It’s that time of year again. Even with football season in full swing, men’s basketball season is right around the corner. To kick off our 2020-2021 coverage of the men’s team, we will preview each player on Northwestern’s roster. We looked at forward Robbie Beran yesterday, and next up is guard Chase Audige.
Who he is
Redshirt sophomore; 6-foot-4; 200 pounds; Coram, NY; transfer from William & Mary
2018-19 (at W&M): 9.6 points per game; 29.2 minutes; 4.1 rebounds; 2.4 assists; .470 FG%; .371 3FG%; .677 FT%
Audige entered the transfer portal, along with four of his teammates, following the departure of William & Mary head coach Tony Shaver. He chose NU over the likes of Wake Forest, Providence, and Nevada and sat last season out in accordance with NCAA rules.
The transfer had an impressive freshman campaign in Williamsburg, as he was named to the Colonial Athletic Association’s All-Rookie team and won the VaSID Rookie of the Year, awarded to the best newcomer in the Commonwealth of Virginia (over Kihei Clark??). The New York native started 21 games for the Tribe, with 17 of those starts coming in conference play. In CAA games, he averaged double-figures in scoring and shot over 40 percent from three. He scored a career high of 24 points in a 93-88 loss to UNC-Wilmington.
However, Audige arrives in Evanston more renowned for his defensive prowess than his contributions on the offensive end. Awarded William & Mary’s co-defensive Most Valuable Player, he led the Tribe with 44 steals, the second most in program history, while averaging 1.5 swipes per game, good for fourth in the conference.
Audige has phenomenal athleticism and impressive length. An energetic and intelligent defender, he demonstrated an ability to obstruct passing lanes and pressure ball handlers throughout his freshman season. His fundamentals and defensive acumen compliment his unrelenting hustle.
On the other side of the court, Audige has shown flashes of upside. His shooting percentage from beyond the arc was solid, and he consistently served as a scoring option for the Tribe, reaching double figures in 13 of 20 conference contests. He led CAA freshmen in effective field goal percentage (eFG%) and finished in the top 15 of the conference in that metric, according to KenPom. He also dunked 19 times in 30 games.The ‘Cats only had 26 team dunks last season.
Inexperience is perhaps the biggest intangible weakness that could hinder his first season in Evanston. It’s hard to gauge how Audige will adjust to the life in the Big Ten, especially after sitting a season out. The transition from the Colonial Athletic Association could prove to be challenging. Simultaneously, can he maintain the positive momentum of his freshman season after a year of watching, rather than playing, competitive basketball?
From a more fundamental standpoint, although he shot nearly 38 percent from beyond the arc, 89.7 percent of his makes were assisted, indicating a reliance on spot-up shooting without creating looks of his own, a problem not exclusive to him on this team.
Audige is a popular pick for a breakout this season. His athleticism probably surpasses that of Boo Buie and Ryan Greer, while his proven defensive capability should be a boost for a Northwestern team previously reliant on the perimeter presence of Anthony Gaines.
There is a real possibility Audige could start on the wing alongside Buie, if he isn’t a primary bench option in rotation with Gaines and Ty Berry. Even off the bench, he’ll add some much needed energy and three-point shooting to a young, inexperienced Northwestern backcourt.