Northwestern Women’s basketball 2020-21 season preview
By Ally Navarrete
Big Ten basketball is back. And so are everyone’s favorite Big Ten Champions.
Northwestern women’s basketball will return to the court Thursday, Dec. 10, against Eastern Illinois. The Wildcats will open Big Ten play against Minnesota just a few days later, on Dec. 14.
At the end of last season, the ‘Cats tied with Maryland to take home the Big Ten trophy after finishing with a 26–4 overall record. But after a tough loss to Michigan in the first round of the Big Ten tournament and missing out on the NCAA tournament due to the pandemic, the ‘Cats have some unfinished business to take care of in 2020-21.
Going into this season, the ‘Cats currently stand at No. 15 in the AP Top 25. Here are a few things to look forward to as the 2020-21 season kicks off Dec. 10.
She’s the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year.
And if last season is any indication, she’ll live up to the title. Leading the team in scoring with an average of 18.8 points per game, Pulliam will be an offensive powerhouse for the ‘Cats again this season. If she can improve her shooting percentage from 36.8% last season to somewhere in the mid-40s, she’ll be an even greater threat. Along with Veronica Burton, who was also named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team, Pulliam has the potential to lead the ‘Cats to Big Ten prominence in her senior season.
This season, the ‘Cats have added three first-years to the roster: espnW No. 46 recruit Anna Morris, Jasmine McWilliams and Paige Mott. Morris averaged 14 points a game in high school, and Coach Joe McKewon has deemed her shooting talent similar to Abi Scheid. When Morris is on the court, look to see if she can provide the ‘Cats with some new talent from beyond the arc.
McWilliams also averaged 14 points in high school, and McKewon noted her ability to play multiple positions. Meanwhile, Mott posted 10 rebounds per game in high school, adding some defensive power to the lineup. Out of the three, we’ll likely see Morris on the court the most, but overall, these three first-years are exciting additions to the program.
Which returning players will step up?
With Abi Scheid and Abbie Wolf’s departure, the ‘Cats undoubtedly have to adjust and adapt to recreate the magic of last season. As I mentioned, they’ll still have Pulliam and Burton to lead, but the team also has outstanding depth in talented players like Sydney Wood, Jordan Hamilton and Courtney Shaw.
Wood’s impressive defense and offensive driving ability can be a huge boost for the ‘Cats starting line-up. Hamilton will also likely provide more offensive power, and Shaw, who should find herself playing more this season, has great potential to improve, especially in her rebounding abilities.
Another player to look out for will be Lauryn Satterwhite. After battling an injury in the last two seasons, the redshirt junior could emerge as a strong asset for the ‘Cats.
Though there is the potential of scheduling changes due to the pandemic, as of now, the ‘Cats are looking to face some stiff Big Ten competition, particularly from teams like Indiana, Maryland and Michigan. But with Pulliam and Burton at the helm, and the ability of other players to step up, I think the ‘Cats will find themselves near the top of the Big Ten rankings again this season. The Big Ten title may be hard to repeat — but I’m not counting them out entirely.