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’s departing veterans write dream final home chapter against Minnesota

Graduate+student+guard+Boo+Buie+reaches+out+to+a+young+fan+courtside+Saturday+night.+Buie+played+his+final+minutes+at+Welsh-Ryan+Arena+against+Minnesota.
Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern
Graduate student guard Boo Buie reaches out to a young fan courtside Saturday night. Buie played his final minutes at Welsh-Ryan Arena against Minnesota.

With less than 90 seconds remaining in Northwestern’s blowout Senior Night victory over Minnesota, graduate student guard Boo Buie dutifully dribbled down the shot clock of his final possession inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.

In one final magical moment for a game-breaking point guard geared to ascend the purple program’s pantheon within a renovated fortress where proverbial lightning often struck, coach Chris Collins gave a simple command to Buie Saturday evening: It was go-time.

“I knew I was gonna shoot the three the whole time,” Buie said. “(Collins) told me to wait until 12 on the shot clock, and when it turned to 12 he started yelling ‘Go, go.’ I’m just waiting there — 10, nine, eight.”

As the game clock ticked under 70 seconds, Buie set his feet, lifted off and launched a silky smooth jump shot from his white-taped wrist that effortlessly found nothing but net. 

Just as his first career points came 1,583 days before on a 3-pointer against Merrimack, Buie’s playing days in Evanston drew to a close of a downtown delivery.

“Last year, I kind of knew I was coming back, so it didn’t really feel like senior night,” Buie said. “This year, I shed some tears in the postgame interview because I actually felt like ‘Wow, I’m never going to play here again.’ To think about that is kind of crazy.”

Seconds later, he trotted off his home court one final time, embracing the coach who believed in him — a man whose belief in an unheralded Buie paid off more than he could have possibly imagined.

“My whole life, I’ve been an underdog,” Buie said. “Coach Collins … could’ve decided after those first two seasons of us being complete trash to go and seek another point guard … I truly believe you grow through tough times, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

On a night when the Wildcats (21-10, 12-8 Big Ten) seniors and fifth-years were honored in a pregame ceremony, the program’s three departing graduate students — Buie, guard Ryan Langborg and forward Blake Preston — each penned a dream final regular season chapter against the Golden Gophers (18-13, 9-11 Big Ten).

Langborg poured in 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while knocking down 3-of-4 3-pointers. The Princeton transfer transcended his initial appeal as a spot-up shooter throughout the campaign, and his two steals and six assists showcased a modicum of his invaluable presence for NU.

“It’s been awesome playing here,” Langborg said. “Northwestern has welcomed me. It’s exceeded all my expectations. It’s been unbelievable”

With senior center Matthew Nicholson sidelined due to a right foot injury, Preston had received an increased minutes’ share in his last two games. Although his playing time shot up, minimal production followed — until Saturday night.

The former Liberty forward appeared right at home in the purple painted area, slamming home four first-half dunks, dishing out four dimes and logging a season-high 25 minutes. It takes more than one contributor to fill a seven-footer’s stupendous shoes, but Preston proved he was ready when Collins called his number.

“I’m sure at times he wanted to have a bigger role,” Collins said. “Matt and (sophomore forward Luke Hunger) had kind of emerged, and he was the third guy not playing. But, I kept telling him, ‘You’re gonna be needed — you’re here for a reason.’”

For three players with a combined 15 years of college basketball experience, Saturday night’s comprehensive victory capped their regular season careers on a high note, but it also punched a ticket back to the dance for the second consecutive season.

Collins said he hopes the postseason push lasts as long as possible, as he cherishes each second with the point guard who brought his squad back to the grandest stage amid a roller coaster ride that defined a legendary tenure.

“We have a relationship that is really special to me,” Collins said of Buie. “What he’s meant to the program, it does make me emotional. I want to keep playing as long as we can because it’s going to feel really weird for me to coach a game without him out there. For five years, I’ve been penciling him in the lineup.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jakeepste1n 

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