Gavin Skelly: A+
22 minutes, 19 points (9-12 FG, 1-2 3PT), 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 6 blocks, 4 fouls
It was a career night for Skelly in all senses of the term. The junior from Ohio posted personal bests in points, rebounds, and blocks, and could have had a real shot at the all-time school record for single-game rejections if it were not for a couple of questionable second half whistles going against him. It was the type of game that played to all of his strengths and did not allow for the exploitation of his weaknesses. Due to IUPUI’s lack of size, strength, athleticism, and scoring down low, Skelly was freed up to use his own athleticism and energy down low to attack shots defensively and attack the glass offensively. No, despite his sparkling stat line, it was not a night in which he showcased any new elements of his game, but he recognized that this was a game that he could dominate with his own unique skill-set, and deserves full credit for doing just that.
Sanjay Lumpkin: A+
34 minutes, 13 points (4-5 FG, 5-6 FT), 13 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 3 fouls
Another day, another ubiquitously flawless performance from the 5th-year senior. He was once again the best defensive player on the floor (Skelly included), he once again took only a half to haul in double-digit rebounds, and once again was a vital cog in keeping the Wildcats’ offensive machine humming with the perfectly efficient combination of guile and guts. With the turn of the year in sight, the case that Lumpkin has been Northwestern’s MVP so far this year is quite a strong one. Who in their right mind would have predicted that prior to the season?
Nathan Taphorn: A-
18 minutes, 12 points (3-7 FG, 2-6 3PT, 4-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 0 fouls
Saturday against Dayton, it was Tap’s ruthless and mechanical consistency in performing his role as a sharp shooter that earned him top marks. Tuesday night, he found himself toward the head of the class again, but for entirely alternate reasons. Despite shooting the ball at an uncharacteristically low 33 percent from behind the line, the senior forward showcased an ability to step outside his rigid role and contribute in other aspects of the game — something that he has been heavily criticized for not being able to do throughout his Northwestern career. He utilized the threat of his long range abilities to put the ball and the floor and blow by defenders to the basket, he crashed the offensive glass effectively, he played disciplined and heady defense on and off the ball, and even managed to help protect the rim without fouling. For a player who hit two threes but fouled out in just seven minutes of action earlier in the month against DePaul, this represents a significant improvement for both himself and his team.
Barret Benson: A-
15 minutes, 4 points (2-4 FG), 5 blocks, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls
The freshman big man just seems to get better and better every game in Dererk Pardon’s absence. Granted, he is still a non-factor offensively despite a couple of nice first half finishes around the rim, but he is using his defense to make a strong case to Coach Chris Collins to play significant minutes in conference play, an idea that would have made any Wildcat fan cringe just one month earlier. Albeit against an admittedly small IUPUI front line, Benson was an absolute monster around the basket. Even his staggering total of 5 blocks does not do justice to the effect that his alert rotations, disciplined verticality, and sheer size had on any Jaguars player looking to finish in the paint. For short-term prospects of winning games, this team still desperately needs Pardon back, but the upside of the experience that Benson is gaining in his stead is becoming more and more valuable each time the young center steps on the floor.
Isiah Brown: A-
29 minutes, 15 points (5-10 FG, 3-7 3PT, 2-2 FT), 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers
The dynamic rookie finally found his shooting stroke again Tuesday night and set his early career high in points, but perhaps more importantly, he continued to prove to Collins that he can be relied on in a lead-guard role when Bryant McIntosh is not on the floor. Yes, his recklessness did rear its ugly head on a couple of occasions, but overall he proved he could facilitate, score, and play solid perimeter defense for extended minutes if asked to.
Bryant McIntosh: B+
34 minutes, 10 points (3-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-2 FT), 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 turnovers
Shooting struggles aside, the junior point guard and team captain played as flawless a game as he has played all year. He controlled tempo, was patient yet assertive, and his decision making with the ball and with his shot selection could not be faulted for either his misses or his two turnovers. Yes, it is troublesome that the player who was supposed to be the Wildcats’ unquestioned offensive leader heading into the season has still yet to find his stroke scoring the basketball, but outside of his continued shooting woes, there is not much to dislike about what B-Mac did on the floor Tuesday night.
Scottie Lindsey: B
28 minutes, 11 points (4-11 FG, 0-3 3PT, 3-3 FT), 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 0 rebounds
The junior took on a more peripheral role in the Wildcat offense than what he has been accustomed to so far this season, and early foul trouble likely played a part in that. However, despite his struggles with fouls and despite going empty from behind the line for the first time in 9 games, Lindsey still extended his streak of scoring in double-figures in every game this season. More importantly, he played the role of secondary facilitator nicely with his three dimes and zero giveaways, showing none of the sloppiness with the ball that plagued him against Dayton.
Vic Law: C
18 minutes, 3 points (1-5 FG, 1-3 3PT), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 3 fouls
If Lindsey was peripheral, Law was more or less invisible. After making an early three, he too got himself into early foul trouble and sat for most of the first half as Taphorn excelled in his place. His third foul early in the second half, combined with the game already being well in hand, meant that the man who started the season as the Wildcats’ leading scorer was not really needed throughout the second half, as he played just 8 minutes and shot just once. This one is certainly a game to write-off when looking back at Law’s season thus far.
Jordan Ash: N/A
3 minutes, 0 points (0-0 FG), 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 1 foul
The Chicago native played the last 3 minutes of the second half blowout and only managed to crack the box score with a foul. It seems that Ash is firmly out of Collins’ rotation, save situations where additional perimeter defense is sorely needed.
Charlie Hall: A++
1 minute, 0 points (0-0 FG), 0 assists, 1 rebound (!!!!)
No trillion for Charlie this time! You have to love the assertiveness with which he grabbed the game-sealing defensive rebound with just 0:03 left on the clock. The man clearly knew what was at stake, and was dead-set on making a dent in the box score for the first time this season. Congrats.