Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Men’s Basketball: Northwestern readies to brave road trip to Rutgers without Berry

Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Sophomore forward Nick Martinelli prepares to unleash his signature shot.

Entering its second consecutive game without senior guard Ty Berry after Sunday’s gritty battle against Penn State, Northwestern is now preparing to face off with a similarly set Rutgers squad.

The Wildcats (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) will need to find a rhythm without the 6-foot-3 senior after coach Chris Collins announced Wednesday that Berry will miss the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus.

Before Sunday, Berry had not missed a game since his freshman season. Starting in every game this year, the guard averaged 11.6 points, 1.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. Losing a key scorer and team leader casts a dark shadow over NU’s next two road contests, especially given the squad’s 2-5 away record. 

“We have to keep going (forward),” Collins said. “Guys are going to have to continue to step up and do whatever is necessary to try to fill whatever gaps we miss with not having Ty out there.”

Although Berry will be absent on the court, he remains with the team as a voice from the sidelines. 

Graduate student guard Boo Buie, who has lined up alongside Berry for four seasons, said the senior’s supportive energy will be essential down the stretch.

“It’s unfortunate that Ty won’t be with us anymore, on the court, but he’ll be with us in spirit, he’ll be with us in practice, his voice, his leadership,” Buie said. “I think we still have all the right pieces to do what we said we wanted to do before the season, and I think that he can do a great job leading from the side and helping the younger guys out.”

Looking ahead to Thursday’s matchup against the Scarlet Knights (13-10, 5-7 Big Ten), the ‘Cats are not in the best position for a straightforward win. Rutgers is on a three-game winning streak, most recently defeating then-No. 11 Wisconsin by 22 points on Saturday night. 

Facing the second-best defense in the conference — and center Clifford Omoruyi, who leads the conference in blocks per game — NU’s offense will need all hands on deck. 

Buie led the team’s scoring output in Sunday’s low-scoring contest against the Nittany Lions with 15 points and six assists. Given the offensive struggles that Collins’ squad typically faces on the road, coupled with Rutgers’ tough defense, junior guard Brooks Barnhizer and sophomore forward Nick Martinelli will be key to the visitors’ victory hopes.

“We got a good look at what we can do at Penn State. I think we struggled offensively but I think we showed that our defense can still be good enough to win, and we’re probably going to have to hang our hat there,” Barnhizer said.

The Scarlet Knights match up well in terms of height against the Wildcats, but Martinelli’s size combined with his trademark left-hand hook shot could push NU ahead. 

Following his Rutgers debut on Feb. 3, reigning Big Ten Player of The Week Jeremiah Williams has helped fuel the hosts’ recent hot streak. NU will need to limit Williams’ effectiveness and find other scoring avenues beyond Buie to secure the win. 

Before Williams joined the lineup, Rutgers’ offense was its biggest weakness, shooting 39.1% from the field and 29% from behind the arc. If the ‘Cats can put a stop to Williams while maintaining its scoring, the purple-and-white may be able to pull off a win. 

“We’re going to have to lean on our defense more, I think it’s getting better,” Collins said. “Having Brooks and Nick together with one of our big guys, we’ve out rebounded our opponents the last two nights, that’s been a real positive (with) what we’ve done and we’re going to have to continue that moving forward.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @taylorhancock23

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