The Wildcats finished their nonconference schedule with a 9-4 record, after splitting two games over the weekend. Big Ten season is next on the agenda for Northwestern, which will open up against the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines.
During the nonconference season, Northwestern has shown it can compete, fight, and is very fun to watch. However, the Wildcats have been inconsistent with their effort defensively their chemistry offensively is still a work in progress. One thing for certain about this Northwestern basketball team is it has improved since the first game, and the players are getting better.
Alex Olah has shown glimpses of great things to come in his future as a Northwestern Wildcat. I even refer to Olah as "Baby Eschmeyer." You can’t teach size, but Olah has the attributes and skill set his game that the coaching staff can enhance and help mold. Olah has potential of being a dominant center in the Big Ten as Evan Eschmeyer was.
During the last two weeks, I've written how Northwestern needed an inside presence. Against Stanford, the Romanian answered my prayers, playing his best game as a Wildcat with 16 points, but also competing as well with the Cardinals on the defensive end. Reggie Hearn who poured in 18 points injured his ankle during the contest. Tre Demps played well scoring 12 points in the second half, but the Wildcats fell short to Stanford 70-68 after trailing by 18 points.
Demps has really made me proud because I totally understand a guy who has good one-on-one ability trying to find himself in Coach Carmody's system. Throughout the summer and during pre-season, the advice I would give Demps is to be confident with his work ethic and allow things to come to him on the court. Sometimes as a player, results of your hard work won't show due to forcing the issue on the court. Tre has now settled into his comfort zone, taken advantage of the opportunities presented in the offense, and once the basketball started falling, his confidence grew. Due to Demps’ patience, his minutes on the court as well as all the work he puts into his game will show a lot more.
Sunday, Brown University from the Ivy League came into Evanston, Illinois where Northwestern made it rain from three-point land, shooting 54.2 percent. The Wildcats had a balanced attack and this game wasn't close at all. Winning 63-42 Dave Sobolewski led all scores with 14 points and 8 assist. Jared Swopshire, "Mr. Stat Sheet Filler," finished the game with eight points, four assist and rebounds, one block, and two steals. I love Swopshire's game when he comes to play. He does the little things that helps a team win.
During halftime of the Brown game, I got a chance to wear my No. 25 jersey in front of the Northwestern fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena, shooting against Tim Doyle in a three-point contest. I ended up shooting hitting four shots and Doyle ended up winning with eight. It's a little different shooting off a rack, but fun nevertheless. Doyle and I were teammates for a year and that’s probably the first shooting drill Tim has won. Oh well, it's the season of giving!
Happy Holidays to everyone. Enjoy time with your family, friends, and loved ones.
Follow on Twitter: @Jitim Young
Jitim Young was a standout for Northwestern from 2000-2004. A Chicago native, he now serves as color commentator for NU basketball on WGN Radio 720.