Northwestern Open Scrimmage Notes

Evaluating the early returns on every Northwestern player from Saturday's open scrimmage.

The Starters?

Dave Sobolewski— As PW's Sylvan Lane pointed out, Sobolewski functions more as the pass-first point guard now. He rarely looked for scoring opportunities, opting instead to settle into the offense. I've been critical of Sobolewski–and for good reason–but some adjusted style might serve to benefit his game.

Sanjay Lumpkin After playing limited minutes early in the season, Lumpkin suffered a wrist injury and kept his redshirt. We've heard much praise of Lumpkin, but I'm not sure. More of the two-guard look on an undersized team, he'll need to round out his game and make an immediate impact. Today, there wasn't much of note.

Jershon Cobb Are we missing something? Throughout the 2012 season, fans moaned about the loss of Cobb—an above-average defender and below-average scorer. Despite flashes of strong play near the end of his sophomore season, he never put together the type of play we expected. He's back after last year's suspension, and still appears out of sorts.

Drew Crawford He's the standout. Crawford will take the reins of this new-look offense and jack up shots. Sobolewski helped to give him open looks on the perimeter, and the freed-up offense should undoubtedly benefit his game. With some improved rebounding and big-game consistency, Crawford might just have one of the best individual seasons in school history.

Alex Olah After practice, Collins mentioned Olah as someone he was impressed by. The center showed expanded versatility with an improved trademark hook shot. He's not facing any stiff competition–with Nikola Cerina the likely number two center. Still, we're optimistic about his chances of major improvement.

(Collins mentioned after practice that he was comfortable with the four-around-one set, which makes the above group a likely starting lineup.)

The Bench?

Tre Demps Demps was called upon to play some point guard in the first scrimmage. He seemed fairly comfortable leading an offense that isn't the Princeton. He's never been the most efficient offensive player, but perhaps that could change with the right coaching style. With three years of eligibility remaining, I'm interested in tracking his progress.

Kale Abrahamson The sophomore fought for recognition with an impressive outing on Saturday. He distributed the ball with ease, looked increasingly comfortable in the new offense and found his shot. Plus, he's in better shape. Abrahamson might be the high-impact guard off the bench—exactly what he was recruited to do. If he can create on offense, expect even better.

Nate Taphorn The shots weren't falling, but Taphorn flashed some of the potential that excites this coaching staff. He dunked on one of the opening possessions and was physical on defense—for the most part. Abrahamson-Taphorn practice matchups appear very intriguing; we'll see who maintains the consistency leading up to the season.

James Montgomery III— I honestly believe the walk-on can establish some role in this offense. With an up-tempo style, the staff will rely on reinforcements at every position. A potential role-playing two, he settled into the offense nicely today. Collins can try to maximize every weapon he has, no matter how small.

Chier Ajou— He shouldn't play much. Completely out of sync–aside from one block–Ajou was out of sorts on offense and failed to gain solid post position at any point. Cerina looks like a four-five hybrid, with Ajou unlikely to see much action and Aaron Liberman all but guaranteed to stay to on the bench. will have more coverage of Northwestern basketball later this week… When it's not GameDay.

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