The Northwestern women’s basketball team held an open practice at Beardsley Gymnasium on Sunday, as they allowed fans and the media to get a glimpse at the new-look 2017-18 team. Here are a few takeaways/thoughts about the new season.
- ETHS is going to be LOUD: As a high school facility, Beardsley gymnasium at ETHS is going to be the smallest venue in the Big Ten. However, with the more compact crowd, the building will most likely be full for the big games. As a result, the place is going to get loud, and could provide an exciting home atmosphere for the Wildcats. Every game should have the energy that is only matched by the annual “field-trip” day.
- The ‘Cats are going to slow things down. With the departure of Nia Coffey, the ‘Cats are going to shake up their offensive gameplan a bit this season. Abi Scheid, who played mostly at the 5 last season, is expected to spend more time at the 4, as Northwestern could run more two-big sets.
- Head coach Joe McKeown: “I think we’re going to be more of a half-court power team that can play inside-out. It’s an interesting transition from watching us fly up and down the court.”
- McKeown: “[The frontcourt] is going to need to score. I think they’re capable. They’re going to get more touches and more opportunities. I think they have the physical skills to be able to do that.”
- Three first-years were all actively involved in practice. Lindsey Pulliam from Maryland and Jordan Hamilton from Texas are both top-100 recruits, and McKeown is expecting them to factor into the backcourt rotation. Additionally, Brooke Pikiell from New Jersey was active on both ends of the floor. Lauryn Satterwhite from Arizona is not expected to play this season as she works her way back from an injury.
- Hamilton: “It’s been a gradual transition. The team is helping me get acclimated to the pace of the game. It’s not overbearing, but I feel like my teammates have really helped me. Our upperclassmen are giving us so much knowledge to get us up to speed.”
- Pulliam: “I see myself as a 2 or a 3. I’m always looking to score, I think I’m going to fit into the offensive flow well off the ball. So far it’s been everything I expected.”
- McKeown: “They’re probably going to be thrown into the fire at times. We’re gonna have to lean on them. They’re going to have to play like sophomores and juniors at times. All our players really have to play a year up this year. They’re fearless, and they’re a lot of fun.”
- Amber Jamison and Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah look much improved as they get ready for their junior seasons. Jamison came on strong in the 2nd half of last year, starting 11 games and shooting 42 percent from deep, and she will be looked to as a key scoring option this season. Kunaiyi-Akpanah has averaged 6.2 rebounds per game over her first two seasons, and should have a big role in the frontcourt rotation.
- McKeown: “[Jamison] is shooting the ball so consistently right now. She’s strong and physical, and I think her all-around game has really improved. She’s scoring, which I need her to do. She’s getting fouled, hitting threes, putting the ball on the floor–I think she’s stepping up, and you can see the confidence coming up.”
- McKeown: “[Kunaiyi-Akpanah] is going to break one of these rims at ETHS. She’s playing at the rim right now. She’s worked hard on her game. Her footwork is better. Her post game is better. She literally tries to get every single rebound. I’ve seen very few players have that mentality.”
- With five seniors gone, the ‘Cats are looking to Oceana Hamilton and Lydia Rohde–the only two seniors on the roster–to take on greater leadership responsibilities this year.
- McKeown: “[Rohde] is one of the best student-athletes at Northwestern. Everybody on our team looks up to her and respects her. She’s probably got the best work ethic. She was walk-on, and now as a senior she’s really earned everything. I think our players see that as a respect thing.”
The Wildcats will host Missouri-St. Louis for an exhibition game at ETHS on Sunday, Nov. 5. They will head to Chicago State on Nov. 10 for their first regular season game.