Men’s Basketball: Olah injury presents opportunity for van Zegeren, Pardon

Sam Krevlin, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Center Alex Olah’s foot injury forced many changes to the Northwestern lineup during the team’s 74-59 win against Loyola Maryland.

Olah will cheer from the sidelines for the next two to three weeks, forcing graduate transfer Joey van Zegeren to fill his big shoes. Olah produced four 21-point games and averaged a team-leading 6.5 rebounds. At the free throw line, Olah was shooting 72 percent on the year.

Olah’s injury leaves voids offensively and on the glass. In his absence, van Zegeren started at the center position in his first game coming off a foot injury. Van Zegeren came into the matchup averaging about 13.6 minutes per game, but finished Sundaywith 17 minutes.

The Greyhounds (1-10) were able to limit Northwestern (12-1) and van Zegeren early on. The center only scored 2 points and grabbed one rebound in the first half. However, after halftime, van Zegeren was able to help bring the Cats back in the game. The Cats quickly closed an 11-point deficit, shooting seven of 10 from the field to begin the second half.

After the game, coach Chris Collins praised van Zegeren and commented on his role as Olah remains sidelined.

“I can’t say enough about our two big guys (Dererk Pardon and van Zegeren),” Collins said. “We find out yesterday that Alex is going to be sidelined for the near future. For Joey, he’s had a stress fracture in his foot and really hasn’t done anything for three and a half weeks. For him to get out there and those two guys to man that center position those 40 minutes — I was really proud with what those two guys did.”

Pardon, who planned on redshirting his freshman year, was forced to make his season debut Sunday night. His strong second half performance, including six points was important to NU’s second half run, as Northwestern took its first lead with 11:44 to go in the second half.

“I was nervous coming into this game,” Pardon said. “I always had the mindset of staying ready. I felt like I would let my team down if I didn’t take off the redshirt. We have a great season going on, and it was the right time to do it.”

As NU enters conference play Wednesday at Nebraska, van Zegeren and Pardon will establish new and important roles to hopefully continue this season’s success.

“We all have to collectively pick up what he brought to the table,” guard Bryant McIntosh said. “It’s going to be tough just because (Olah) did so much for us.”

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