Men’s Basketball: Wildcats discuss replacing Demps, Olah at Big Ten Media Day


Daily file photo by Jacob Swan

Chris Collins jumps on the sideline. Heading into his fourth season, the coach is looking for players to step into the holes left by the graduations of Tre Demps and Alex Olah.

Dan Waldman, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

WASHINGTON — After the departures of Tre Demps and Alex Olah, Northwestern is entering a new era.

Coach Chris Collins, along with co-captains junior point guard Bryant McIntosh and senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin, spoke about the transition Thursday at Big Ten Media Day, where Collins gave hints about how the Wildcats plan to replace the pair.

Although Olah leaves as NU’s all-time blocked shot leader, Collins said he is confident in the team’s current options in the middle. The Cats will be led down low by sophomore Dererk Pardon, who almost didn’t play last season.

“We had planned to redshirt him the first 11 games last year and decided to play him, and he went for (28 points and 12 rebounds) in his first game on the road,” Collins said. “So great decision by me.”

Collins said center is the team’s youngest position, with Pardon and freshman Barret Benson tasked with replacing Olah. Collins also said junior forward Gavin Skelly could see time at center if the younger big men get in foul trouble early in games.

Lumpkin said Skelly has had “an amazing preseason” and fits a versatile role in the team’s system. Collins also told The Daily that Skelly could be “a guy who starts for us by the end of the season.”

Although there are questions inside, NU gets back sophomore forward Vic Law. Collins called Law a “jack-of-all-trades” type of player because of his ability to rebound, score and stretch the floor and told The Daily he could even play some guard this season.

“He can be a double-figure scorer,” Collins said. “But he’s a very good rebounder. He can be a versatile defender. He’s a playmaker … He just does a little bit of everything.”

Along with the return of Law, NU will return three starters, including a more confident McIntosh.

McIntosh said he needs to be more aggressive on offense this season. For the first time in his career, he will not have Tre Demps in the backcourt with him, but the junior said the trio of sophomore Jordan Ash, junior Scottie Lindsey and freshman Isiah Brown will work as a committee to fill the hole Demps left.

“It’ll be different, but the one good thing is you’ll get a couple different looks from each of them,” McIntosh told The Daily. “Where Tre and I were pretty consistent, we knew what we were going to get from us; those other guys can do different things.”

McIntosh told The Daily he has improved his game after spending time in the offseason at Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry’s camp. He said he picked up different moves to add to his arsenal from “the most skilled player in the world.”

“I picked up a little range this summer,” McIntosh told The Daily. “We’ll see how green my light is this year.”

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