With the 119th season of Big Ten Basketball set to begin in a few weeks, the 14 member schools gathered for the annual Big Ten Media Day in Minneapolis, MN. Chase Audige ’17 joined Northwestern University teammates Boo Buie and Robbie Beran and head coach Chris Collins to discuss the upcoming season with the assembled press.
Alex Cervantes of The Daily Northwestern recapped the event.
The Wildcats enter the new campaign on the heels of a 2021-22 season that failed to meet expectations. In its wake, significant contributors departed Evanston in the offseason.
Nevertheless, Collins is as excited as ever for a fresh slate of NU hoops.
“We have five of our top seven scorers back from last year, a number of veteran players,” Collins said. “We feel like we’re gonna have a chance to be very competitive this year.”
Here are a few takeaways from the Cats’ appearance in Minnesota.
All Eyes on Experienced Perimeter
Collins made it clear that NU will “go as far as the perimeter goes.”
That leaves the Cats’ success up to Buie, Audige, and Beran. NU’s lead trio combined for just over 30 points per game last season and will be called on for much more this season. For the Cats to be successful, all three will likely have to be double-digit scorers, a mark only Buie hit last year.
Regardless, optimism abounds, and there is hope that the trio can meet Collins’ lofty bar.
Audige highlighted junior guard Ty Berry and sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer as off-season standouts. Their growth, along with a leap from sophomore guard Julian Roper II, gives Collins a solid six-man rotation on the perimeter. In the end, though, Audige said it might be Beran’s play that’s the most important.
“When Robbie’s good, we’re good,” Audige said. “His energy, his defense, when he’s hitting shots, that’s something that can really take us over the edge as a team.”
Buie & Audige Talk Shot Selection
The pair of returning Cats is going to be the focal point of the Cats’ offense once again in 2022-23. With that, NU fans can expect the ball to be in their hands even more this season, which also raises concerns about shot selection.
Buie and Audige are both looking to improve on this.
“As long as someone’s making the shot, that means we’re all scoring,” Buie said. “That’s been the real focus this year, just getting the best shot every possession.”
Last season, Buie and Audige finished first and third in field goal attempts, respectively. Buie shot 39.7 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from distance. Audige, although hampered by an early season injury, was no better, shooting 33.8 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range.
Both players can get hot in a hurry and torch opposing teams, but they can just as quickly fall victim to contested jumpers and deep pull-up three-pointers. When it goes in, it’s a great shot; when it doesn’t, it’s an even more glaring mistake.
“I’ve really tried to make an emphasis on moving the ball,” Audige said. “I’ve learned over the years it’s not about my shot, it’s a team shot, it’s about making the right play.”
Audige and the Wildcats open their season on November 2 at home against Quincy University.