Men’s Basketball: Freshman Lindsey’s defense key for Northwestern against Purdue


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Scottie Lindsey elevates for the shot. The freshman forward has seen an increase in responsibility lately and adds a key defensive presence the Cats will need against Purdue’s guards.

Bobby Pillote, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

Northwestern seems to inch closer to victory with each passing defeat.

The Wildcats (10-10, 1-6 Big Ten) are hoping the seventh time is the charm when they face Purdue (13-8, 5-3) Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. NU has lost its last six games, and its last five by margins of 7 points or fewer in an increasingly gut-wrenching fashion.

“We’re being tested,” coach Chris Collins said. “The first thing is we’re playing really well. The second thing is we have to learn how to finish the games off.”

The Cats are doing their best to keep their eyes focused on the Boilermakers, and forward Scottie Lindsey is sure to be a part of NU’s winning equation going forward. The lanky freshman played 21 minutes against Michigan, made his first career start against Ohio State and performed well enough to earn a subsequent start against Maryland.

Those 21 minutes against the Wolverines are telling. Lindsey was tasked with the difficult job of defending guard Caris LeVert, Michigan’s top offensive threat.

“He’s constantly moving, he’s constantly going around screens,” Lindsey said of LeVert. “I had to be disciplined, stay down and get over screens and give my full effort.”

Despite starting the past two games, Lindsey played just 25 combined minutes and posted only 2 points, three rebounds and two blocks between the two contests. Lindsey said his role is mostly defensive, and teammates insist he also adds energy to the starting lineup.

“He’s brought some juice,” freshman guard Bryant McIntosh said. “I think he really grew up at the Michigan game. … His growth has really helped us, and he’s playing with confidence.”

When he does touch the ball on offense Lindsey is one of the more efficient scorers on the team, having hit 12 of his 29 attempted 3-pointers this season. Still, there’s no doubting defense is his primary role.

Lindsey possesses impressive reach and quickness for a 6-foot-5-inch player, traits that make him a perfect choice to defend Purdue’s dynamic backcourt tandem of guards Rapheal Davis and Kendall Stephens. The pair is listed at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively, and averages a combined 20.7 points per game.

Lindsey will have his hands full with switches off of picks, but his wide wingspan should afford him opportunities to disrupt passing lanes and generate steals for NU. The latter will be especially important, as the Cats average an abysmal 3.3 steals per game — last in the Big Ten by nearly two steals per contest. Lindsey is confident in his athleticism aiding on this desperate front.

“I think I would play tennis (if I weren’t playing basketball),” Lindsey said. “I’m so long I could cover the whole court, and I think I would have a pretty good serve too.”

The new starter has kept a positive attitude in light of the Cats’ ongoing struggles and the added pressure of playing more minutes. As Collins continues to experiment with his roster, Lindsey provides a steady defensive presence on the court that can help NU break through for the second conference win it has already come so close to.

But Collins is also taking care that his team doesn’t become stuck with tunnel vision, recalling from his personal experience that the sting of a close loss can become a powerful motivator.

“We won a national championship (at Duke) in 2010 with a bunch of juniors and seniors,” Collins said. “When they were freshmen they lost to VCU in the first round (of the NCAA Tournament).”

The Cats now sit alone at the bottom of the Big Ten and still have rematches against Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State on the schedule. Whichever motivational tact he settles on, Collins should hope it takes hold soon.

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