Comprehensive Northwestern Basketball Season Preview

Comprehensive Northwestern Basketball Season Preview

The Northwestern Wildcats have the dancing ability of Elaine from Seinfeld.  The main difference between the two; at least Elaine has actually danced before.  Northwestern has still never played in the NCAA Tournament although they have flirted with being a bubble team the past three seasons.  That should once again be the case in 2011-2012.

NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS
Last Season: T-7th, 7-11 in B10, 20-14 overall
Predicted Finish: 7th

Projected Depth Chart
C: Luka Mirkovic (Sr)/Davide Curletti (Sr)
F: John Shurna (Sr)/Mike Turner (Fr)
G/F: Drew Crawford (Jr)
SG: JerShon Cobb (So)/Reggie Hearn (Jr)/Nick Fruendt (Jr)
PG: Alex Marcotullio (Jr)/Tre Demps (Fr)/David Sobolewski (Fr)

Gone: PG-Juice Thompson, G/F-Mike Capocci, G/F-Jeff Ryan, F-Ivan Peljusic

John Shurna Northwestern

2011-2012 Outlook:
After testing the NBA Draft waters this summer, John Shurna made the right decision to return to Evanston for his senior season.  Shurna has been the Wildcats leading scorer the past two years and lit it up from deep last season, connecting on 43.4% of his triple tries.  He will need to up his scoring even more this season since Northwestern loses second leading scorer, Juice Thompson.

6-11 Luka Mirkovic will retain his spot as the starting center and is the only true big man on the roster.  Despite his size, he is not much of a force in the paint but can step out and knock down jump shots.  There is not a whole lot of depth up-front behind Shurna and Mirkovic.  David Curletti was a key reserve last season and can stretch defenses with his outside shooting.  Freshman Mike Turner will try to work his way into the rotation.

Former Big Ten Freshman of the Year and starting small forward Drew Crawford is looking to improve upon a year in which he struggled shooting the ball.  He will have to up his game to help replace Thompson’s offensive production.  JerShon Cobb returns at shooting guard and brings athleticism and versatility to the floor.  Seldom used juniors Reggie Hearn and Nick Fruendt are the only other options on the wing.

Thompson was one of the more underrated points guards in the country and replacing him will fall on the shoulders of Alex Marcotullio.  How he transitions into the starting role will be one of the key factors to Northwestern’s success this season.  Freshmen Tre Demps and David Sobolewski will compete to be the back-up point guard.

Bill Carmody has built Northwestern into a mediocre basketball program.  Four of their five starters are back which is a positive but there is a lack of experience on the bench.  Still, there is a chance that this could be the season the ‘Cats can get over the hump and earn their first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Player to Watch: Drew Crawford
The only way Northwestern will even sniff an at-large berth is if Crawford emerges as a legit number two scorer.  Carmody knows what he is going to get from Shurna and Crawford is the most capable of becoming the second banana.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 vs. LSU (Charleston Classic)
11/18 vs. Tulsa/Western Kentucky (Charleston Classic)
11/20 vs. VCU/Seton Hall/Georgia Tech/St. Joseph’s (Charleston Classic)
11/29 at Georgia Tech (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/4 vs. Baylor
12/22 at Creighton

OTHER 111 IN 111′S:
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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