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Northwestern 2016-17 Preview: The Wings

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

In the weeks leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing its preview series breaking down each Big Ten team. These will come in a set of series previewing the overall team, the team’s backcourt, wings, and big men, and the team’s schedule. Each post will take a look at its top in-depth and give predictions on the upcoming season.

Today’s edition of the ‘BTPowerhouse Preview Series’ will focus on the wings for Northwestern. With Vic Law’s return, and depth on the roster, there will be a competition for the starting spot at guards.

BTPowerhouse Preview - Northwestern Wings:

  • 2015-16 All-Big Ten Qualifiers: None
  • Key Departures: none
  • Additions: Rapolas Ivanauskas (missing season due to injury)
  • Top Player: Vic Law

Last year Vic Law missed the season due to injury, but Aaron Falzon stepped up and did a great job filling his role as a freshman. Although Rapolas Ivanauskas is out for the season due to injury, there is plenty of depth at the the forward position for Coach Collins to work with.

Starting Rotation

Like the starting rotation for the backcourt, the starting rotation for the wings is up in the air. Collins may move away from the traditional 1-5 starters and opt to start three wing players. Vic Law is a clear starter but the other wing spot is up for grabs. Because Falzon played so well last season, it’s almost impossible to think that Collins will bench him in favor of Sanjay Lumpkin. So, there may be three forwards starting this season: Sanjay Lumpkin, Vic Law, and Aaron Falzon.

Bench Rotation

Gavin Skelly is a junior forward that started to show a mid-range jump shot towards the end of last season. If he continues to develop this, he will become more of an offensive threat on the floor. Skelly is a gritty player. Last year he broke his nose against Minnesota and took a charge on Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig in the final seconds of their win. Skelly even came in to play center at times last year when Pardon, Van Zegren and Olah were in foul trouble.

Nate Taphorn is a senior forward that can shoot well from deep. He has come off the bench to play minutes in the past and he will continue to do this year. He struggles on the defensive end of the ball but if he improves this offseason, he may see more minutes off the bench.

Aaron Falzon and Sanjay Lumpkin are the other two players and will vie for a starting spot. While Collins may start two true forwards, it’s also possible to that he will only start two. Aaron Falzon and Sanjay are viable options off the bench however the games go.


Northwestern has a lot of depth at the forward this year and plenty of ways to play around with the depth. Gavin Skelly is an upperclassmen and a viable option off the bench.

But the story here is who is going to sit (if someone sits) between Aaron Falzon, Sanjay Lumpkin and Vic Law. Like I said, it’s hard to imagine Collins benching Falzon after the freshman campaign he had. Would he have had that big of a year had Law been healthy? He probably wouldn’t have started as much. But he proved himself. He showed he can start. So do you bench Lumpkin then? Lumpkin is primarily a defender and doesn’t contribute much on the offensive side of the ball.

Law will be starting somewhere in the lineup, so it may just come down to who has the most chemistry with him and McIntosh on the floor.

The wings are exciting positions for the Wildcats this year. It will be fun to see what they can do.