Earlier this week, we asked who Northwestern would use to replace Drew Crawford, and the answer from us — and Chris Collins — was really "everyone." That's a fine answer for a coach to give, as it's certainly going to be on the entire team to step up and replace Crawford's production, but when you change the question a bit and ask who is going to score the points, that question becomes a bit shakier.
The actual wording of this question in our "15 questions" countdown is whether Northwestern has too many players of equal skill level, and I think that's half of the issue. Is there really someone who can rise above the rest and be the go-to player when the game is on the line? But for NU, the question has to be a bit more narrow: Do the Wildcats have someone who can step up as a scorer?
The reason I'm hedging a bit is because I do think that in Vic Law, Northwestern has someone above the rest of the team. He was a star in high school, and reports from the open scrimmage say that he lives up to the billing. He's an athletic player who can disrupt an offense, and he can present a match-up problem for both guards and forwards due to his combination of height and quickness. The Wildcats haven't had someone like that before.
As the face of the program — and Collins is already considering him Duke's Johnny Dawkins, so it's fair to say that's the expectation — people are going to expect Law to be a scorer. The problem is, Collins doesn't expect him to be a top-notch scorer, at least not right away.
"Vic is an elite athlete," Collins said. "One of the best things Law does is get a defensive rebound and lead the break."
Law can guard the 1-4 positions and could be All-Big Ten defensive team sooner rather than later. Collins also called Drew Crawford more of a scorer, while Law is an all-around player. He said Law isn't a go-to scorer. However, he'll play a "key role" right away.
This is the first of many reminders I'll give you that Law is not a bust if he's not leading the team in scoring. But if he's not going to be a go-to scorer type, then who is? Tre Demps needs to improve his efficiency to be in the conversation as an "above the rest" kind of guy, and while Alex Olah was underutilized last year, he's not someone who's going to step up and drop 20-25 points in any given game. JerShon Cobb might be the best option, but like Demps, he hasn't shown it yet.
What this team needs is a John Shurna (or a Drew Crawford). Right now, it seems to be the equivalent of (or maybe a bit last talented than) last year's Iowa team without Devyn Marble or last year's Nebraska team without Terran Pettaway. It's going to need someone like that to step up in order to be competitive in the Big Ten.
Who can do that? Can JerShon Cobb? Can Bryant McIntosh? Can Sanjay Lumpkin? Can Tre Demps? Can Vic Law? Perhaps the biggest issue heading into this season is there isn't one candidate who sticks out as "the guy."