2009-2010 Northwestern Wildcats Basketball Preview
The Northwestern Wildcats (17- 14 overall, 8- 10 Big Ten) made it to the NIT last season but were eliminated from the tournament in round one by Tulsa 68- 59. In the past five seasons, Northwestern has been to one post-season tourney. This year the Wildcats look to place seventh in the conference and make their way to the NIT once again.
Last year, Northwestern topped the conference in three-pointers, hitting at a rate of 39%. However, they were ninth in scoring offense, putting up an average of 63.5 PPG, while their scoring defense allowed 60.5 PPG. From the field they hit a respectable 45% of their shots, placing them fourth, but they were good only 69% of the time from the foul line (9th). In terms of rebound margin, the Cats placed last, posting a minus-4.9.
The frontcourt is looking better than it has in years. Senior forward Kevin Coble (15.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.5 APG) offers consistency. As an upperclassman, it’s time for Coble to be a leader on the court, which is something the unassuming forward may have trouble with. Look for sophomore John Shurna (7.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.0 APG) to see a lot more action this season. He’s got a fine three-point shot that the Cats want to exploit. The center spot will be shared by two sophomores: Luka Mirkovic (3.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.5 APG) and Kyle Rowley (3.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.6 APG). Mirkovic is skilled and offers accurate aim. Rowley, who stands seven-foot-even, showed improvement in his play around the basket.
The point guard spot will be the command of Mike Thompson (9.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.7 APG). Thompson has a killer three-point shot. On the other side of the court, senior Jeremy Nash (3.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.1 APG), who is a fine defensive player, will start. Nash must improve his shooting skills.
The Northwestern Wildcats, coached by Jim Carmody, are improved from last season but so too is the entire conference. Still, they should be back in the NIT mix. This Wildcat team has decent depth. Still, this season’s class of freshman is not as strong as it could be. If these Cats can play as tough as they did last year, they will actually have a shot at the NCAA Tournament. Whether they make the Big Dance or NIT, Northwestern will be a winner. That is as long as they don’t take a step back.