Men’s Basketball: Law, Brown set to be difference-makers as Northwestern begins season


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

Vic Law reaches for the rim. The sophomore forward scored 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting in last Friday’s exhibition game against Illinois-Springfield.

Max Schuman, Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

On the surface, there aren’t many similarities between Isiah Brown and Vic Law, the two biggest additions to Northwestern’s rotation this season.

The first is a freshman guard, inexperienced but known as a natural scorer who broke the career scoring record for Seattle high school players. The other is a redshirt sophomore forward, highly touted out of high school for his versatile skillset and ruled out with a shoulder injury before he could take the floor for the Wildcats last year.

The duo play different positions, have different strengths and are at completely different stages of their collegiate careers. But when NU begins its new season against Mississippi Valley State on Friday, both Brown and Law will share the label of X-factors that can help push the Cats to new heights.

In his first appearance for NU in last Friday’s exhibition against Illinois-Springfield, Brown was a revelation, scoring 18 points in 23 minutes on the floor. He shot an efficient 7-for-11 from the field and flashed dynamic scoring ability, albeit against a lesser opponent.

“Ever since Isiah came to campus, he’s been like a lightning rod of energy,” coach Chris Collins said. “He’s electric with the ball. He can really score. He can make plays. … There’s no question this year that he’s going to be a big part of what we do.”

Brown figures to be a spark off the bench this season, spelling junior guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey, and his attacking mentality should add a new dimension to the backcourt. That confidence translated immediately in his first collegiate action, as he knocked down pull-up jumpers and got to the rim frequently.

With his pedigree as a volume scorer, Brown has a chance to be the game-changing reserve the Cats lacked last year.

“My job is to put pressure on the defense, play in attack-mode and be aggressive,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things, but when I come in I want to make an impact right away.”

Law’s return to the court wasn’t quite as auspicious. The sophomore scored 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting in his first action since spring 2015. Although he hit double-figures in points, the forward was out of rhythm for most of the game after early foul trouble, hitting 2-of-6 three point attempts and turning the ball over twice in his 22-minute stint.

But Law’s impact was felt as a playmaker on the defensive side, as he notched three steals and two blocks. Law’s blend of size and athleticism is unmatched in NU’s forward group, and his exhibition showing was a reminder he can make a difference for the Cats even when he’s not playing his best.

“I think just shaking the jitters off was good,” Law said. “I was satisfied with my performance, I’ll say. I wasn’t necessarily happy … Hopefully I’ll play better going forward.”

Much of NU’s rotation returns from last season’s team, which won 20 games on the back of a soft nonconference schedule and ran into trouble against more talented teams in the Big Ten. Although improvement from the returners can help, Brown and Law represent the Cats’ best chance of closing the talent gap with their conference foes.

It’s a lot to ask of the two players, one finding his way in college and another finding his way back from injury. But starting with Friday’s game, the play of Brown and Law and the new skills they bring could define NU’s upside this season.

“We’ve been pretty predictable — not that that’s bad, but we’ve been pretty predictable with what we’ve had.” Collins said. “Now I think we have more versatility and more guys who can get out there and do some things, which will help us hopefully win.”

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