullio averaged 23.2 minutes per game while seeing seven starts, while serving a key role off the bench when needed.

"I think the backcourt is actually in good shape," Carmody said. "Alex Marcotullio really had a nice year last year and got better. As a freshman in Big Ten season, he went down. This year in Big Ten season, he improved. JerShon Cobb, a freshman, got hurt this year and missed ten games or so—played once in a while. He's the kind of guy that can kind of take over a game."

With four guards battling for two positions, Bill Carmody has some decisions to make. Fortunately for the head coach, he has plenty of time to make that decision. Practice does not start up till the fall and Carmody can't be near the team's workouts in the summer.

NCAA rules force coaches to stay away from team workouts, so for now, Marcotullio, Cobb, and the Wildcats upperclassmen must help guide the incoming freshmen.

"A lot that happens over the summer depends on your upperclassmen—your juniors and seniors—to bring those freshman around and show them how to work and what to do and show them that work ethic so that the transition to college ball isn't so great," Carmody said.

With Juice Thompson out of the picture, Bill Carmody will have to find a new starter at point guard and admitted he's still far from that point. One thing that will likely be different is how minutes are divided between starter and backup.

"Mike Thompson made it so we only play a point guard," Carmody said. "I usually play two guards to handle it 60-40. Mike made it so we played it 85-15. I think we'll probably go back to both guys handling it evenly."

In the summer, Northwestern's four guards will work to make themselves better and make each other better. When the coaches join the team in the fall, the competition will pick up.

"I feel pretty good that the foursome will figure it out sometime," said Carmody.

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