Women’s Basketball: ‘It doesn’t matter what position you’re in’: How Jordan Hamilton’s sacrifice helped Northwestern


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Jordan Hamilton drives the lane. The junior guard has thrived in a bench role this season.

Charlie Goldsmith, Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

The day Jordan Hamilton walked on campus in 2017, coach Joe McKeown gave her the ball and told her to get ready to be Northwestern’s starting point guard.

During her freshman year, Hamilton established herself as a starter before Lindsey Pulliam, but eventually the two young guards became the best freshman backcourt in the Big Ten. They started every game together when healthy, and they helped lead the Wildcats to the WNIT Final last season.

After missing a few games with an injury early in the season, McKeown moved Hamilton to the bench for the first time of her career. But heading into NU’s (20-3, 10-2 Big Ten) game Thursday at Michigan (16-7, 7-5), Hamilton has been one of the most effective bench guards in the conference.

“She’s really embraced that role as is maybe the top sixth player of the year,” McKeown said. “She changes the game and changes the tempo. I’m proud of her because she started as a freshman and sophomore, and it says a lot to our team how unselfish she is.”

During nonconference play, Hamilton dealt with a lingering injury that caused her to miss five games. She started the Cats’ season opener against Loyola Maryland and took ten shots in 21 minutes of action. Then Hamilton missed NU’s game against Marquette, but she returned three days later to play nine minutes against Duke.

After that, Hamilton sat on the bench for almost a month, and she watched sophomores Veronica Burton and Sydney Wood prove to be two of the best defenders in the country. The new look backcourt led the Cats to a hot start, and Hamilton lost her starting spot when she returned Dec. 16.

“When you’re trying to get back in your groove and injuries spring up, it’s tough,” Hamilton said. “Mentally I’ve grown from it. It’s frustrating to be hurt because you want to be out there, but seeing your teammates be successful while you’re out is rewarding.”

Even though she’s averaging a career low in points per game, Hamilton has been especially productive during Big Ten play. As the first player off the bench, she’s helped lead NU on game changing runs late in the first quarter against Michigan, Michigan State and Maryland.

McKeown said the Cats wouldn’t be near the top of the conference standing without Hamilton’s play off the bench. He called Hamilton one of the most explosive transition players in the Big Ten, and she averages over a steal per game.

Even though she’s not on the floor with Pulliam when the game starts, Hamilton said she’s impacting the game as much as she ever has.

“It doesn’t matter what position you’re in,” Hamilton said. “As long as you’re bringing that same intensity, that’s what’s going to make your team better. You can’t have any let downs, and it doesn’t matter if you’re starting or coming off the bench.”

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Twitter: @2021_charlie