There’s a new identity for the Wildcats this season. The 2016-17 men’s basketball team, immortalized among the Northwestern faithful for making March Madness, is slowly breaking apart. Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey are gone. Vic Law and Dererk Pardon are seniors. High hopes from last season were dashed as the team underperformed, and - though the team will tell you otherwise - expectations for 2018-2019 are significantly lower.
Still, there is reason to be optimistic for the future of this program. The four first-years (Pete Nance, Miller Kopp, Ryan Greer, and Ryan Young) come lauded as the best recruiting class in school history. If the new Welsh-Ryan doesn’t already entice you into becoming a frequent presence at basketball games, then perhaps the notion of watching this freshmen class develop before your eyes will. Here’s what the players had to say about the team, their expectations, lessons they’ve learned, and more:
Note: Center Ryan Young has been designated as a redshirt this season, so we won’t get to see him on the court until next year.__
Pete Nance / 4-Star Forward / Revere (Richfield, OH)
On if there are pressures on himself coming from a sports-famous family: “Not really, no, I think everybody on the team is equal and that really I try to put my past behind me and kinda [have a] fresh start. So I don’t think there’s any pressure regarding that.”
On team adjustments to new offense: “I think it’s been going well. I think we have a pretty unique set and some stuff that we’re doing this year, and I think we have the right team to run that stuff and I think we’re gonna be pretty good with it.”
On what he’s learned from the upperclassmen players: “The guys have been super nice, they’ve told me and the freshman the same thing, ‘take a deep breath’ and ‘I know things can seem like a lot at times, but you guys are doing great,’ and they’ve had a lot of confidence in us from day one, and that’s helped us a lot.”
Miller Kopp / 4-Star Forward / Houston Christian (Houston, TX)
On choosing Northwestern over programs such as Michigan and Vanderbilt: “Yeah, it was just the family atmosphere. When I came here on my visit, I had a great relationship with Coach Collins, and I just got together with the guys and it was just a great atmosphere, and it felt like I was a part of what was here already. The other schools were great, but I just didn’t get that feeling. Also Northwestern was the first big-time school to offer me, and that really stuck with me that they believed in me first, and Coach Collins believed in me first.
On his expectations for the team: “I think we’re gonna be really good. A lot of people are underestimating us, but we worked all summer, and the guys in the spring, and in the fall, and I think we’ve gotten a lot better. So I think people are really underestimating us, but I think we’re gonna prove a lot of people wrong.”
On what he wants the fans to know about him: “I’m a team player and I love to win. That’s all I want to bring to this program, and to the team this year, and to the school, really. I’m a high-energy guy and I just want to bring a lot of energy and a winning vibe, and that’s all really what I’m about.”
Ryan Greer / 3-Star Guard / Northfield Mount Hermon (Northfield, MA)
On coming over to Northwestern from his junior year of HS after former recruit Jordan Lathon’s admission was revoked: “When they mentioned it to me, it was something that I definitely had to think about. But once I thought it over, it was something I couldn’t pass up, and making that decision was probably one of the best feelings of my life. Started my dream here early.”
On how he is adjusting from high school to college ball: “I would say the speed of the game, adjusting to that, but just taking every challenge as it comes and not backing down, but just accepting every challenge because I know it’s part of the process, and just going along with it and [taking] every day day-by-day.”
On lessons he’s received: “Kinda something that the upperclassmen have told me is that you just gotta take it day-by-day, and that there’s gonna be good days, there’s gonna be bad days, but you’ve gotta take them for what they are, and you’ve gotta learn from the bad days, and just keep moving forward and just enjoy the process.”
Ryan Young / 3-Star Center / Bethlehem Catholic (Bethlehem, PA)
On what he’s learned so far as a student-athlete: “Definitely time-management is the first thing for any student-athlete. I think that’s the first thing that comes out, and you’re gonna learn quickly, whether you want to or don’t want to, you’re gonna learn right away. Time-management, and then just respecting everybody. You learn to meet a lot of new people that can help you, that are here to help you: coaches, teammates, faculty members, anywhere, always on your side. [Those are] definitely the two things I learned pretty quickly here.”
On how he wants to develop: “I definitely just want to get bigger and stronger. The weight room is certainly the first thing. One of the things I want to try and focus on is lateral quickness as a big man. You can see it in Dereck [Pardon] a lot, he can guard multiple positions in the post and on the perimeter. Adding that element to my game with lateral quickness on the defensive side will really help me a lot, and then just becoming a better shooter.
On the new Welsh-Ryan Arena: “It’s unbelievable. I was one of the ones who never saw the last [arena], but it’s stunning. Everything’s brand new, as good as it can be as anywhere in the country, so [I’m] excited to play in it.”__
The four freshmen will help add a new vibe to a team that hopes to rebound from last season and build a promising future. If you can brave the weather and hop on the bus to Welsh-Ryan, you’ll find a young group that might very well feature the next McIntoshs, Skellys, and Lindseys in Northwestern lore.