Northwestern Wildcats basketball: Michael Turner taking leave of absence from team

USA TODAY Sports

NU loses its backup big man, Michael Turner, as he takes a break from hoops. Chris Collins will have some interesting options without the much-maligned sophomore.

A little bit of a bummer from the Northwestern basketball side of things, where Chris Collins generally had us feeling gleeful: Michael Turner will be taking a leave of absence from the Northwestern basketball team to deal with personal issues.

It's not clear when he'll be back, if at all this season, and he's no longer listed on the team's roster. Teddy Greenstein writes it's not exactly clear if he'll ever be back after "failing to mesh" with Collins' coaching staff.

First and foremost, we hope Turner deals with whatever it is he needs to deal with. We've given him a hard time here, and it's important to remember these are kids.

From a basketball perspective, this doesn't concern me too much. While Turner had a scant few strong performances last year -- two-for-two shooting and eight assists against Ohio State! -- he generally seemed not ready for Big Ten play as a redshirt freshman after Bill Carmody decided he wasn't ready for Big Ten play as a true freshman. He had more personal fouls than any other statistic by a wide margin, often outmatched as a 6'8, 210-pound player asked to play center against legit seven-footers.

If anything, I think Turner's absence forces Northwestern into a good situation. NU will have solid talent at the 1-4 spots, but often played Turner more from a "hey, we should be playing a center now, right?" perspective even though he was outmatched defensively and put a hitch in NU's offense.

Now, the Wildcats have Alex Olah as a true center -- and one who often flashed great passing ability and presence around the rim when he wasn't hesitant -- and after him, there are a lot of players we don't know much about. There's the 7'2 Sudanese player, Chier Ajou, who only briefly saw court time before injuries caused him to take a redshirt. There's walk-on Aaron Liberman and his yarmulke. And there's TCU Nikola Cerina, who we believe kicked Bill Carmody's dog last year to earn permanent bench status even as NU desperately needed a big man. We'll see if Chris Collins opts to boost minutes for some of these non-Olah players, or whether he chooses to utilize smaller, more offensively talented lineups at the expense of some size.

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