Men’s Basketball: Law leads Northwestern into new era


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Vic Law attacks the basket. The senior forward will lead Northwestern in 2018-19.

Jonah Dylan, Managing Editor

Men’s Basketball

In 2014, before Vic Law played a second of college basketball, his coach already had high praise for the 6-foot-7 forward.

“The thing I love about Vic is really his all-around skill set,” coach Chris Collins said in October 2014. “Vic’s one of those guys that’s going to stuff a stat sheet.”

Four years later, the senior has stuffed more than a few stat sheets. He’s been one of Northwestern’s most consistent players as the Wildcats continue to navigate the Collins era, and he’s got a shot to be NU’s first NBA draft pick of the 21st century.

The pressure was always on Law, a Chicago native who came to Evanston as the highest-rated recruit in NU history. He was part of easily the most accomplished class in program history, joining Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly in Collins’ inaugural recruiting haul.

But now those three are gone, and Law will be asked to lead the Cats in a way he never has before. Even on a team with three seniors and one graduate transfer, Law stands out as the most accomplished. When NU most needs a bucket, the lanky forward will be the one asked to put the young team on his back.

Law — who will probably have to play multiple positions this season — said he spent time in the offseason working on a couple different aspects of his game.

“(I focused on) ball handling and being a better team leader on the court,” he said. “Getting guys in the right spots, knowing the offense and being able to relieve pressure for some of our guards when they’re being pressured full court.”

Unlike a lot of freshmen in Collins’ system, Law was asked to contribute the second he got to Evanston. He responded well, averaging seven points a game and making 19 starts in the season. The rising star was expected to take on a major role in his sophomore campaign.

But a torn labrum ended his second season before it even began, and he was forced to take a redshirt year. When he returned to the lineup in 2016, the makeup of the team had changed considerably. Volume scorer Tre Demps was gone, and Collins needed McIntosh, Lindsey and Law to take on much larger roles.

And they all did. Law catalysed NU to an unbelievable season capped off by a historic NCAA tournament berth. He averaged 12.3 points a game and was instrumental to the Cats’ high-level defense throughout the season, often being asked to guard the opposing team’s best player, regardless of position.

His numbers dropped a little bit in NU’s disappointing 2017-18 campaign as a plethora of issues derailed the Cats’ season from the get-go. Personally, Law struggled with injuries, including one that left him bench-ridden for NU’s season-ending loss in the Big Ten tournament.

Then after the season, he underwent surgery to help his lung capacity.

“It’s been good,” he said. “Since surgery I haven’t been hurt, so I don’t know if it led to any other significant injuries or what have you. But I feel good in every practice, every scrimmage. So just feel good and ready to keep going.”

Law is one of the Cats’ captains for this season, along with seniors Dererk Pardon and Jordan Ash. Anyway you slice it, the Cats will need contributions from a number of freshmen and transfers — and those three will be key to getting everyone integrated.

“As a team, we just want to compete every day. Making sure we’re fighting every day, that we don’t have a lack of want to or effort,” Pardon said. “So just coming in every day to fight, and we’ll get what we deserve at the end.”

When NU takes the court for its opener Thursday against New Orleans, fans won’t see the familiar faces of McIntosh, Lindsey and Skelly to lead the Cats. But Law — a constant throughout Collins’ tenure in Evanston — will be front and center, and that might be all NU needs.

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