This season has been a disappointment due to the expectations of finally reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. However, injuries plagued the Wildcats and we watched a young team trying to find their identity during the Big Ten season.
Reggie Hearn became an all-Big Ten performer as a senior. When I saw him as a freshmen, I mentioned to Coach Carmody he had potential to be a solid player in the program. Alex Marcotullio was limited earlier in the season recovering from a back injury. His leadership throughout the season was noticeable, and the energy he played with always sparked the Wildcats. Marcotullio is accustomed to winning games. Every time he stepped on the court, he played to win.
Jared Swopshire was the glue to Northwestern. He did everything, and at 6'8 I referred to him as the Lamar Odom of the Big Ten. Losing Drew was tough, but when Swopshire got injured it really put a huge dent in the program.
Alex Olah has gotten better since the first exhibition game against University of Chicago. I called the game on WGN Radio against Michigan State, and the way he competed with Derrick Nix was extremely impressive.
Olah has to work hard this summer, maybe even go to a big man camp. If I'm Olah, I'm asking the coaching staff to get me Evan Eschmeyer tapes from his senior year. If Olah can get to the point where he aggressively demands the basketball and can produce at 7'1, he will be a rich man when he leaves college.
Kale Abrahamson is a player that took advantage of opportunity when it presented itself. Everyone knew he could shoot and score points, but the freshmen quickly learned that to play in the Big Ten, defense is just as important. Abrahamson, late in the Big Ten season, got this confidence and swagger which made you feel as a spectator and former player he needed to be on the court. Abrahamson played liked he belonged in the Big Ten against Michigan State. As he gets stronger, he will be a tough opponent on both ends of the floor.
Kale also needs to work on his ball handling. He has John Shurna qualities, but if his ball handling can improve being 6'8, I see Kale as another Mike Miller (Miami Heat) or Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz).
Tre Demps finally figured it out. A scoring machine in high school, Demps just needed time to understand how college basketball is played. Once he became confident in where he can score within Coach Carmody's system, Demps flourished midway through the Big Ten season. Late in the game or shot clock, you want Demps to have the ball because he can make a play.
Dave Sobolewski had a tough year. Sobo is a point guard who looks to get his team involved which opens up his offense. This season Dave had to score first and facilitate second. Not having Drew, Jershon Cobb, and then losing Swopshire affected his rhythm.
As a point guard, your play is off trust. When players turn the ball over after passing it to them, or not being able to make shots, it's tough on any point guard. Sobo always played with high energy, competitiveness and leadership. He never made excuses, but figured out ways to get results.
Sobolewski is a player I wish I had the opportunity to play with in college any year. He needs to get better at reading the game, shooting, ball-handling, and I think he can be the next Scott Skiles.
JerShon Cobb and Drew Crawford were missed this year, and hopefully next season injuries won't occur. As for JerShon, I expect him to have a break out season as Venric Mark did for Northwestern football. We all come from different backgrounds and environments. Sometimes a student-athlete needs to feel like he or she has support, love, and a family environment around them. This season Cobb's teammates and the Northwestern community showed JerShon that he matters. I'm sure he will make us proud next year.