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What We Learned: Northwestern’s Exhibition Game

The Wildcats played in an exhibition game on Friday night. Here’s what we learned.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

With the season on the heels of starting, Northwestern played an exhibition game against The University of Illinois-Springfield last Friday. The Wildcats had quite a few questions heading in to the season and this game helped answer some of those. Here’s what we learned:

Isiah Brown Can Shoot

Although many are worried about Brown being undersized as a guard, the freshman put on a show in his first conference game. He shot 7-11 from the floor, 2-3 from three and hit both shots at the free throw line in 23 minutes of play. He has great chemistry with Bryant McIntosh. He also showed he can lead the floor when McIntosh is on the bench. Brown will most likely come off the bench to score and bring energy to the floor.

Scottie Lindsey Earned the Start

There were a lot of questions about the lineup heading in to the season. Scottie Lindsey earned the start alongside Bryant McIntosh and Sanjay stayed on the wing with Vic Law. This may change throughout the season but heading in to non conference play, it looks like this is the lineup we will see.

The starting “eight”

Collins mentioned multiple times during his preseason press conferences that there were really a starting eight this year. He meant Bryant McIntosh, Sanjay Lumpkin, Aaron Falzon, Vic Law, Gavin Skelly, Scottie Lindsey, Dererk Pardon. He will treat them all like starters even though they are not. Aaron Falzon was thrust in to a starting role last year with the injury to Vic Law. Although he may come off the bench, he will most likely see starters minutes.

Vic Law is back

Although he was cold shooting to start the game, his defense was strong. His final stats were 4-11 from the floor, 2-6 from three, and 1-2 from the line. In the second half, he had a bucket in transition that he ran all the way down the floor for a dunk. This is the shot that got him back in the game. He made his final two shots of the game following the layup he made.

The “small ball” lineup

Gavin Skelly played some minutes at the five when Collins was experimenting with different lineups. He’s great at cleaning up at the rim and showed he can handle the minutes if need be, but he’s better on the wing.

The Center Position is Young

As we expected to see, the center position is young. Pardon had a thigh-to-the-knee injury mid- game and Benson was definitely getting his jitters out in the first game. He went 1-3 from the floor, collected 2 offensive rebounds and 1 defensive rebound in 15 minutes of play. As he begins to see more time in non-conference play, Benson will be a key factor in the game. He showed spouts of what he is capable of doing in the final minutes of the game but his scoring will be a necessity this season.

McIntosh and Brown have the Big Brother, Little Brother relationship down

It was easy to tell from the moment Brown stepped on the floor with McIntosh that McIntosh has had an impact on Brown in the short amount of time they’ve known each other. There was one moment when they were both walking towards one side of the court for someone to shoot free throws. McIntosh put his arm around Brown and was talking to him as they walked together. Collins reiterated how close they have become in the post game press conference.

Northwestern is playing man-to-man defense

Collins said his eventual goal was to play man-to-man defense. They came out playing it in their exhibition game and it appears as though Collins will try to stick with it. For the most part, it seemed effective. There was some switching with players but it will be interesting to see how this develops as the season goes on.

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This exhibition game gave us a glimpse of what Northwestern will look like heading in to the season. While scoring is still in question, it looks like Collins has some options to fill the shoes of Tre Demps and Alex Olah. Northwestern opens up their non-conference play this Friday at home against Mississippi Valley State.