There's a lot to feel good about.
The Bill Carmody era at NU has led to some pretty good recruiting classes, and some pretty good games - especially at home.
Playing the latest version of the now fabled Princeton offense, and featuring a usually effective matchup zone defense, the Cats have become respectable at the worse and maybe a candidate for post season play again.
The Cats did lose maybe their most important player last year to graduation as Guard Jitim Young - the on and off court leader of the team - took his game to the next level in Greece, but the man who is still the Big Gun in junior forward Vedran Vukusic [shown playing some defense against Illinois].
Vedran is recognized by most observers as the Cats MVP so far this year, even with a slow start. He's the scoring leader right now, and is up there with assists to boot.
One player who has changed the game at Northwestern is also a target of many of Vukusic's inside passes. Junior Center Mike Thompson [left] has given the Cats an inside presence at both ends of the floor, and an underneath scoring threat, something the Cats haven't had since Evan Eschmeyer graduated. Thompson does need to add a few more shots to his arsenal - maybe a hook and a turnaround jumper - and continue to improve on freethrows.
Leading the NU offense is junior guard T.J. Parker - he's been slowed by a bout with the flu, but seems to have shaken off the illness to give the Cats a man who can drive the lane. Helping T.J. at point is a surprise - walkon senior guard Michael Jenkins, who according to the coach, might actually run the complex offense better than Parker.
The other forwards, although they're both playing hybrid positions, are senior forward/center Davor Duvancic and soph forward/guard Tim Doyle. Duvancic can be counted on to provide a steadying influence on the offense when he's in. Doyle is an outstanding passer and very aggressive on defense. Both have flirted with starting, and both play well off the bench.
At the other guard is junior Mohamed Hachad. [Pictured above with Thompson] He's an aggressive jumper, and ball stealer - he's the pickpocket on the team right now - and seems to be playing through some injuries. He's having a little trouble making shots right now, if he gets going, the Cats will really start to score.
There are a few other guards around - junior Evan Seacat and frosh Brandon Lee seem to have dropped out of the rotation. Seacat has had trouble getting his 3 point shot to drop and Lee hasn't recovered from a Mike Thompson elbow in practice. Seacat was NU's "mad bomber" last year, and Lee showed a lot of promise early in the season. You'd like to see both step up and really start to play.
Another man somewhat lost in the rotation is Soph center Vince Scott, although he's come in to back up Thompson in some games and has burned minutes. Scott still commits too many fouls [like the one pictured right] - probably trying to make too much happen, but you have to see a little improvement over last year and he'll be around after Thompson graduates.
According to the coach, the problems with the Cats revolve around turnovers and some defensive mistakes. The Cats are turning the ball over too much - last year they averaged under 9 a game. This year that number is over 15.
On defense, the Cats are failing to keep their man in front.
The Coach says that both issues were to be the topic of practice this week as the Cats prepared for Penn State.
|The Big Gun||Vedran Vukusic
|Deadeye Dick||Mike Thompson
|The Bomber||Vedran Vukusic
||92 3 pt attempts
|Off the Boards||Mike Thompson
||5.3 rebounds per game
|Charity Stripe||Vedran Vukusic
||81.4% average [48-59]
|Super Sub||Michael Jenkins
||17.9 mins 3.6 ppg
|Helping Hands||Vedran Vukusic &
|2.8 assists per game
Challenges for the Wildcats:
- Take Care of the Basketball
- Start making free throws
- Cut down on the uncontested shots on defense
- Stay in front of your man.
Radio: WGN [and XM Satellite Radio 187] with Dave [Mr. Wildcat] Eanet
Gametracker: NU Sports
Beat 'em All!
|Talk about it on the Purple Boards