Tigers find trouble scoring early
If finding scoring on the offensive end of the court isn't Northwestern's main focus at this point in the offseason, it's certainly a key aspect right now.
The Tigers, who graduated a number of their top scorers from the winter, have struggled to consistently score throughout their summer season in the Stellar Construction Summer League. That issue became evident once again on Tuesday night.
After watching Notre Dame (Green Pond) race out to an 11-0 lead, Northwestern was able to regain the momentum slightly after making it a two-point deficit at 13-11. But the Crusaders held the Tigers to eight points the rest of the half, building a 39-19 lead at the break to a 60-39 victory at Whitehall High School.
"We started off OK, but then a couple of things went bad," head coach Billy Hallman said. "We need to learn how to compete. When something goes wrong, we just have to keep playing and battle through it. This group struggles with that."
Northwestern was held scoreless until Parker Jones drained a three-pointer from the left wing. That got the scoring going for the Tigers, at least for Jones, who scored the first eight points and 10 of the first 11.
Jones finished with a team-high 13, and the incoming-senior has been one of a few consistent scoring pieces after his play in the winter.
"Last year I put a lot on him, even it being my first year," Hallman said. "Even though we had a lot of seniors, I flat out told him everything was running through him. He handled it real well. The other guys accepted it last year.
"This year has been tough because he's never been the leader of the team. He has to do so much for us. He has to handle the ball, and tonight he was guarding their best guy on defense. We ask a lot of him right now, but he's handling it well."
Brady Mengel figures to be another solid contributor in that department, but he missed Tuesday's game.
That left a void at one of the wing positions, allowing a number of other Tigers an opportunity to prove themselves to Hallman and the coaching staff. The question now has been who will step up in those roles?
Incoming-freshman Sam Yadush started at point guard and finished with 12 points, eight of which came after the break.
"They [three incoming-freshmen] are going to have a chance to play a role for us," Hallman said. "Two of them can shoot, and one of them is 6-4."
Hallman is hoping Dustin Snyder can provide a spark as well, particularly in the transition game, with his athleticism and size.
"We don't have a post presence," Hallman said. "We have to move, and we have to move the ball. Teams are going to start ganging up on Parker. They're going to stay out on him and put people in the lane. Other guys need to step up. Dustin Snyder has to step up. Ryan McCann has to step up."