Cats roll to first 2-0 start since 1996-97 season

The Northwestern men's basketball team looked impressive in rolling to easy 88-51 win over the Wildcats of New Hampshire Monday night. Northwestern displayed tough defense, effective dribble penetration, good ball handling, and overall aggressive play, taking their record to 2 - 0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

Player of the Game

Junior guard Jitim Young led the way for Northwestern, scoring a career-best 29 points.  Jitim was 11 of 14 from the floor, including 2 of 2 from 3-point territory.  He continually slashed his way through the lane and battled for points in the paint against taller New Hampshire players.  Jitim's tenacious play also resulted in 8 rebounds--5 offensive--and 2 steals.  Additionally, Jitim continued to demonstrate that his past free-throw shooting difficulties might behind him, hitting 5 of 6 (now 9 of 10 on the season) from the line.  After the game, Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody said that Jitim had been underwhelmed by his performance in Friday night's opener against Maryland-Eastern Shore and wanted to come out and prove himself against New HampshireAnd how!
What Shin Splints?
Senior center Aaron Jennings, whose practice time has been limited by painful shin splints, came out with an impressive outing for the second consecutive game.  Aaron led all scorers with 16 points Friday night, and led the defensive effort for Northwestern Monday night with 7 blocked shots in only 20 minutes of action.  His 7 blocked shots ranks him in a tie for second on the all-time Northwestern list for most blocked shots in a single game.  (Aaron appeared to have two additional clean blocked shots that were called fouls, much to the dismay of an animated Coach Carmody on the Northwestern bench.)  Aaron also added 5 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds.  Even with his limited mobility, Northwestern's starting center appears to be much more formidable than he was last season.
Coach calls him "Scooter"
Speedy freshman point-guard TJ Parker [NU Photo-right] has already earned the affectionate nickname "Scooter" from Coach Carmody.  After just two games, Coach Carmody is singing the praises of the starting point-guard for his quickness, mature play, and ability to create for other players on the floor.  In addition to scoring 11 points Monday night, TJ had 6 assists without committing a single turnover.  Any questions about his ability to fill the shoes of now graduated 3-year starting point-guard Collier Drayton are quickly fading.
Double figures for the duo from Plano
Senior Plano, Texas-natives Winston Blake and Jason Burke both started at forward and scored in double figures for Northwestern Monday night. Winston scored 11 points while snaring 6 rebounds and a steal.  Jason Burke, starting for the injured Vedran Vukusic, scored 13 points, dished out 6 assists, and made 2 steals.  Jason played perhaps his most assertive game to date as a Wildcat.
Easy there, Tiger
In just two exhibition games and two non-conference games, skinny freshman forward Jim Maley has made a case that he belongs on the court head-to-head with Northwestern's physical Division 1 foes.  Jimmy again displayed excellent hustle and confidence as the second man off the bench for the Wildcats.  He scored 3 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, drew a charge, and lofted a lovely inside assist to sophomore forward Davor Duvancic.  On the down side, Jimmy also fouled out in just 15 minutes of playing time.
Until next season, Vedran
Sophomore forward Vedran Vukusic was again dressed in street clothes for Monday night's game.  Before the game, Coach Carmody reiterated that Vedran's condition "doesn't look good" and that they assume he'll be out for the season.  The doctors still have yet to give their final word, but indications are that Vedran will once again undergo shoulder surgery "within the next month or so" and miss the rest of the season.  While his absence will definitely be felt on the court, Northwestern's head coach expressed his sentiments for Vedran, personally.  Vedran battled back from a re-occurring shoulder ailment last season and off-season surgery only to re-injure his shoulder in the final exhibition game two weeks ago.
There is another
Wildcat fans have yet to see freshman center Ivan Tolic [NU Photo-Left] in uniform.  Ivan has been held out of action with tendinitis in his knee, but is feeling better and thinks he is ready to contribute.  According to Coach Carmody, they are going to give Ivan another week to recover but anticipate that he'll be able to provide support to center Aaron Jennings sooner than later.
Next game
The Wildcats try to improve their record to 3 - 0 this Wednesday against the Jaguars of UIPUI at Welsh-Ryan arena.  Game time is set for 7 p.m.

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