After watching Northwestern attempt to play football the last few weeks I think all NU fans could use some positive thoughts. Now, to be honest I’m probably less optimistic about the upcoming men’s basketball season at Northwestern than I was the past two years, but even so I still think the ‘Cats post another 20-win season. The difference is that I’m less of a believer that this is THE YEAR for NU hoops without a clear starter at point guard. Nevertheless, several strong reasons do exist to believe the ‘Cats will be actually be better this year than last year.
1) The team is actually healthy. Everyone remembers that John Shurna played hurt most of last season, but many forget JerShon Cobb did as well. I think based on simply talent that Cobb is probably NU’s second best player (behind Shurna) which means that last year NU was playing with a serious handicap when both were hurt. With both healthy one can look at the world from a more optimistic point of view.
2) Freshman Impact. Bill Carmody hasn’t been afraid to use freshman over his time in Evanston and he’ll need production this year from Tre Demps and David Sobolewski. The good news is both should be able to help as either a starter at guard or off the bench. Both players are regarded as good scores who can hit an outside shot and both offer some size which could help in rebounding.
3) Defense. Yes, defense. Northwestern played much better defense at the end of last season when they started to trust the ability to play some man-to-man along with the 1-3-1. With Cobb and Shurna at 100% and Alex Marcotullio being one of the peskier defenders in the Big Ten, it’s actually reasonable to believe the ‘Cats should be able to win any game that they score more than 65 points in this year.
4) An experienced front court. Obviously, John Shurna has seen the court a ton over the past three years, but so have Luka Mirkovic and Davide Curletti. Drew Crawford has been a starter for two full seasons. That means everyone the ‘Cats put out at positions 3/4/5 will have at least two (if not three) years as a starter under their belt.
5) Shooting. Northwestern wins when they shoot well and they still have solid outside shooters in Shurna, Crawford, and Marcotullio. If Luka or Davide gets more involved from the top of the key and one of the freshman makes an impact as a scorer the ‘Cats should put up some big point totals.