There once was a time when the number of basketball transfer outs exceeded the annual recruiting class at Northwestern. No more.So what's new this year.
Three former prospects who chose other schools have now joined the Wildcats to play Bill Carmody's NU Offense.
For a change there won't be a depth problem, as the Cats have all of their 12 scholarship positions filled, and have 3 walkons. And maybe more important, the Cats still have the same assistants who came to NU with Bill Carmody.
Assistants Paul Lee, Craig Robinson and Mitch Henderson also won't have to lace 'em up so the team can practice, with 4 starters and 10 Lettermen returning, the cats can scrimmage and even make substitutions.
First off, no Jitim Young. He was Bill Carmody on the court, playing guard at first and finally moving to the "really small" forward position. He led the Cats in rebounds more than once and he will be missed.Now the returning players:
New with experience is a Soph combo Guard/Forward - Tim Doyle [6-4 220] a transfer from St. Johns, Junior center from Joliett by way of Duke - Mike Thompson [6-10 245], and Junior Forward Bernard Cote [6-9 230], from Kentucky. All three were limited by the schemes run by other schools, but reports trickle out about how they've embraced the NU System.
Just plain new are the 3 recruits - Guard Brandon Lee [6-1 175], Guard/Forward Gary Lee [6-6 190] and Guard/Forward Sterling Williams [6-5 185]. All three came from top high school programs and even better, all three really don't have to play this year!
Up Front:Who Starts:
Vedran Vukusic [6-8 230] - Honorable Mention All Big 10. We all remember his first 7 shots as a Wildcat - 7 Treys - He was hurt his first 2 seasons so he plays as a Junior - he's the big guy up front. Averaged 14.3 ppg/4 rpg.
Davor Duvancic [6-8 220] - Played a lot of Center for the Cats, but now is listed as a Forward. NU could see a Croation front court at times this year. He toured with the Big 10 traveling team this summer. Averaged 6.3ppg/2.8 rpg
In the Middle:
Vince Scott - the youngest of the returning players. Came to NU because Carmody promised he'd play, and he started 4 games as a Frosh. Should be much improved over last year. Watch him continue to develop a 3 point shot. 1.6 ppg/1.1 rpg
Ivan Tolic [6-9 255] - A big man in the center. Plays facing the basket, has been hobbled by knee problems. Still started 13 games and had more surgery after the season.This should be the year he steps up.
T.J. Parker [6-2 165] - Plays the Point Guard for the Cats had 115 assists last year. Good ball handler. Will have to step up his shoting and as the floor leader with Young's departure. One of the "French Connection." His brother Tony Parker is the PG for the NBA Spurs. Scored 8.8 ppg/2.8 rpg.
Mohamed Hachad [6-4 185] - plays the traditional shooting guard slot, but is really a defensive whiz. Could be a little more consistent in his play but has started 42 consecutive games. Was recruited because the coaches saw him play while recruiting Bernard Cote. Averages 8.3 ppg/3.7 rpg
Evan Seacat [6-3 165] - NU's Mad Bomber - he's 2nd on the team in 3 pointers  coming off the bench. Missed a bunch of games at the end of last season after getting crashed against Penn State. Still averaged 5.7 ppg and 1.4 boards.
Michael Jenkins [5-9 165] Smallest guy on the team, but Carmody has a lot of confidence in his abilities - appeared in 20 games. He's a Walk-on, but is one of two Seniors on the team.
Josh Grier [6-1 190] - Another Walk-on who helps fill out the team. Appeared in 8 games. Is a defensive specialist on the scout team, and in games.
Joe Kennedy [5-10 190] - His father is a former coach at DePaul. He's Walk-on who got into 8 games last year. He's one of the leaders of the scout team.
You have to figure that the four starters from last year, Vedran Vukusic, T.J. Parker, Mohamed Hachad and Davor Duvancic will start the season. I'd guess that Vince Scott will be in the middle when the season begins and will probably be beaten out by Mike Tompson once he's eligible in December.and the Rest
Parker of course will be the point guard, but watch for Hachad bringing the ball up at times.
The 4 returning starters averaged just under 38 points per game [37.7] and will have to replace Young's 17+ points per game. A lot of that production might come from the post position. Mike Thompson could be the best center the Cats have had since Evan Eschmeyer. We'll see.
T.J. Parker also needs to step up his shooting, his 3 point shot went cold last year - you hope that he finds the range again.
A big question is which Davor Duvancic shows up this year. Duvancic is hot and cold - some games he's phenominal, others, you can't find him on the court. This is his Senior year, his last chance to really demonstrate how well he can play. If he can match Vukusic in scoring, the Cats will have come a long way towards replacing Jitim's scoring.
Evan Seacat also needs a little more consistency in his shot, but he's now a Junior - has more experience and should have a better touch. Most fans don't appreciate Seacat's contribution, but when he was out injured last year, the Cats' struggled. I'd also expect to see Seacat run a little point guard as he did last year.The Big Challenge
Ivan Tolic needs to be healthy. You have to give him credit, anyone with 3 years of tendonitis in his knees deserves to finally have a good year. Tolic is a wide body under the basket on defense and probably needs to work on a 3 pointer to really play in Carmody's system.
The ninth player in the expected rotation, Tim Doyle, is an excellent passer and ball handler in the words of some of his former coaches. He was a recruit that Bill Carmody wanted when he first came out of St. Dominic HS. Some of the people we talked with when he transfered suggested that he could play Jitim's small forward position and get a few boards. If he does step it up, the Cats will have a very decent rotation.
Will be getting everyone enough minutes once Thompson is eligible, then it will be replacing Jitim's 17 points a game. I've heard that Thompson provides a lot of fire in practice, and Brandon Lee is also reported to be a guard in the Jitim mold.In the Final Analysis...
You read it here....
In any case, this should be a great year for the Wildcats.
- This should be the year that the Wildcats finally crack the NCAAs. Bill Carmody likes an 8 man rotation, but this year he has 9 decent scholarship players to run in and out. Add the 3 walk-ons in blowouts, and we'll have a long list of players with minutes come March.
- This could also be the year that Carmody pulls his 53-64 NU record over .500. It won't be easy, but it is possible.
- You will also expect NU to continue its domination of opponents at home - the term "This is Our House" really applies to Welsh-Ryan with a 30-13 home record.
- And this could be the first year that some of our incoming frosh red shirt.
Practice starts Saturday - and is closed to the public. Coach Carmody expects to open Saturday practices laster in the month.
and Here's a Link to the official NU Sports 2004-05 Basketball Prospectus]
Beat 'em All!
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