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Northwestern is Finding a New Rhythm with a New Team in the New Welsh-Ryan Arena

Against Georgia Tech, the Wildcats showed positive changes on both ends of the court.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Penn State vs Northwestern Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS— Northwestern’s ACC/ Big Ten Challenge revenge game took place in Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday night. Although there is still work to do, it is evident that Northwestern made progress. While there are still some things they’ll have to work on before Big Ten play kicks in to gear, there are signs of life in this team.

Here’s a list of things to be excited about:

-Vic Law is becoming the all-around player Northwestern has dreamed of

Without Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey with him on the court, Law has taken over some back court duties this season, and it has improved his play on the offensive side of the ball tremendously. He came in to the Georgia Tech game averaging a team high 18.5 points per game. He scored 14 against Georgia Tech, while also grabbing 9 boards and dishing out four assists.

Law’s offensive spark and ability to score from anywhere on the court will help Northwestern’s offense and allow for other players to score because of the way he now needs to be defended.

Law’s defense has always been sound, and now with the way he’s playing offense, he’s making himself an early candidate to earn All Big Ten honors at the end of the season.

-Ryan Taylor is the offensive shooter the Wildcats needed

He entered the Georgia Tech game averaging 13 points per game. He went off against the Yellow Jackets, scoring 20 points against them. His ability to pull up and shoot is coming in handy for Northwestern. He has the ability to make plays and create shots for himself.

Northwestern will need his scoring, especially with Big Ten play approaching. His scoring, along with Law, and the way that Dererk Pardon continues to play in the post make Northwestern hard to guard. It will be interesting to see how teams defend them when all three of them are shooting well, as they are now.

-Dererk Pardon continues to dominate the post

There’s nothing quite like a Pardon dunk, put back or layup to ignite the Northwestern offense. Pardon is scoring at all the right times and he even shot his first three (!) while playing in the Wooden Legacy Tournament in California. Pardon had another double-double against Georgia Tech, and he’s shooting 63% in his career. His veteran presence on the court is guiding Northwestern and the offense along. With no true point guard, Northwestern can play through the post and Pardon is the reason for that.

-The defense is creating problems for opponents

Chris Collins said early on that this team has length and athleticism on defense that can cause problems for opponents, and he hit the nail on the head. Northwestern swarmed Georgia Tech and did a great job at taking away open shots, especially in the first half.

Although Northwestern is turning the ball over, they are forcing their opponents to turn the ball over, which is creating great opportunities for them in transition.

***

Without a doubt, there is a lot this team needs to work on. The turnovers, offensive ball handling and cross court passing leaves room for improvement. But the shooting and the chemistry with all the newcomers is visible. This team could easily become a middle of the pack Big Ten team.

Northwestern is settling in, and the once jittery offense has quieted down. Don’t count out this team yet. They’re only just beginning to pound the rock on this season.