The 2016-2017 season is a crucial one for the Northwestern Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins. Collins enters his fourth year, and the general consensus is that his program has to show significant signs of progress in order to reach the ultimate goal of making the NCAA tournament by the target year of 2018, when his first recruiting class will all be seniors. Collins has high expectations of a talented bunch of players, and they’ll need to show his expectations are not unfounded. With that, we run through every player on the roster this season. Let’s take a look at an athletic junior with a chip on his shoulder: shooting guard Scottie Lindsey.
Who he is:
Junior | Shooting Guard | 6-foot-5 | 210 pounds | Hillside, Ill.
The numbers (2015-16 season):
Both Lindsey’s field goal and three-point percentages improved noticeably between his freshman and sophomore seasons. His shot chart indicates that he’s especially deadly from beyond the arc on the left side of the court. Overall, he picks his spots pretty well from three and other than some weak shooting at the top of the arc (in many less attempts), he’s a pretty efficient three-point shooter.
He doesn’t take many mid-range jumpers at all — and isn’t too effective with those he takes — but is pretty bad at the rim, like his backcourt counterpart Bryant McIntosh. Only converting 56 percent in-the-paint just isn’t good enough. Lindsey’s low percentage stems from a reluctance to drive unless it’s for a fastbreak dunk or layup that is uncontested.
With Scottie Lindsey, the talent and athleticism has always been there, but the consistency hasn’t. In his freshman year, all of his double-digit scoring performances were followed by games of five or fewer points. Last season, he reached 10 or more points in back-to-back games on just two occasions. For him, the challenge is building on big games instead of falling back into spells of poor shooting that coincide with him disappearing from the game.
From time to time, though, he flashes the potential that makes you think he can be a real game-changer for this team. His performances against New Orleans and Illinois showed that much. But for him to get on the same level as McIntosh or Vic Law, those flashes have to become the norm, not the exception.
Lindsey’s ability to stretch the floor is much needed for a Northwestern team that has to replace the offense vacated by the graduated Alex Olah and Tre Demps. For all his faults, Demps being a threat from beyond the arc opened things up in the middle of the court for the Wildcats. While he isn’t the scorer Demps was, Lindsey brings fairly accurate long-range shooting to the table which will make defenses respect him on the perimeter. When they do, he’ll have his chances to drive to the hoop more aggressively than he did in his first two seasons.
He has all the physical skills to be a good Big Ten player, but Lindsey sometimes lacks aggressiveness — especially on offense — which often results in him playing long stretches of time without making any sort of noticeable play. One day, he could pour in four three-pointers in 15 minutes of play and, another, he might play 20 minutes and not look to touch the ball much on offense. He needs to gain more confidence both in his shot — which is a very good one — and his ballhandling skills, because if he can get to the paint, he has the vertical to make plays at the rim.
I’ve been a big believer in Scottie Lindsey since his freshman year, but he has yet to truly perform up to the lofty expectations many have foisted upon him. He can be a really explosive player — we see that from him every now and then, especially on the fastbreak — but for him to serve the role envisioned for him, Lindsey has to go from being a 15-20 minute bench guy to a reliable, 25+ minute player who provides consistent scoring and solid on-ball wing defense. Call me irrationally optimistic, but I think he can be that, and Northwestern’s coaching staff — with such a young team — needs that as well.