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Law, Collins not bothered by freshman's underwhelming start

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON -- Vic Law hasn't had the greatest start to his freshman season at Northwestern. But just being in the presence of the rangy, 6-foot-7 forward, you wouldn't know it.

We here at InsideNU haven't exactly been critical of Law. But we, along with fans and other beat writers, have certainly expressed our concerns. He hasn't seemed comfortable on offense, and maybe his athleticism, when it comes to lateral quickness, wasn't what it was built up to be. I even predicted he'd finish eighth on the team in scoring during conference play.

But it's clear that Law doesn't share those concerns. He's come to grips with the idea that he's entered into a process.

"[I'm learning] what it takes to be good every single day," Law said Friday before he took the court for practice. "The biggest thing I've learned is the preparation it takes day in and day out to be able to play in the Big Ten, and play at a consistent level."

At times this season, Law has appeared to get flustered on the court when things don't go his way. But he says that too is all part of his education as a player. When asked about the noticeable frustration, he said resignedly, "yeah, that's easy for a young player when you're missing shots, you get frustrated with yourself. But it's a learning experience."

Maybe Law is making a point to keep things positive, or maybe it's just who he is. But whether he is greeting the media with a wide smile or playing pickup basketball with Scottie Lindsey and other students on campus, he is clearly still enjoying himself, and he is unperturbed by the slow start to his career.

The question though is whether long-term expectations have been toned down. Law has given some reason to believe so far that he'll never be the player he was hyped up to be. But Chris Collins isn't having any of that.

"Eventually, we feel he's going to be a really good player," Collins said, almost manufacturing surprise that somebody would think otherwise. "Eventually, he's going to be a guy who's going to get to his spot and raise up. He's got great extension on his shot. I think he's going to be a competent open three-point shooter. I think he's going to be a guy with strength that we're going to be able to post, like we did Drew last year. A 6-[foot]-7 small forward that can slide down there and go into the block. I think he's going to be a tremendous player."

Both Law and Collins believe one of the reasons for his early struggles is the physicality of college basketball. Law admits to being surprised by it early on.

"Each day your body goes through a battle, a war," he said. "That's something I wasn't used to in high school, and something I'm getting used to now."

Collins also believes critics are underestimating how big a role Law's underdeveloped body has played, and he maintains that will come with time.

"The strength and conditioning component at our level has become huge," Collins said assuredly. "There's countless examples. Look at what [Michigan guard] Caris LeVert did from his freshman to sophomore year. All of a sudden he [goes from] a 2-point-a-game player to an all-league guy. Look at Sanjay [Lumpkin] and [Nate] Taphorn, they were freshmen last year. Their bodies are markedly different. That's what's going to happen with our young kids."

"You just watch little things," Collins continued, "like trying to carve out space, getting knocked a little bit on a cut; when you catch it on the wing, stronger guys getting into your body, getting you off balance. That little bit can be what throws you off from making a good move to missing a shot."

For now, Collins wants Law to be an energy guy. He's not ready to be the "tremendous player" Collins projects him to be.

"I'd like to see him get out and run a little bit, I'd like to see him get on the offensive boards, I'd like to see him get some opportunistic points," he said of his prized recruit.

But it's clear that down the road, both Collins and Law are still expecting much more.