WNUR Sports Online Content Director Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger) explains why Northwestern fans have reason to be happy and hopeful.
Normally, this is a basketball column. However, the Northwestern men’s team has lost five in a row and the women have lost six in a row. The last time either team won was February 1st, when the men’s team beat Minnesota. In other words, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are a combined 1-11 in the month of February. Yikes. Still, there are reasons to be optimistic if you’re a ‘Cats fan.
1. Northwestern women’s lacrosse
The ‘Cats are 3-0 and ranked no. 4 in the country. With close wins against no. 8 Virginia and no. 5 Duke already under their belts, the Wildcats thrashed Marquette 20-5 yesterday at Lake Barrington Field House. 15 different Northwestern players scored and the win was Northwestern’s largest margin of victory since 2010. The team lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, but there’s a reason Northwestern has won seven national championships in the past decade.
2. Northwestern baseball
Okay, maybe not everyone gets this excited for baseball, but we sure do at WNUR Sports. The team is off to a 3-5 start, but three of those losses came to powerhouse USC, and two of those games went to extra innings. The team could snag a spot in the Big Ten tournament, which expands to 8 teams this year. Plus, a bunch of Northwestern baseball games will be broadcast on WNUR Sports, both over the air and on our UStream channel. Stay tuned for more updates regarding our broadcast schedule.
3. Northwestern softball
On the softball diamond, Northwestern is off to a hot start. The ‘Cats are 10-4 and already have wins over no. 18 South Alabama and no. 3 Washington. Like baseball, the team doesn’t play a home game until late March. One key home series will be against the Nebraska Cornhuskers from March 28 through March 30. The Cornhuskers are a perennial power, but Northwestern plays very well at home. Also, writing about Nebraska justified my use of that GIF. Again, check our website in the coming weeks for our spring broadcast schedule.
4. Chris Collins’s recruiting skills
Vic Law. Bryant McIntosh. Johnnie Vassar. Gavin Skelly. Scott Lindsey. Some of these guys might not be household names for Northwestern fans yet, but they will be next fall. The class is widely considered the best in Northwestern history, and with good reason. ESPN ranks it the no. 23 recruiting class in the nation, ahead of powers Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Villanova, and just one spot behind Syracuse. It might seem crazy to look ahead to next season before this one’s even over, but the long-term future for NU hoops looks really bright.
5. Nia Coffey
Replace the plate of food in front of Emma Stone with Nia Coffey’s stats, and the reaction is the same. Coffey leads Northwestern in points and rebounds. She’s the only freshman to rank in the top ten in the conference in both of those measures. She’s also in the top 15 in the conference in blocks, field goal percentage and steals. Did I mention she’s a freshman? And speaking of a bright future, fellow freshman Ashley Deary ranks in the top three in the Big Ten in steals and assists. Combine them with last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Maggie Lyon, and Northwestern has three elite players for the next two seasons after this one.
6. It’s Not Over Yet
Sure, this month has been bad. But it turns out the season isn’t over until a team is eliminated from the conference tournament or loses in a postseason tournament game. Furthermore, the team that wins the Big Ten Tournament automatically goes to the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Yes, the odds of Northwestern’s men’s or women’s team winning the Big Ten are pretty small, there’s a reason the games aren’t played on paper. At the risk of sounding too optimistic, don’t give up yet.
7. The Big Ten Basketball Tournament
It’s understandable if, as a Northwestern fan, you want to stop watching the Big Ten Tournament after the ‘Cats are eliminated. On the other hand, both the men’s and women’s tournaments are basically a four-day bonanza of some of the best men’s and women’s college basketball out there. On the men’s side, there is a good chance of catching at least one future NBA player in every game. Plus, there are the bubble teams whose tournament aspirations come down to one or two games in Indianapolis. It’s great theatre, and it should make any basketball fan drool.
8. Alyssa Leonard and lacrosse again
Senior attacker Alyssa Leonard had a pretty good season last year. She set Northwestern school records for draw controls in a single season (125) and career (306), and she’s back this season to chase the NCAA record. Leonard’s nine draw controls on Tuesday gave her 338 for her career, good enough for 2nd on the NCAA career draw control list. Quite simply, she’s the best at what she does. She was also second on the team in goals last year with 37 and has 5 already this year. Stay tuned to WNUR Sports all season as she goes for the number one spot on the all-time draw controls list. We’ll have a ton of coverage of Northwestern lacrosse this year, including road games at Penn and Penn State, pretty much every remaining home game, and the team’s April 26 matchup with USC at Wrigley Field. Plus, Northwestern will host the ALC Tournament at Lakeside Field, plus potential NCAA Tournament games. WNUR Sports is your home for Northwestern lacrosse and their quest for national title number eight.
So cheer up, Northwestern fans. Cats make everything better.