For Northwestern Basketball Fans, Looking to Next Year Doesn’t Help Much

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As disappointing as last season was for Northwestern basketball, it was not rock bottom for the program. As awful as this season has gone, it may not be the bedrock either. With NU currently sporting a ten game losing streak and maintaining a very strong chance of finishing dead last un the league, Wildcats fans have been looking beyond this year for quite some time already.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much reason for optimism there, as Northwestern is going to lose an overwhelming majority of its scoring, rebounding, experience and leadership from this year’s squad. Next year will indeed be a hard rebuild, a total reboot.

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It’s a far cry from the media darlings they were two NCAA Tournaments ago. All the NU alums in the sports media will need to find a new team to back this March Madness. Everyone roots for the team they pick in their brackets of course, and you can use this TwinSpires promo code if you are doing some sports wagering this month. After all, this is a massive month for sports gambling all over the world.

For Northwestern though, they will not be taking part in The Big Dance unless they can pull off an Earth shattering upset in the Big Ten Tournament, and unfortunately, they will play in that tournament as most likely the bottom overall seed.

That’s this season, and sadly next season doesn’t look much better. Three of the Cats’ five starters: Vic Law, Dererk Pardon and Ryan Taylor will be all gone due to graduation. That’s the team’s top three scorers (about 2/3 of their average point total), top two rebounders, top two in blocks and top three in steals.

In other words, next year equals a cold restart of your machine, with Anthony Gaines and A.J. Turner the only real significant returnees with which to try and build a core nucleus. Year six has been decidedly the worst of the Chris Collins era in Evanston, and year seven might not be much better.

The number one key to potentially improving next year is point guard play. Due to recruiting mishaps, Northwestern doesn’t have a real point guard on the roster right now, and that’s why their offense has been among the worst in the nation. It’s resulted in games that are not just losses, but also brutally awful to watch.

It would be one thing if Northwestern was losing, but high-scoring and fun to watch…They are definitely not that.

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Following his team’s 62-50 win at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday night, Minnesota coach Richard Pitino was asked about why he thinks Northwestern has had such woes this campaign.

“They don’t have a pure point guard, and they don’t shoot the ball great,” he responded. 

“Chris runs awesome stuff, probably some of the best offensive sets in the league, but when you’re playing Vic Law at the point, Anthony Gaines at the point, those are guys who are not playing the right positions, so it’s really really hard.”

“I know they’re scratching and clawing to find ways to get an offensive flow, but that’s pretty much it right there.”

You can always count on Richard Pitino to cut through all the b.s. and give a sound bite that tells it like it is.

Whether it’s realizing, years ahead of the rest of us, how Twitter is a pointless waste land, or articulating the strange ambivalence that accompanies winning the N.I.T., Pitino’s press conference game is very often on point.

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He might have to settle for the N.I.T. again this year.

Collins said the following in regards to his team’s having a down year on Thursday night:

“We’ve had our struggles, and it’s not because of effort, and it’s not because of attitude. Until they tell us we don’t have any more games, we’re gonna keep preparing.”

Will there be relief next season?

The incoming recruiting class is ranked fourth the Big Ten and 37th overall, and most importantly, it includes Daniel Buie, who is classified as a point guard. However, one must remember that the 2018 recruiting class, ranked 33rd nationally, was NU’s highest-ranked class in recorded history (records go back to 1999), and it hasn’t led to any winning at all.

chris collins northwestern basketball

The Minnesota game was a back-breaker because it was the most winnable game of the run-in for NU. Now it is very likely that the Cats could end the season on a 13 game skid.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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