BLIZZARD TRACK UNCERTAIN
is Northwestern’s (9-3) beating heart. The senior point guard and reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year leads the team in nearly every game stat category: points (17.6), minutes (35.1), assists (5.9) and steals (3.7) to name four. Burton is second in rebounding and blocks and isn’t bad at connecting on threes knocking them down at a .358 clip. For good measure, Burton has three double doubles this season. Only Joe Mckeown
, who inked a four-year extension before the season, is a more reliable presence in Evanston-and that’s debatable.
Currently, the Wildcat’s are under a covid pause and there’s been no indication of whether the Northwestern/Minnesota game will occur on New Year’s Eve. In addition to covid, the Wildcat’s lineup has been beset by injuries and illness. While Burton, 6’3” freshman Caileigh Walsh
and 6’1” senior Courtney Shaw
have started every game, the other two starting positions have been shared by five players. Jillian Brown
has 9 starts, Mel Daley
4, Lauryn Satterwhite
4, Sydney Wood
3 and Jasmine McWilliams
The great unknown is whether veteran Sydney Wood
, a Big Ten All-Defensive Team member last season, will see the Williams Arena court. She was injured in the season’s fourth game and has yet to return. There was a note that she would be available versus Oregon; but, of course, that game was canceled. Without Wood, the ‘Cats are missing three of last season’s leading scorers: Lindsey Pulliam graduated
, and Jordan Hamilton
decided to take her plus one year at Stanford.
Other than Wood, the players who missed games have returned. Those include 6’3” forward Anna Morris
from whom much was expected and little returned. Morris has only played 18 minutes in 5 games. And graduate guard Lauryn Satterwhite
is back after an ankle injury and is averaging 5.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 17.8 minutes/game.
Like the Gophers, Northwestern tends to struggle out of the gate. Finishing inside has been a particular problem. And the lineup changes, especially Wood’s absence, seemed to have curtailed deployment of McKeown’s “blizzard” defense. The ‘Cats will still double when given the opportunity; but they have yet to issue a full “blizzard” warning.
Unfortunately, for the Gophers, the ‘Cats are not buried in a drift. Freshmen are helping to find a way forward. Joining Veronica Burton
in the starting lineup are:
the 6’3” freshman forward has slipped right into the starting lineup by averaging 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 25.6 minutes of play. She’s a Joe Mckeown type big; she’ll mix it up inside and step out for a three (15-48).
: the 5’11” freshman guard is averaging 7 points and 2 rebounds in 18.4 minutes of play. Daley had 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals in the loss to Texas A&M.
: the 6’0” senior forward had a strong game against the Gophers last season with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. This season she’s averaging 10 points and 9.9 rebounds in 29.7 minutes of play. And she’s topped Burton with five double doubles in 12 games. Shaw is a force inside and capable of guarding outside.
: is another freshman who has stepped into the starting lineup with 9 starts. The 5’10” guard is averaging 7.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 27.8 minutes/game. Brown is 14-45 from three.
Off the bench:
There are a couple of bench players of note; although McKeown has sort of stirred and mixed the reserves during the non-conference season. And of course, if Sydney Wood
returns to the line-up, then the Wildcats of this season will begin to resemble the Wildcats of last season.
is averaging 6.4 points and 3.6 rebounds in 16.8 minutes/game. She’s also 6-12 from three.
is averaging 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 18.9 minutes/game. As a power post player, the sophomore will likely see minutes versus the Gophers.
Last season, the Wildcats finished 11-7 in the B1G and made it to the Big Dance where they defeated Central Florida 62-51 before falling to Louisville 53-62. Northwestern had kicked off the Big Ten Season by rolling the Gophers in Evanston 80-51. A 17-0 1st quarter scoring run gave the Wildcats a comfort zone they never relinquished. Veronica Burton
led all scorers with 20 points while dishing 10 assists. Sydney Wood
dropped 19 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Lindsey Pulliam
scored 13 and Jordan Hamilton
contributed 6 points and 8 assists.
The starters for Minnesota were Powell
with 15 points, Sissoko
6 and Sconiers
(remember her?) 1. Northwestern’s game recap had a concise summation:
… the blizzard defense shut Minnesota's offense down, holding the Golden Gophers to 32% shooting from the floor with 41 missed shots and 21 turnovers.
Will it be snow squalls or a full on blizzard? Stay tuned to your local forecast.
NORTHWESTERN RECORD (9-3):
UIC 70-58, UCSB 72-46, Loyola 63-47, (N) South Dakota 73-57, @ Clemson 72-61, Wisconsin 61-49, Delaware 76-53, Milwaukee 55-46 and Temple 68-58
@ DePaul 75-78, (N) Pitt 60-72 and (N) Texas A&M 68-78
Veronica Burton Last Six Games:
Cailiegh Walsh Last Six Games: