Entering a season full of uncertainty, the Northwestern’s men’s basketball team will look to its returning starters for a steady, scoring hand. Within that sect of the roster sits Chase Audige, a redshirt senior. As we near the start of the season, it’s time to dive into the team’s starting roster. Today, we’ll examine Audige and all he has to offer the ‘Cats this season.
Who is he?
Senior; guard; 6-foot-4; 200 pounds; from Coram, N.Y.; eighth-ranked prospect in Pennsylvania, coming out of high school in 2018
26.9 minutes per game; 9.8 points per game; 4.2 rebounds; 1.9 assists; 1.8 steals per game; 33.8 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 71.7 FT%.
Coming off his first season with the ‘Cats in 2020-21, in which he led the team in scoring after transferring from William & Mary, expectations were high for Chase Audige. While the now-redshirt senior found his home at Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2021-22 — starting in every game he played in the team’s 15-win campaign — his settling in wasn’t exactly smooth.
Yes, Audige snatched 42 steals last season. His defensive prowess has never been in question. However, complaints about the guard’s offensive consistency are what linger. A regression was to be expected after such a scene-breaking 2020 outing. Still, converting on just over 30 percent of his field goal attempts was a more harrowing decline than any relatively menial regression. Even worse was Audige’s three-point mark, as he cashed in on just one of every four releases. In fairness, the spotlight found the Audige when it mattered most. A game-clinching free-throw against Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament comes to mind. Versus Wisconsin, Audige flexed a 23-point performance, which led the team.
A decline in field goal percentage every year of his collegiate career could be cause for concern, but NU’s coaching staff has only increased Audige’s minutes since he transferred nearly three years ago. Assumedly, there’s hope within the team that their guard is just a few games away from becoming a more consistent floor-general in his senior season.
Not a single player on the Wildcats’ roster averaged a steal or more per game last season—that is, besides Audige and his swiping hands. Head coach Chris Collins relies on the senior to generate turnovers and flip the court on a set of Big Ten opponents that boast high-powered talents. Ken Pom rated Northwestern in the top half of the college basketball landscape in terms of defensive turnover percentage (a stat measuring a team’s effectiveness of stealing the ball, independent of pacing). That’s largely a product of Audige’s contributions.
Projected improvements in his two-point field goal percentage, grounded in 21st-century optimism (workout highlights from his Instagram), could make the guard an all-around weapon for the team.
Most notably, Audige struggled from behind the arc last year. Putting up 4.5 threes per game yielded an inefficient return for the team, failing to fulfill the expectations that often accompany being in the backcourt of a modern-day offense. Unless Audige made significant progress in the offseason in his three-point efficacy, he’ll have to expand his offensive prowess by reorganizing his shot selection. That means taking fewer threes, and driving the rim more.
Though not as much a weakness as an area for improvement, Audige’s development in rebounding could prove to be priceless for the ‘Cats. He flashed potential at times in 2021, nabbing seven boards in five different games. But averaging just about four rebounds per game on the season implies a failure to consistently establish a presence on the boards.
Heading into his final season with Northwestern, Audige looks to leave his mark on a team that’s widely expected to be run-of-the-mill at best. His defense isn’t in doubt. A few minutes of film show Audige’s relentless nature on defense.
What Collins and Co. need from the guard is consistent scoring. The departure of Pete Nance, last season’s leader in most offensive categories, leaves a gaping hole in the ‘Cats’ attack. It’ll be up to the veterans on the squad, Audige included, to pick up the slack. Expect more shot volume for the senior—motivated both by a belief that another offseason of training has led to improvements and the necessity to fill Nance’s shoes.