Men’s Basketball: McIntosh poised to lead Cats in 2016-2017


Daily file photo by Jacob Swan

Bryant McIntosh pushes the ball. The junior guard will be expected to take a leading role for Northwestern this season.

Aidan Markey, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

As a freshman, Bryant McIntosh walked through the doors of Welsh-Ryan Arena looking to help turn a program around. Two years later, the junior point guard is at the helm of the team, leading the effort to do just that.

“McIntosh is going to be our leader,” coach Chris Collins said. “There’s no question.”

The backcourt of McIntosh and now-graduated Tre Demps was a large part of the team’s success last season, when NU earned its first 20-win regular season in program history. However, the Cats fell to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament, stifling the team’s hopes for a first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The hypotheticals lingered in McIntosh’s mind. To avoid such a heartbreaking moment during this year’s campaign, he knew he had to push himself harder than ever before.

“I wanted to become a better defender, especially guarding my position,” McIntosh said.

To do so, he filled his summer with workouts and conditioning exercises. McIntosh said the regimen paid dividends, improving his strength and lateral quickness noticeably and preparing him for a conference featuring some of the nation’s top perimeter players.

Collins said McIntosh’s physical improvement should help the guard to take his next step as a basketball player.

But in Collins’ eyes, McIntosh must add to his defensive development by also improving his offensive output. Without Demps and graduated center Alex Olah, another substantial contributor from last season, McIntosh has to be the solid foundation for the Cats’ offense.

“I’d like for him to be more consistent of a shooter. I thought at times that he was a little streaky” Collins said of his point guard’s performance last season. “I’d like to see him get to 15 (points) per game.”

Though McIntosh’s physical improvements will help him vie for recognition as one of the conference’s best guards, his on-court leadership and rapport with his teammates could be the most critical part of the Cats’ success this season.

In particular, McIntosh’s tutelage could help freshman guard Isiah Brown blend into the backcourt mix. Brown is the all-time leading scorer in Seattle high school basketball history, and the dynamic guard presents another option to run the offense and make plays when the team needs it.

McIntosh is focused on mentoring Brown in the same way Demps guided McIntosh during his first year with the Cats.

“This year, I have to be the older brother,” McIntosh said. “Isiah is who I’m trying to focus on and take under my wing.”

Brown and junior guard Scottie Lindsey, who averaged 6.4 points per game last season, are set to be the noteworthy contributors with McIntosh on the perimeter.

Outside of the backcourt, the rest of the team has also fully embraced McIntosh’s status as head of the team. They voted him captain, a role that comes with hefty on-the-court and off-the-court responsibilities.

“I’ve been through a lot,” McIntosh said. “I feel like I can take my experiences and provide some help for these younger guys and for the guys that maybe haven’t experienced as much.”

Sophomore forward Vic Law said he and the other members of the team are thrilled to see McIntosh take command on the court and in the locker room.

“I’m happy that he’s progressing like he is,” Law said. “I feel like I can complement him well and do what I need to do right next to him so he can keep playing how he is playing.”

A brutally competitive season of Big Ten play is on the horizon. The conference has five teams ranked in the AP preseason top 25, and NU is set to play all of them.

But with last season’s downfalls behind him and inviting challenges in front, McIntosh is ready to lead the Cats to unexplored heights.

“This is a new team,” he said. “This is our team.”

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