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MAILBAG: A little bit of everything?

This one is more of a mixed bag, if you will.

@NULax on Twitter.

Hello, faithful readers of Inside NU, welcome to Sarah Effress’ unconventional introduction as editor-in-chief of this lovely site. As the weather in Chicago begins to warm up and May takes off, there’s a lot Wildcat fans want to know ahead of spring postseasons and fall preseasons. Sprinkle in some fun, not-too-serious questions here and there, even maybe a little football talk, and boom, there you have it: it’s mailbag time.

“What do you think of the prospect of a NU UMD lax rematch in the Big Ten tourney?” - @sarah_meadow

Sarah: Who wouldn’t want to watch two of the best lacrosse teams — and one of the best rivalries — in the country go at it again? Just as it’s difficult for opponents to play at Martin Stadium, Maryland’s lacrosse complex isn’t particularly welcoming either, and to the Terps' credit, many of Northwestern’s weaknesses were exposed in the teams’ regular-season meeting. One thing this Wildcat squad does know how to do, however, is take a loss and come back stronger. In a way, the loss was a good thing — now, the Lakeshow has a chip on its shoulder and a Big Ten Tournament title to defend. There’s no better fuel to the fire than that.

“Which NU athletes have the best NIL deals?” - @BreaLassek

Sarah: I’m going to have to give this one to sophomore star Maddie Zimmer, who probably has the best NIL deal on campus with STX Field Hockey. STX is pretty much the cream of the crop when it comes to both field hockey and lacrosse gear, and its NIL athletes are among the best in the nation. Sponsored along with Zimmer, the 2021 NCAA Tournament MVP, are Maryland teammates Hope Rose, Riley Donnelly and Emma DeBerdine, all of whom share a host of B1G and national honors and helped UMD to a Final Four appearance in the fall. Safe to say, those Terps are in some pretty good company.

Honorable mention: Joe Spivak’s NIL deal with WWE, because it just feels right doesn’t it?

“Gimme some transfer portal names for whom Chris Collins is a factor.” - @kicknyrgios

Sarah: Obviously, NUMBB’s biggest concern right now is finding a big man to fill the holes both Ryan Young and Pete Nance will leave next season. As far as that talent coming from the transfer portal, we’ve already seen Collins lock down UTEP transfer Tydus Verhoeven to fill one of the open forward spots, and the addition of forwards Nick Martinelli and Luke Hunger in the incoming class act as padding around that position.

Though there haven’t been any official visits from any potential transfers that we know of, it’s obvious NU’s biggest need right now is at center. If I were Collins, I might take a look at Rice sophomore transfer Mylyjael Poteat — he averaged 13.8 minutes, 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game at one of Northwestern’s peer institutions. Poteat did recently take an official visit to Pitt, but he’s still in the portal for now.

“What on earth is Northwestern men’s basketball going to do at the five for the 2022-2023 season, and going forward?” - @ZeiglerJaguar

Sarah: This is a good question, and to reiterate my last answer, a solid five is absolutely the team’s biggest need right now. Its current option is sophomore Matt Nicholson, a 7-foot junior who averaged 4.33, 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game last season. In reality, the Michigan native’s lack of consistent time on the court makes it difficult to judge if he can fulfill either Nance or Young’s roles. If Nicholson, Verhoeven, Hunger or Martinelli cannot answer the call as big men next season, Collins’ will have to rely on Robbie Beran to supplement the center role if he can’t find another viable option in the transfer portal.

“Long-term trajectory of NUWBB. Thoughts?” - @JackLandgraff

Sarah: I’m cautiously optimistic about Joe McKeown’s squad heading into the late fall and winter. The re-addition of center Courtney Shaw and guard Sydney Wood for their fifth and final seasons completely changes the game — with a stellar sophomore class returning, headed by Jillian Brown, Caileigh Walsh and Mel Daley, I don’t see why the ‘Cats would finish much lower in the conference standings than they did in February. It’s difficult to predict what the Big Ten will look like next year given the turbulent nature of the transfer portal right now, but I have high hopes for this squad.

“Will we have the chance to see an NU bowl game appearance or Men’s NCAA tournament appearance before June 2024?” - @JackLandgraff

Sarah: There is a lot of post-spring camp excitement coming out of the Northwestern Football program right now, especially pertaining to the growth of many younger players in the offseason. I would not be surprised at all if we see a six-win season, if not more, within the next few years based on the up-and-downness we Northwestern fans have grown accustomed to when it comes to our football team.

As far as basketball is concerned, I don’t know if I could say the same. Chris Collins’ squads as of late just haven’t matched up to the rest of the Big Ten, and there isn’t much evidence I could use to support the idea that Northwestern will make a tournament appearance in the foreseeable future. But who knows.

“Which Evanston restaurant should open up a stand at Ryan Field and/or WRA?” - BenChasenINU

Sarah: Hear me out. Bat 17 sliders stand. Other fun options could include Soul & Smoke (think about their mac and cheese on a chilly November Saturday), and I would also include Hecky’s in that mix. Though Ryan Field does have boneless wings, 10Q Chicken might rival the current option.

“Way too early predictions for the 2022 football season?” - @dan_olinger

Sarah: I can see the ‘Cats putting together a five- to six-win season this fall. As far as predictions go, let’s hope they win their non-conference matchups, versus Duke, SIU and Miami-Ohio, and I could see them winning Big Ten contests against Maryland and Illinois for sure. What it comes down to is if NU can notch that sixth win and make it to a bowl game — that last hurdle could come in Dublin against Nebraska, Purdue or Minnesota, but realistically, it’s just too early to say. I will add, however, that it is an even year. Do with this information what you will.

“Who’s your QB1 on August 27?” - @mgfleming12

Sarah: All signs point toward yet another QB battle, this time between Ryan Hilinski and rising junior Brendan Sullivan. No one has seen Sullivan play at a collegiate level yet outside of practice, so it’s difficult to say. Therefore, I will pull a pre-season Fitz and say I truly have no idea and I guess we’ll just have to wait and see who takes the field in Dublin.

“What do you ~really~ think of the kids over @WNURSports?” - @ally_nav12

Sarah: I love a good crossover episode. But in all seriousness, the kids over at WNUR Sports are doing some awesome broadcasting, podcasting and writing (they may have even poached me and former Co-EIC Ben Chasen to join staff). Student publications support student publications, all day, every day.

“What Northwestern sport will surprise us most (in a good or bad way) next year?” - @Bradley_Locker

Sarah: Keep an eye on Martin Stadium this fall because Northwestern Men’s Soccer is on the up and up. Last season’s squad exceeded expectations with its first round penalty shootout dub against No. 10 Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament and took powerhouse Indiana to the wire in the quarterfinals to close out the season. Those two results, the return of last year’s underclassmen duo Justin Weiss and Colin McCammy along with rising senior Vicente Castro and a top 10 incoming recruiting class give Russell Payne’s side a promising front heading into the 2022 season.

“POV: You’re sitting in the Ryan Field press box for an 11 am kickoff between Northwestern and Ball State. It’s early September, and the sun is beating down on you as you watch the ‘Cats struggle to build a substantial lead. The pressure of the game makes your heart race as your fingers fly to right the Rapid Reaction, and that 85-degree heat certainly isn’t helping.

You’re desperate for a thirst quencher. What’s the go-to bev?” - B1GFitzGuy

Sarah: Diet Coke. Two cans, one for each half. And a water on the side.

“How much interest do you have in shaping where the conversation goes versus just trying to be thorough in your reporting and letting the reaction go where it may?” - NU’06er

Sarah: Inside NU is a site run by Northwestern students for Northwestern fans, so inevitable there’s going to be a little bit of bias in our content here and there, even when said content isn’t necessarily a column or an op-ed. Otherwise, it’s my job as editor and my writers’ jobs as reporters to get the objective information across so that our readers can form their own opinions and discuss freely in the comments.

That being said, there are aspects of our online presence (including the Twitter) that toe the line between being an objective source, a harsh critic or a superfan. And, there are times when we’ve crossed those lines, both before and during my time on exec. Going forward in my role, communicating regularly and transparently with our audience, Northwestern Athletics, coaches and athletes when applicable is a priority my staff and I take seriously. Other than that, we’re always making sure we do our best to highlight Wildcat teams and programs because that’s what we love to do.

So this is me reiterating the door is open for feedback, suggestions and a little banter here and there. I’m proud of the awesome spring coverage we’ve done so far, and I’m looking forward to finding even more stories to put out into our little Northwestern universe for you all.