#94 Northwestern Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Northwestern Wildcats

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #94
Conference Rank: #10 Big Ten

Northwestern Team Page#94 Northwestern Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Northwestern Basketball Tickets

Northwestern managed to make it through their relatively easy nonconference slate with only four losses. They even won their Big Ten opener at Rutgers. But then the schedule got tough and the Wildcats fell apart. They went well over a month without a win, losing ten games in a row. Starting with an overtime win over Iowa on February 15th, Northwestern won five of six heading into the last game of the season. If Northwestern forgets about the whooping by Iowa to end the regular season and the 15-point loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament, they actually have some momentum heading into the 2015-2016 season.

2014-15 Record: 15-17, 6-12
2014-15 Postseason: none
Coach: Chris Collins
Coach Record: 29-36 at Northwestern, 29-36 overall

Who’s Out:
JerShon Cobb’s production dropped during his senior season and he missed most of the winning streak during Big Ten play anyway. Cobb meant everything to Northwestern heading into the season, but the Wildcats learned how to win without him in February. As the only departed player who averaged over 11 minutes per game, Northwestern has to believe that this isn’t as big of a loss as it seems like it should be. In 2014-2015 Cobb averaged 6.1 points per game after tallying 12.2 per contest in 2013-2014. Dave Sobolewski was nearly a double digit scorer earlier in his Northwestern career; last year he barely reaching double digits in minutes. That says a lot about the talent level that is increasing at Northwestern, but Sobolewski still provided leadership. Little used Jeremiah Kreisberg and Johnnie Vassar are the only other departures.

Who’s In:
Coach Chris Collins continues to bring in talent, but the newcomer who is expected to make the biggest impact has just one year left to do it. Joey van Zegeren, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, brings more size to the frontcourt. Back in 2013-2014, his last full season with the Hokies, van Zegeren averaged 6.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Last season he averaged 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 13 games. He is a traditional big man who will stay in the paint. Incoming freshmen Derek Pardon and Aaron Falzon will add more option to the frontcourt. Falzon, a 6-8, 205 pound forward from Newton, Massachusetts, is the one who could make a bigger impact this year. He has size, but unlike van Zegeren, Falzon can knock down three-pointers. Combo guard Jordan Ash should spend much of his collegiate career off the ball since he is such a good athlete, but he will be a great secondary ball handler as the shooting guard of the future.  

Who to Watch:
Tre Demps led Northwestern with 12.5 points per game and he is always willing to take the big shots. His ability to create off of the dribble is hugely important for a team that can struggle to make things happen offensively and ranked 12th in the Big Ten in scoring offense. Bryant McIntosh was supposed to earn some minutes as a freshman, but few expected him to averaged 11.4 points and 4.7 assists in his debut campaign. He turned into somebody who could do more than pass. McIntosh knocked down 36.4 percent of his 110 attempts from long range and will make any defender who drops off of him pay. Scottie Lindsey is another sophomore who is coming off of a solid freshman campaign. Lindsey averaged just 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, but has already proven to be a shooter with great range. Sanjay Lumpkin, a 6-6 junior wing, averaged 4.3 points and 3.8 rebounds last season. His ability to rebound more from the wing than Lindsey is important for a team that struggled consistently on the glass. Lumpkin has played power forward for Northwestern, but sophomore Vic Law can be an undersized four too, although he is certainly better suited to play on the wing. Among the sophomores, Law was the big recruit for Northwestern, but got overshadowed by McIntosh. Still, Law averaged 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Final Projection:
The new frontcourt depth figures to help on the glass and push Nathan Taphorn and Gavin Skelly for playing time. Alex Olah, a 7-0 senior center, will be on the floor as often as possible. He was the team’s second leading scorer with 11.7 points per game and easily led the squad in rebounding and blocked shots. Olah is a tough player on both ends of the floor and gives Northwestern somebody who can fight in the paint against Big Ten big men. While this team should be better than they were in 2014-2015, it may not show in the conference win column. However, with plenty of experience, Northwestern should get off to a better start and at least finish over .500. That is enough to compete for a spot in the NIT and reach the CBI.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Bryant McIntosh, Sophomore, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Tre Demps, Senior, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Sanjay Lumpkin, Junior, Guard, 4.3 points per game
Vic Law, Sophomore, Forward, 7.0 points per game
Alex Olah, Senior, Center, 11.7 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 63.5 (273rd in nation, 12th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.6 (124, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.6 (164, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (104, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (92, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.9 (96, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.2 (45, 6)
Rebound Margin: -0.7 (219, 10)
Assists Per Game: 14.4 (52, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (53, 5)

Madness 2015 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#98 Aaron Falzon


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