Young: Wildcats coming together

What was supposed to be a challenging week for Northwestern would show some positive signs for a young team. The Wildcats played with life, which can be credited to the locker-room chemistry. Former Wildcat standout Jitim Young gives a breakdown of where the team stands.

I could not have been more proud of the way Northwestern competed and fought this past week. In both games—a road victory over rival Illinois and loss to No. 2 Indiana—the Wildcats played to win. The team played with energy, and the effort shown is why I believe this team is special and hold them to high standards.

The Wildcats shot 53.3 percent from three-point range and played with a tenacious effort on the defensive end. NU held Illinois to 38.8 percent from the field and 15 percent from beyond the arc. Reggie Hearn led the team in scoring with 20 points; Dave Sobolewski added 10 points and six assist. Bench production is always important in winning on the road in the Big Ten, and Northwestern outscored Illinois bench production by a 22-6 margin, with Alex Marcotullio and Tre Dempscarrying the load.

Jared Swopshire, who has been playing some great basketball of late, is starting to find himself more comfortable in Coach Carmody's system. Swopshire had another effective night against Illinois with 12 points and six rebounds, then had his best Northwestern performance yet against Indiana.

Sunday's game with Indiana has been sold out for over three months, a highly anticipated contest. Indiana's game plan was simple: pound it inside. With the Wildcats missing shots early on, Indiana led by as much as 17 points at one point in the first half. Despite shooting poorly the Wildcats didn't give up, they kept on competing, and once they switched to the 1-3-1 zone, it gave the Hoosiers problems.

Northwestern cut the lead to five points in the second half. However, it was just too much Cody Zeller, whom is a future NBA lottery pick. Zeller finished the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds as Indiana escaped with a victory.

On Monday, we had the chance to pause and celebrate the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose dream of equality changed the world.

Dr. King's accomplishments are especially evident with Northwestern, seeing a brotherhood within the program. There are young men different races, cultures, and backgrounds all competing and playing to win. Dr. King would be proud of that.

I'm thankful for the sacrifices Dr. Martin Luther King made, because I was able to graduate from Northwestern and follow my dreams due to his courage.

Jitim Young was a standout for Northwestern from 2000-2004. A Chicago native, he now serves as color commentator for NU basketball on WGN Radio 720.

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