Women’s Basketball: Northwestern looks to regroup in the post-Burton era


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Fifth-year forward Courtney Shaw leads a veteran team ready to rebound from a disappointing 2021-22 season.

Russell Leung, Copy Chief

Northwestern may have lost one of its greatest players ever, but coach Joe McKeown’s Wildcats will aim to maintain the same level of success as in recent years in the upcoming season.

Replacing All-American Veronica Burton, the 2022 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year and current point guard for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings, is no easy task. The beloved “Backcourt Burglar” served as team captain and led the Cats in points, assists and steals last season. 

Nevertheless, there are players ready to step up in the wake of Burton’s departure. Fifth-year forward and All-Big Ten honorable mention Courtney Shaw,  who averaged 8.1 points and led the team in rebounds, returns to stabilize the frontcourt. A pair of reliable veteran guards in senior Laya Hartman and fifth-year Sydney Wood also returns. 

The team’s younger players are poised to take the next step as well. Sophomore guard Jillian Brown has averaged 8 points and should see more ball-handling responsibilities this year, and sophomore forward and team blocks leader Caileigh Walsh continues to hold her own in the post. As guards Jess Santalcado and Lauryn Satterwhite depart, NU bolsters its backcourt depth with espnW 100 recruit Caroline Lau. 

The Cats suffered a relatively disappointing season in 2021-22, going 17-12 (8-8 Big Ten), and barely missed an NCAA Tournament berth just two years after winning the Big Ten regular-season crown and one year after making the second round of the Big Dance. They will have to navigate a perennially loaded Big Ten that features contenders like Iowa, Ohio State and Indiana. But this team has enough talent and experience to make another run toward postseason success.

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