NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

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    Jan. 19, 1998

    Preview: Northwestern at Penn State

    Northwestern (7-7; 1-4) vs.
    Penn State (8-6; 1-3)
    Thur., Jan. 22, 1998 * 7:30 p.m.
    Bryce Jordan Center (15,300)
    Radio: WGN (720-AM)
    TV: ESPN

    Scouting Northwestern: The Wildcats enter today's game with a 7-7 overall record and a 1-4 mark in the Big Ten. NU suffered a 56-33 loss at Wisconsin last Saturday. All-America candidate Evan Eschmeyer recorded his 10th double-double of the year with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Down 23-18 at the half, the 'Cats battled back to within two points, 28-26, with 13:51 remaining. However, the 'Cats would get no closer and the Badgers coasted to victory. NU outrebounded Wisconsin 33-26 for the game. Eschmeyer leads the Big Ten Conference in scoring (22.1 ppg), rebounding (11.9 rpg) and field goal percentage (.635). He has tallied 28-consecutive double-figure scoring games. Freshman Sean Wink is second on the NU team in scoring (12.1 ppg), while junior Julian Bonner is third in points per game (11.6 ppg) and first in assists (3.7 apg).

    Scouting Penn State: Penn State, which hasn't played in eight days, enters tonight's game with an 8-6 overall record and a 1-3 mark in the Big Ten. PSU fell to Wisconsin, 76-57, in its last contest (Jan. 14). Pete Lisicky leads the team in scoring (15.0 ppg), assists (44), and free throw percentage (.909). Lisicky has been the Nittany Lion's top scorer in six contests this season. Jarrett Stephens is second in scoring (12.6 ppg) while Calvin Booth is third on the scoring chart (11.3 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.6 rpg).

    NU/Penn State, The Series: Tonight marks the 12th meeting between Northwestern and Penn State, with the Nittany Lions holding a 9-2 series lead. PSU won both games last season: 71-69 in Evanston (Jan. 22) and 61-55 in University Park (Feb. 15).

    Penn State Series Notes
    Series Record: Penn State, 9-2
    First Meeting: 1929, NU won, 41-17
    Last NU win in University Park: n/a
    Last Penn State win in University Park: 1997, 61-55
    Current Series Streak: Penn State, eight games

    Head Coach Kevin O'Neill: Kevin O'Neill is in his first season as head coach of the Wildcat basketball program. Tabbed as one of the nation's top recruiters, O'Neill came to NU from Tennessee where he was at the helm of the Volunteer program for three seasons. He inherited a program which won only five games the previous campaign, and took them to the NIT two seasons later. Prior to his stint in Knoxville, O'Neill was the head coach at Marquette for five years. The two-time Great Midwest Conference Coach of the Year, O'Neill guided the Golden Eagles to an NIT appearance and two NCAA Tournament berths. He left Milwaukee with an impressive mark of four winning campaigns in five years and a Great Midwest Conference championship in 1994. In addition, his last two teams compiled a remarkable 44-17 record, while leading the nation in field goal percentage defense. Overall, O'Neill has a 147-127 record in nine seasons.

    A Consistent Threat: Evan Eschmeyer has recorded 28-consecutive double-figure scoring games dating back to last season.

    20/20 Vision: Esch scored 20 or more points in eight games this season and scored a career-high 36 points at Dayton on Dec. 28. In addition, he scored 23 points vs. Siena, 20 vs. Sam Houston State, 24 against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Wofford, 30 vs. DePaul, 26 points at Boston College and 31 vs. Minnesota. He now has 13 20-point or more outings in his career. Eschmeyer also has shot over 60 percent in eight contests this season.

    Seeing Double: With his 13-point, 12-rebound performance at Wisconsin, Esch has recorded a double-double in 11 of the 14 games this season. In two of the games that he didn't record a double-double, Esch had nine rebounds in each contest.

    NU's Possible Starting Lineup
    No.                                 ppg     rpg
    13  Joe Branch (F, 6-3, Sr.)        2.3     3.2
    35  Aron Molnar (F, 6-11, So.)      6.1     3.5
    42  Evan Eschmeyer (C, 6-11, Sr.)   22.1    11.9
    4       Julian Bonner (G, 6-1, Jr.) 11.6    3.5
    22  Sean Wink (G, 6-2, Fr.)         12.1    2.6
    Off The Bench
    No.                                 ppg     rpg
    5   Joe Harmsen (F, 6-9, Jr.)       3.8     2.7
    31  Nate Pomeday (G, 6-2, Jr.)      3.5     1.5
    44  Jeff Eschmeyer (F, 6-4, Fr.)    0.4     1.1
    32  Terence Avery (F, 6-9, Fr.)     2.1     0.7
    10  Matt Kammrath (G, 6-1, So.)     0.0     0.1
    

    Evan Eschmeyer has missed just seven minutes of playing time in the last seven games.

    Here's Something to Remember: Evan Eschmeyer is a fifth-year senior and may petition the NCAA for a sixth year. Esch had a recurring injury in his right foot which prohibited him from playing during his first two seasons at NU.

    Evan Eschmeyer and Sean Wink have combined for 54 percent of the Wildcat offense.

    From Beyond the Arc: Sean Wink has made an immediate impact in his first season as a Wildcat. Wink leads the team in threes made (45), attempted (95) and three-point field goal percentage (.474). He has scored in double-figures in nine contests and is averaging 12.1 ppg, second-best on the team. Despite a badly twisted right ankle, which kept him out of the starting lineup and forced him into an air cast against Wofford, Wink tallied 18 points, including a 6-of-9 shooting performance from three-point land.

    Of Wink's 57 field goals this season, 45 have been three-pointers (79 percent).

    With a WINK of an Eye: Sean Wink is in eighth place in the Wildcat single-season record book for three-pointers made in a season. Wink has a team-best 45 threes, just five away from a three-way tied for fifth place. He also is in 10th place for career three-pointers made.

    As of Jan. 19, Sean Wink led the Big Ten in threes made per game (3.2) and was second in three-point field goal percentage (.474). He is shooting 48 percent in conference games (12-25).

    As of Jan. 13, Wink led all freshman in the country in threes made per game and was ranked 13th overall.

    The Iron Men: Julian Bonner, director of the NU offense, is averaging a team-high 38.1 minutes per game. Evan Eschmeyer is right behind him, averaging 37.2 mpg. Here are theirs and Sean Wink's playing time from the last four games:

                    Esch    Bonner      Wink
    at BC           38      40          30
    at Dayton       40      40          36
    at Iowa         40      40          39
    Minnesota       40      38          36
    Illinois        39      39          38
    Indiana         38      37          36
    Wisconsin       39      38          38
    

    An Outside Compliment: Julian Bonner, who averages 11.6 ppg, has doubled his point-total from last season (5.8 ppg). He has scored in double-figures in nine contests in 1997-98. The following are his point totals:

    23 points vs. Siena (career-high) 
    16 points at Iowa, Sam Houston State
    14 points vs. Seton Hall
    13 points vs. Illinois, Minnesota
    11 points vs. Troy State, Indiana
    10 points at Boston College

    Bonner also leads the team in assists (3.7 apg) and posted a career-high nine assists against DePaul.

    Senior Joe Branch tied a career-high in assists (six) against Indiana. He also had a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio against the Hoosiers.

    Among the Nation's Elite: As of January 13, the 'Cats were second in the nation in field goal percentage . NU has shot over 50 percent in eight games this season, including the five of the last eight contests. NU's best effort of the year was a 70 percent performance against Troy State, which ranks as the fifth best outing nationally by a team this season.

    Jeff Eschmeyer Continues to See Playing Time: Walk-on freshman Jeff Eschmeyer, brother of Evan, has seen his playing time increased is averaging 6.4 minutes per game and led the team in rebounding (4) and assists (3) at Iowa. The following is his bio: High School: Earned third-team All-Ohio honors as a senior and was honorable mention as a junior ... A two-time all-region pick and three-time Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC) honoree ... Averaged 17 points as a junior and 18 points as a senior at New Knoxville ... Three-time team MVP and two-time team captain ... Led team to a 17-4 record as a senior and the sectional championship as a sophomore ... Participated in the District 8 All-Star game and in the Ohio/Indiana Border War ... Three-year member of the National Honor Society and four-year scholar athlete ... Was the class president all four years of high school ... A four-year member of the honor roll.

    Walking Into the Playing Rotation: Sophomore walk-on Matt Kammrath has moved into the playing rotation for the 'Cats. Kammrath spelled Sean Wink and Julian Bonner in NU's last four games. (Minnesota, six minutes; Illinois, three minutes; Indiana, four minutes; and Wisconsin, five minutes).

    Napoleon Harris Joins Team: Freshman Napoleon Harris (6-4, 215), a member of the Wildcat football team, joined the basketball team. A native of Dixmoor, Ill., Harris was a Superprep All-American in football and voted the Defensive Player of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Southtown. Harris also was a basketball letterman.

    'Cats in the Conference Rankings: As of January 19, the Wildcats ranked among the top five in the conference in the following categories: Team: 1st, field goal percentage (.513); 1st, rebounding defense (26.3); 3rd, three-point field goal percentage (.401); 4th, scoring defense (61.8 ppg); 4th, rebounding margin (+7.0); 4th, assists (15.86); and 5th, defensive rebounds (23.64). Evan Eschmeyer: 1st, scoring (22.1 ppg); 1st, rebounds (11.9 rpg); 1st, offensive rebounds (4.00); 1st, defensive rebounds (7.86); and 1st, field goal percentage (.635). Sean Wink: 1st, three-point field goals made per game (3.2) and 2nd, three-point field goal percentage (.474).

    'Cats In the National Ranks: As of January 13, the Wildcats ranked in the national statistics in the following categories: Team: 2nd, field goal percentage and 26th, three-point field goal percentage. Evan Eschmeyer: 4th, rebounding; 6th, field goal percentage and 11th, scoring. Sean Wink: 13th, three-pointers made per game.

    Record-Breaking 'Cats: NU has set or tied eight records this season:

    • NU's six turnovers against Sam Houston State set the Welsh-Ryan Arena record for fewest turnovers in a game.
    • Welsh-Ryan Arena and school record for field goal percentage, .702 (33-for-37) vs. Troy State.
    • Welsh-Ryan Arena and school record for assists, 30 vs. Troy State.
    • Against DePaul, Evan Eschmeyer set a school and Welsh-Ryan Arena record for field goal percentage, .923 (12-for-13).
    • Evan Eschmeyer's 22 free throw attempts against Minnesota tied a NU single-game record.

    'Cats Sign Three to National Letters of Intent: Tavaras Hardy (Joliet, Ill./Providence), Steve Lepore (North Olmsted, Ohio/St. Edward) and David Newman (Des Moines, Iowa/Herbert Hoover) have signed national letters of intent to attend Northwestern and play basketball beginning the fall of 1998. The 1997 Herald News Player of the Year, Hardy (6-7, 215) averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds as a junior and 11 points and seven rebounds as a sophomore at Providence Catholic High School. Hardy was a first-team all-conference and all-area honoree in 1997 and was elected team captain for the 1997-98 season. Hardy chose Northwestern over Purdue and Illinois. Lepore (6-5, 200) earned All-America honors by Street and Smith and was an honorable mention all-county pick as junior. He averaged 10 points, six rebounds and four assists per game last season. Lepore led St. Edward High School, which is currently ranked fifth nationally by USA Today, to a 24-2 record and a state Final Four appearance in 1997 and a 21-5 record in 1996. Lepore chose Northwestern over the College of Charleston, Xavier and Valparaiso. An honorable mention All-America pick by Street and Smith, Newman (6-0, 170) averaged 20 points and seven assists as a junior and 19 points and five assists as a sophomore at Herbert Hoover High School. He earned all-state honors by both the Des Moines Register and coaches association, while being named to the all-conference and all-district teams. He chose Northwestern over Marquette, Minnesota and Iowa.

    Allouche Joins Wildcats Squad from Missouri: Danny Allouche (6-5, 193), a transfer from Missouri, will play on the Wildcat squad next season. A junior from Omer, Israel, Allouche averaged 2.7 points, 1.4 rebounds and 8.3 minutes as a sophomore at Missouri. In two seasons, he played in 52 games and started in four contests, while averaging 3.5 ppg. Prior to coming to Missouri, Allouche competed for the Haifa Haepel team, while serving three years in the Israeli Army.

    NU on WGN: WGN 720-AM is the radio voice of Wildcat basketball. The 50,000-watt, clear-channel station is heard in 38 states and in Canada. Handling the broadcasts for WGN this season is Dave Eanet, sports director at WGN and play-by-play announcer for the Wildcat football team. Joey Meyer, former head basketball coach at DePaul, handles game analysis.

    KO on WGN: Beginning with NU's game against Minnesota on Jan. 7, fans will be able to ask questions and then hear head coach Kevin O'Neill's post-game show over the Welsh-Ryan Arena airwaves. Fans may direct questions to Coach O'Neill by filling out a questionnaire and dropping it in the display box in the lobby of Welsh-Ryan Arena anytime during the game.

    Postgame Interviews: Northwestern head coach Kevin O'Neill and players will be made available to the media after today's game. NU's locker room is closed to the media. Following a brief cooling-off period, Coach O'Neill will address the media, followed by the NU players. Player requests should be made to Brad Hurlbut of media services.

    > NU vs. Penn State

    A Statistical Comparison
    NU PSU PPG 62.9 (880) 72.9 (1,020) FG% . 513 (313-610) .480 (365-761) 3-FG% .401 (73-182) .365 (96-263) FT % .588 (181-308) .755 (194-257) RPG 33.3 (135-331) 32.7 (458) Asst. 15.9 (222) 15.2 (213) TO 15.6 (219) 14.6 (204) Steals 3.4 (48) 7.4 (103)
    WILDCAT PROFILES
    #32 Terence Avery
    Freshman * Forward
    6-9 * 235

    Played in seven games ... Tallied a career-high seven points against Troy State ... Notched four points and a rebound at Iowa.

    Season and Career Highs
    Points:  7 vs. Troy State, 12/2
    Rebounds:  2 vs. Wofford, 12/17
    
    #3 Jonah Batambuze
    Freshman * Guard
    5-9 * 177
    Played in five games, averaging 2.8 minutes per contest.
    
    #4 Julian Bonner
    Junior * Guard
    6-1 * 203
    

    The director of the NU offense ... Averaging a team-high 38.1 minutes per game ... Recorded double figures in scoring in nine games this season: a career-high 23 points vs. Siena, 16 points at Iowa and vs. Sam Houston State, 14 vs. Seton Hall, 13 points vs. Illinois and Minnesota, 11 points vs. Indiana and Troy State, and 10 at Boston College ... Recorded only one turnover in 38 minutes against Minnesota ... Had a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio against Wofford ... Third on the squad in scoring (11.6 ppg) and team leader in assists (3.7 apg) ... Started all 14 contests.

    Season and Career Highs
    Points:  23 vs. Siena, 11/22
    Rebounds:  7 vs. DePaul, 12/6
    Assists:  9 vs. DePaul, 12/6
    
    #13 Joe Branch
    Senior * Forward
    6-3 * 200

    Started the first five games of the Big Ten season ... Dished out a career-high six assists against the Hoosiers and the Golden Gophers ... Averaging 2.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 24.7 minutes per game ... A defensive spark who held Seton Hall's and Maryland-Eastern Shore's top scoring threats under their averages ... Tallied a season-high eight points and seven rebounds against Maryland-Eastern Shore ... Also tied a season-high seven boards at Boston College.

    Season Highs
    Points:  8 vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore, 11/29
    Rebounds:  7 vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore, 11/29; at Boston College, 12/23
    Assists:  6 vs. Minnesota, 1/7; Indiana, 1/14
    Career Highs
    Points:  21 at Central Michigan, 12/19/95
    Rebounds:  8 at San Diego State, 11/24/95
    Assists:  6 vs. Minnesota, 1/7/98; Indiana, 1/14
    
    #42 Evan Eschmeyer
    Senior (5) * Center
    6-11 * 244
    

    Named Big Ten Player of the Week, 12/8/97 ... The first-ever unanimous choice for the MVP of the NU/DePaul game (other winners include DePaul's Dave Corzine and Mark Aguire and NU's Billy McKinney and Shon Morris) ... Notched eight 20-plus point performances, including a career-high 36 points at Dayton ... Set a Welsh-Ryan Arena and school record for field goal percentage against the Blue Demons, .923 (12-for-13) ... Now has 13 20-plus point outings in his career ... Has recorded 28-consecutive double-figure scoring games (dating back to last season) ... Notched 11 double-doubles this season and has 22 in his career ... Grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds at Boston College and against Seton Hall ... Shot over 60 percent in eight contests this season ... Tied the NU single-game record for free throw attempts (22) against Minnesota ... Leads the Big Ten in scoring (22.1 ppg), rebounding (11.9 rpg) and field goal percentage (.635) ... Also is second on the team in assists (2.6 apg) ... Holds the top (.923, 12-for-13), fifth (.857, 12-for-14) and seventh-best (.818, 9-for-11) field goal percentage performances in NU history ... Averaging 37.2 mpg.

    Season and Career Highs
    Points:  36 at Dayton, 12/29
    Rebounds:  18 vs. Seton Hall, 12/13/97; at Boston College, 12/23/97
    Assists:  8 vs. Troy State, 12/2/97
    
    #5 Joe Harmsen
    Junior * Forward
    6-9 * 248
    

    Averaging 3.8 ppg and 2.7 rpg in 15.5 minutes of play ... Tallied 10 points at Dayton ... Has seen action in all 13 contests and started in four games.

    Season Highs
    Points:  10 at Dayton, 12/28
    Rebounds:  7 vs. Wofford, 12/17
    Assists:  3 vs. Wofford, 12/17
    Career Highs
    Points:  21 at Wisconsin, 1/29/97
    Rebounds:  8 vs. Minnesota, 2/10/96
    Assists:  5 vs. Michigan, 1/4/97
    
    #44 Jeff Eschmeyer
    Freshman * Guard
    6-4 * 176
    

    Led the 'Cats in rebounding (four) and assists (three) at Iowa ... Played 21 minutes in absence of Nate Pomeday in Iowa City ... Played in seven games ... Brother of senior Evan Eschmeyer.

    Season and Career Highs
    Rebounds:  4 at Iowa, 1/3/98
    Assists:  3 at Iowa. 1/3/98
    
    #10 Matt Kammrath
    Sophomore * Guard
    6-0 * 185

    Came off the bench in the last four games to spell Julian Bonner and Sean Wink ... Has played in seven games.

    #35 Aron Molnar
    Sophomore * Center
    6-11 * 242
    

    Tallied five double-figure scoring performances: a career-high 11 points against Sam Houston State, 10 points vs. Md.-Eastern Shore, 11 points vs. Troy State, 10 at Boston College and 12 vs. Illinois ... Also recorded a career-high seven rebounds and four assists vs. SHS ... Has started in nine of 14 games this season (24.4 mpg), after averaging just five minutes last year ... Averaging 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

    Season and Career Highs
    Points:  11 vs. Sam Houston State, 11/26/97
    Rebounds:  7 vs. Sam Houston State, 11/26/97
    Assists:  4 vs. Sam Houston State, 11/26/97
    
    #31 Nate Pomeday
    Junior * Guard
    6-2 * 196
    

    Missed the first three conference contests after re-aggravating his left knee ... Had a season-high 14 points, while dishing out eight assists against Troy State ... Converted 4-of-6 threes in that contest ... Tallied eight points and a career-high eight assists against Siena ... Averaging 3.5 ppg ... Has a 2.3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio ... Played in 11 games and started in nine contests.

    Season Highs
    Points:  14 vs. Troy State, 12/2
    Rebounds:  6 vs. Md.-Eastern Shore, 11/29
    Assists:  8 vs. Siena, 11/26; vs. Troy State, 12/2
    Career Highs
    Points:  18 vs. Michigan State, 2/19/97
    Rebounds:  6 vs. Md.-Eastern Shore, 11/29/97
    Assists:  8 vs. Siena, 11/26/97; vs. Troy State, 12/2/97
    
    #22 Sean Wink
    Freshman * Guard
    6-2 * 176

    Only freshman to have started and played significant minutes in the first 13 games of the season ... Exploded for a game-high 22 points against Indiana ... Converted four-of-five threes in that game ... Battled back from an ankle injury suffered the day of the game and scored 18 points (6-for-9 shooting) against Wofford in an air cast ... Recorded back-to-back 20-plus point performances against DePaul (21 points) and Troy State (20 points) ... Has nine double-figure scoring games on the season ... Tops in the conference in threes made per game (3.2) and is second in three-point field goal percentage (.474) ... Leads all freshman in the country in threes made per game ... Averaging 12.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg and 2.1 apg.

    Season and Career Highs
    Points:  21 vs. DePaul, 12/6/97
    Rebounds:  6 vs. DePaul, 12/6/97
    Assists:  4 vs. DePaul, 12/6/97; at Dayton, 12/18/97