21 Reasons We're Excited for NU Hoops

A new era brings new excitement for Northwestern basketball.

Coaches

1) Chris Collins

Everything about the most hyped hiring in Northwestern sports history.

2) X's and O's

Collins immediately brought Brian James to Northwestern as an assistant. James is not an aggressive recruiter, but instead draws from his NBA perspective and experience dialing up strategic shifts. We'll see what he can do.

3) Little guy, big men

New assistant–and ace recruiter–Armon Gates was tasked with coaching the team's big men. He's responsible for further developing Alex Olah — an immediate and pressing task for the Wildcats in the 2013-14 season.

4) The return home

In one of the nicest offseason stories, Collins hired former NU player Patrick Baldwin. After making several coaching stops, including one at Loyola, Baldwin is thrilled to make his return home.

5) What will he do?

Northwestern recently hired Chris Quinn as its director of player development. The former NBA player was only recently waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was added as another intriguing piece.

Changes

6) Not the Princeton

Long the defining characteristic of Northwestern basketball, Chris Collins will bring revamped offense to Evanston. He'll focus on higher-tempo basketball, but does he have the correct personnel to work with?

7) Tickets

With hype nearing an all-time high, Northwestern fans should be in their seats at Welsh-Ryan Arena — for once. If Collins draws students to basketball games, and I expect he will, then it should result in an outstanding flood of support.

8) Hand-check rules

Wouldn't it be so "Northwestern" to dominate the rulebook? Expect Collins to take advantage of tighter officiating, with his team strolling to the line. (Anything to end the chucking.)

9) New faces

We touched on the coaching staff in above entries, but really, it'll be exciting to watch an entirely new regime in action. It's Collins' first chance to lead a program, and we have yet to find out what that will look like.

Moments

10) Nov. 14 at Stanford

The battle of former Duke assistants: Dawkins and Collins. It's the proverbial "measuring stick game," and Northwestern certainly has a shot of earning a statement win in Palo Alto.

11) Las Vegas

NU will play in the Las Vegas Invitational against Missouri and UCLA, with Bruce Pearl even picking the Wildcats as tournament winners. That's unseemly, but an impressive performance in Vegas could vault the ‘Cats into their conference season.

12) Dec. 27 vs. DePaul

Well, I'm not buying much of the crosstown rivalry here, but this should be a must-win game for Northwestern — which needs to pound to rock against Oliver Purnell's overmatched team.

13) Jan. 5 at Michigan

Collins raves about the Big Ten; here's one terrifying matchup. Northwestern faces the defending national runner-up, and even after losing some players, Michigan boasts some incredible talent.

14) Jan. 21 vs. Purdue

Chris Emma vs. Nick Medline. The teams we cover are a combined 0-9 on the gridiron, so we're expecting some hooping excitement.

Players

15) Alex Olah's hook shot

Olah pitched his signature move last season, and then took it to the floor — finding mixed results. One year after shooting less than 42 percent, Olah returns to greater expectations.

16) James Montgomery III

Shortly after his incredible story went viral, we're left with this: Montgomery could play valuable minutes on this team, which lacks significant depth.

17) Taphorn v. Abrahamson

I'm only guessing here, but Nate Taphorn and Kale Abrahamson should be part of an exciting battle for minutes. Abrahamson, perhaps an underachiever from last year, looks motivated to reclaim his relevant role. The true freshman Taphorn is one of the team's most hyped players.

18) Calming down Demps

"He shoots way too often" would be an accurate and fitting way to describe Demps' redshirt freshman season. Often out of sync with teammates, he struggled in the Princeton offense (and in general). With the right coaching, we're aware of his impressive potential as a scorer.

19) The other return

Welcome back, Drew Crawford. The senior has another chance to end his storied career on a fitting note. After improving in each of his first three seasons, we can only wonder what's next.

Purple Wildcats!

20) The staff

We're thrilled to have Michael Hlebasko join our basketball coverage. Old faces including Steven Goldstein, Brian De Los Santos, Sylvan Lane and Jordan Bernfield will make contributions to the basketball portion of our site.

21) The best Northwestern hoops coverage

We're committed to bringing readers and subscribers the No. 1 Northwestern basketball coverage. This comes on the heels of an outstandingly successful offseason of analysis and recruiting. We're as excited as you are for the debut of this new era, and hope that our coverage reflects that — day in and day out.

-- Nick Medline


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