Men’s Basketball: Northwestern prepares for season opener against Loyola

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Men’s Basketball: Northwestern prepares for season opener against Loyola

Scottie Lindsey scans the court. The senior guard and the Wildcats will open their season Friday against Loyola Maryland.

Scottie Lindsey scans the court. The senior guard and the Wildcats will open their season Friday against Loyola Maryland.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Scottie Lindsey scans the court. The senior guard and the Wildcats will open their season Friday against Loyola Maryland.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Scottie Lindsey scans the court. The senior guard and the Wildcats will open their season Friday against Loyola Maryland.

Jonah Dylan, Sports Editor

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Men’s Basketball


Northwestern has never been here before.

The No. 19 Wildcats will open their season Friday as a ranked team for the first time when they take on Loyola Maryland at Allstate Arena. It will be NU’s first game since it lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament back in March.

“I do think it’s new territory,” coach Chris Collins said. “We haven’t been praised before coming into a season. We haven’t been thought of as a top team, as someone who can compete in our conference.”

The Cats are returning four of five starters in senior guards Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh, junior forward Vic Law and junior center Dererk Pardon. All four were named captains in October, and will look to lead the team into a season where NU is expected to compete for a Big Ten title.

Who the fifth starter will be, however, remains to be seen. Senior forward Gavin Skelly should see an increased role and could get the start against the Greyhounds, while sophomore forward Aaron Falzon, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a knee injury after starting as a freshman, might also figure into the mix. Redshirt freshman forward Rapolas Ivanauskas could also earn playing time at the forward position.

Loyola, which plays in the Patriot League, finished 16-17 last season and earned a postseason bid to the College Basketball Invitational, where it fell to Coastal Carolina in the second round. The Greyhounds will be led by senior guard Andre Walker, who paced the team with 14.9 points per game a season ago and earned first-team All-Patriot League honors.

But he’ll have to match up with McIntosh or Lindsey, who each averaged over 14 points per game in 2016-17. Lindsey said the Cats are focused on taking each game one at a time.

“We realize what being ranked means, and we realize what our expectations are for this season,” he said. “So we’re just trying to play up to those expectations and do everything that coach wants us to do.”

Both Ivanauskas and freshman guard Anthony Gaines are expected to make their NU debuts on Friday. Gaines could earn playing time behind Lindsey and Law and could also figure into a potential small-ball lineup that features Law at the power forward position.

The Cats will have ample opportunities to experiment with different lineups at the beginning of the season, as they’ll kick off a brutal stretch of five games in 10 days beginning Friday. Collins said the team understands the importance of the early slate.

“For the guys, they understand the importance of November and December,” he said. “If you want to be talked about later in the year, you can’t stub your toe.”

Despite the high expectations, Law said NU is hungry for more success.

“We only made it to the second round of the tournament,” he said. “There’s a lot more room for us to grow, we haven’t really accomplished anything yet. We’re a program that’s made one tournament, so I think we can still build.”

Email: jonahdylan2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @thejonahdylan

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