Random Thoughts: Senior Leadership

NU's two Senior starters put on a scoring show Wednesday, and even though a frosh made the shot to set up the win, they led by example both early and late in a win on the road against a quickly improving Big 10 team. Coach Roy notes that Seniors are supposed to be out front on most Big 10 teams and maybe, just maybe this is the turnaround Wildcat fans have been hoping for....

This is the way its supposed to work, right?
Northwestern's Basketball team got a season high from two key seniors Wednesday night.

Mohamed Hachad, who usually catches fire this time of year, pumped in a bunch of 3 pointers in the first half to help keep the Wildcats in the game with Purdue. To Mo's credit, he's doing this after getting an emergency appendectomy in December and then missing 3 games.

Vedran Vukusic, who had a miserable time against Illinois, rebounded both figuratively, and literally against the Boilermakers - 29 points, 8 in overtime, on 2 of 19 shooting. OK, he only had one rebound, but that's not my point.

One thing that sets Big 10 Basketball off away from other leagues in my mind is the performance of Seniors in league games. At other places, even across the alley, seniors take their final season in college sports very seriously, and play "lights out" in game after game. [Just read Coach Randy Walker's comments or the box scores of Illinois games].

One of the reasons for the high hopes of many fans this year is that finally, the Cats had a bunch of seniors playing roundball again - maybe enough to field a completely Senior starting lineup.

But the loss of two of them, Parker and Thompson, set our hopes back. Our old "mad bomber" Evan Seacat seemed to disappear, spending half the season rehabbing from off season surgery. Then Michael Jenkins, who started the year at point, seemed to lose his touch.

Suddenly the entire Senior leadership role seemed to all fall on Vukusic, a guy who leads by example.

The whole thing seemed to have collapsed last Saturday on the floor of Welsh-Ryan and even 3 students wore bags on their heads. We read veiled commentaries, calling for coaching changes, maybe a new style of play - even our normally patient fans were suddenly looking southeast and west for clues to a new NU basketball identity.

Then the two starting Seniors pull a 49 point night against a quickly improving Purdue team. Is this the "big turnaround," the change in the Cats that finally spells Big 10 and NCAA glory?

Here's the reality check: NU has 4 tough road games coming in February. Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, and Penn State who probably have those games down as wins over a "struggling" NU. Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin all head in to Welsh Ryan, and you can be sure they've also got W's penciled on their schedules.

When NU's defense is playing well, our two senior's 49 points are almost enough to beat any of the teams listed above. It just takes a little help from the rest of the team to place our Cats in a position to be the cinderella team of the Big 10 in 2006.

We're just about half way through the Big 10. Isn't this normally where all the Seniors step up and take charge for the post season run?
-- da Coach

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