2007 Northwestern Wildcats Basketball Preview
The Northwestern Wildcats (13- 18 overall, 2- 14 Big Ten) have never been to NCAA March Madness. Last year they tied for tenth in the Big Ten. Coach Bill Carmody (95- 113 in seven years with Northwestern, 187- 138 overall in 11 years) has spent seven years building the program, attracting better recruits each year and getting a new arena built. Is this the year that the Wildcats go to the Big Dance?
Showing good ball handling, the Cats had only 10.9 TPG per game, which was best in the conference, and the fourth best scoring defense, which allowed 58.7 PPG. Those two stats gave the Wildcats something to roar about in the college basketball point spreads. But the club’s rebounding and scoring were dismal, as they were rated eleventh in both categories. They have to put up more than 56.5 PPG and vastly improve their minus-8.7 rebounding margin to be competitive in the college basketball picks.
Sophomore forward Kevin Coble (13.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 49.4 FG%) had a fine freshman season last year. He can hit midrange jumpers and is comfortable around the basket. Look for another sophomore, Jeff Ryan (5.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 46.8 FG%), to get plenty of playing time upfront. Ryan has speed and smarts but must improve on short shots and lay-ups. There are three freshmen who will most likely see playing time—Mike Capocci, Nikola Baran and Ivan Peljusic.
Look for talented first-year player Michael Thompson to compete for the point guard position. He’s a good athlete with fine speed that can really help Northwestern’s transition game. Three returning guards will play important roles, including junior Craig Moore (8.1PPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 36.7 FG%). Moore is working on improving his 33% success rate from three-point land. His sophomore season was a disappointment after a Big Ten All-Freshmen year.
The fact is Carmody has his program ready and waiting to break through to the next level. He has got a pair of fine guards who can lead the way. The Wildcats will need to bang better inside and grab the ball off the rim and the team’s perimeter game must improve. And this years NCAA tournament bid is not out of the question.