NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

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    Feb. 28, 1998

    'Cats to Play Minnesota

    Northwestern (10-15; 3-12 Big Ten) at
    Minnesota (12-14; 5-10 Big Ten)
    Sat., Feb. 28, 1998 • 1:30 p.m.
    Williams Arena (14,300)
    Radio: WGN Radio
    TV: ESPN Regional

    NU’s Possible Starting Lineup
    No.                                 ppg   rpg
    23   Napoleon Harris (F, 6-4, Fr.)  4.6   4.9
    13   Joe Branch (F, 6-3, Sr.)       2.4   3.2
    42   Evan Eschmeyer (C, 6-11, Sr.) 21.5  10.7
    4    Julian Bonner (G, 6-1, Jr.)    9.2   2.9
    22   Sean Wink (G, 6-2, Fr.)       12.6   2.5
    Off The Bench
    No.                               ppg   rpg
    35   Aron Molnar (F, 6-11, So.)   4.7   2.9
    5    Joe Harmsen (F, 6-9, Jr.)    4.0   3.2
    31   Nate Pomeday (G, 6-2, Jr.)   3.7   2.9
    32   Terence Avery (F, 6-9, Fr.)  2.1   1.2
    44   Jeff Eschmeyer (F, 6-4, Fr.) 0.3   1.2
    10   Matt Kammrath (G, 6-1, So.)  0.0   0.1

    Scouting Northwestern: The Wildcats enter tonight’s game with a 10-15 overall record and a 3-12 mark in Big Ten action. NU fell to Iowa, 75-55, on Wednesday. All-America candidate Evan Eschmeyer tallied his 39th-consecutive double-figure scoring game with 18 points.

    Eschmeyer leads the Big Ten Conference in overall scoring (21.5 ppg), rebounding (10.7 rpg) and is third in field goal percentage (.609). Wink, who leads the Big Ten in three-pointers made per game (82, 3.28), is second on the NU team in scoring (12.6 ppg), while junior Julian Bonner is third in points per game (9.3 ppg) and first in assists (3.96 apg).

    Scouting Minnesota: The Golden Gophers enter today’s game with a 12-14 overall record and a 5-10 mark in Big Ten action. In its latest action, Minnesota fell to No. 10 Purdue, 87-83, on Wednesday. Eric Harris tallied 22 points in the UM effort. Sam Jacobson leads the team in scoring with an 18.3 ppg average. Quincy Lewis (13.2 ppg), Eric Harris (13.1 ppg) and Kevin Clark (10.9 ppg) all average in double figures for the Gophers.

    NU/Minnesota, The Series: Today’s game marks the 135th meeting between Northwestern and Minnesota with the Gophers holding a 85-49 series lead. The ‘Cats won the first matchup of the season, 66-59, in Evanston on January 7. Evan Eschmeyer tallied a game-high 31 points and 12 rebounds in the NU win, while Eric Harris had 13 points for Minnesota.

    Minnesota Series Notes
    Series Record: Minnesota leads, 85-49
    First Meeting: 1909, Minnesota won, 21-16
    Last NU win in Minneapolis: 65-60, 1986
    Last UM win in Minneapolis: 77-68, 1996
    Current Series Streak: NU, one game

    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 150-135 record in 10 seasons.

    Making Strides: In Kevin O’Neill’s first season as head coach of the NU program, the Wildcats have made significant strides.

    • The ‘Cats victories in Big Ten play are the most since the 1992-93 season and this makes the first time in 15 years that NU has won 10 games at home.
    • In 14 of NU’s setbacks, four have come down to the last possession of the game.
    • In addition, the ‘Cats have set or tied various records this season: NU’s six turnovers against Sam Houston State set the Welsh-Ryan Arena record for fewest turnovers in a game … Set a Welsh-Ryan Arena and school record for field goal percentage, .702 (33-for-37) vs. Troy State … Set a Welsh-Ryan Arena and school record for assists, 30 vs. Troy State … The ‘Cats held Chicago State and Wisconsin to 13-first half points which tied a Welsh-Ryan Arena record for fewest points in a half.

    NU has tied or outrebounded 20 of its 25 opponents, including 11 of 15 Big Ten opponents.

    As of Feb. 26, Evan Eschmeyer was one of only two Division I players to be ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring (16th, tied), rebounding (7th, tie) and field goal percentage (12th). The other is Michael Olowokandi of Pacific.

    Evan Eschmeyer was named as one of 25 finalists for the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Player of the Year Award.

    All-America candidate Evan Eschmeyer is one of only seven NU players to have scored more than 1,000 points (1,190) and grabbed more than 600 rebounds (681).

    A Consistent Threat: Evan Eschmeyer has recorded 39-consecutive double-figure scoring games dating back to last season.

    20/20 Vision: Esch scored 20 or more points in 13 games this season and scored a career-high 37 points against Penn State on Feb. 8. In addition, he scored 36 points at Dayton, 31 vs. Minnesota, 30 vs. DePaul and Michigan State, 26 points at Boston College and vs. Wisconsin, 24 points at Penn State and against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Wofford, 23 points vs. Siena and 20 vs. Chicago State and Sam Houston State. He now has 19 20-point or more outings in his career.

    Eschmeyer also has shot over 60 percent in 13 contests this season.

    As of Feb. 24, Evan Eschmeyer had the fourth-most double-doubles in the country and the fifth-most 30+ point games in the nation.

    Seeing Double: With his 18-point, 10-rebound performance at Illinois, Esch has recorded a double-double in 17 games this season. As of Feb. 24, he had the fourth-most double-doubles in the country.

    Esch has recorded a double-double in 10 of 15 Big Ten tilts.

    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. The NCAA will review this petition upon the conclusion of this season.

    The Eschmeyer Report: Evan Eschmeyer has made his way onto various lists in the NU record books. Esch ranks 11th in career scoring (1,190), sixth in career rebounds (681), first in career field goal percentage (.599), third in career free throw attempts (560), sixth in career free throws made (340) and third in career blocked shots (81). If that’s not enough, he also is second in single-season points (538), tied for fifth in single-season rebounds (268), first in single-season free throws made (170) and attempted (276).

    Eschmeyer needs 45 points (538) to break the Wildcat single-season points record which is was set in 1970 by Dale Kelley (583).

    A 1,000-Point Scorer: Evan Eschmeyer became the 22nd player in Northwestern history to score 1,000 points. Eschmeyer now has 1,190 points in his NU career, good for 11th place in the history books. He ties Cedric Neloms and Kevin Rankin for the fifth-fastest 1,000-point performance in school history. Only four other NU players have reached 1,000 points faster (Billy McKinney, Joe Rucklick, Dale Kelley, Jim Burns).

    Evan Eschmeyer and Sean Wink have combined for 56 percent of the Wildcat offense.

    Sean Wink has converted four or more three-point attempts in 10 games this season.

    The Record Breaker: Freshman Sean Wink shattered the NU three-point field goals made record last week (82 threes). Entering the Ohio State game, Wink needed just three threes to break the record. He responded with six threes in just eight attempts (75 percent). Wink now ranks fifth in career threes made, second in career three-point field goal percentage (.474) and third in single-season three attempts (173).

    The Leader of Pack: Sean Wink leads the Big Ten in threes made (82) and attempted (173) and is second in three-point field goal percentage (.474). He has scored in double-figures in 17 contests and is averaging 12.6 ppg, second-best on the team. His six-of-eight shooting performance against Ohio State was his best outing from beyond the arc this season.

    Of Wink’s 105 field goals this season, 82 have been three-pointers (78 percent). His 82 threes are tops in the Big Ten.

    As of Feb. 24, Wink was tied for sixth nationally in threes made per game and is 19th in three-point field goal percentage.

    Linebacker Makes Statement on Basketball Court: Freshman walk-on Napoleon Harris, who is a scholarship football player, has become a vital member of the NU basketball team. In the last four games, Harris has averaged 12.0 points and 8.8 rebounds, including career highs in points (18) against Ohio State and rebounds (13) at Indiana. Overall, he has played in 16 games and is averaging 4.6 points, 4.9 rebounds in 14.1 minutes. He has led the ‘Cats in rebounding in three games this season (at Penn State, eight; at Purdue, nine; and at Indiana, 11).

    Napoleon Harris made his first start of the season against Iowa.

    The Iron Men: Julian Bonner, director of the NU offense, is averaging a team-high 38.8 minutes per game. Bonner has played 39 or more minutes in 15 games this season. Evan Eschmeyer and Sean Wink are right behind him with averages of 37.4 mpg and 33.5 mpg. Esch has played more than 39 minutes in 11 games.

    An Outside Compliment: Julian Bonner, who averages 9.2 ppg, has been a steady contributor to the NU offense. He has scored in double-figures in 11 contests in 1997-98. The following are his point totals from those games:
    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, at Michigan, at Illinois
    10 points at Boston College

    Bonner also leads the team in assists (3.96 apg) and posted a career-high nine assists against Michigan State, Chicago State and DePaul.

    ‘Cats in the Conference Rankings: As of Feb. 26th, the Wildcats ranked among the top five in the conference in the following categories: Team: 1st, rebounding defense (27.1); 4th, rebounding margin (+7.0); 4th, three-point field goal percentage (.389); 4th, scoring defense (64.0); 4th, defensive rebounds (23.64) and 5th, assists (15.32); 5th, field goal percentage (.478).

    Evan Eschmeyer: 1st, scoring (21.5 ppg); 1st, rebounds (10.7 rpg); 1st, offensive rebounds (3.56); 1st, defensive rebounds (7.16); and 3rd, field goal percentage (.609).

    Sean Wink: 1st, three-point field goals made per game (3.28) and 2nd, three-point field goal percentage (.474).

    ‘Cats In the National Ranks: As of February 24, the Wildcats ranked in the national statistics in the following categories: Team: 13th, rebounding margin.

    Evan Eschmeyer: 7th (t), rebounding; 12th, field goal percentage and 16th (t), scoring.

    Sean Wink: 6th (t), threes made; 19th, three-point field goal percentage.

    ‘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.

    NU vs. Minnesota A Statistical Comparison
             NU                 UM
    PPG     61.0 (1,526)       71.7 (1,863)
    FG%     .478 (532-1,114)   .442 (674-1,524)
    3-FG%   .389 (135-347)     .342 (136-398)
    FT %    .614 (327-513)     .715 (379-530)
    RPG     33.4 (836)         35.6 (925)   
    Asst.   15.3 (383)         13.9 (363)
    TO      17.0 (426)         13.4 (349)
    Steals   3.9 (99)           9.0 (235)

    #32 Terence Avery
    Freshman • Forward
    6-9 • 235
    Played in 10 games … Earned first collegiate start at Purdue … Grabbed a career-high five rebounds at Penn State in 12 minutes of play … 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, 12/2/97
    Rebounds: 5 at Penn State, 1/22/98

    #3 Jonah Batambuze
    Freshman • Guard
    5-9 • 177
    Played in six games, averaging 2.7 minutes per contest.

    #4 Julian Bonner
    Junior • Guard
    6-1 • 203
    The director of the NU offense … Averaging a team-high 38.8 minutes per game … Recorded double figures in scoring in 11 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 at Michigan, vs. Indiana and Troy State and at Illinois; and 10 at Boston College … Third on the squad in scoring (9.2 ppg) and team leader in assists (3.96 apg) … Dished out a career-high nine assists against Michigan State, DePaul and Chicago State … Started all 25 contests.
    Season and Career Highs
    Points: 23 vs. Siena, 11/22/97
    Rebounds: 7 vs. DePaul, 12/6/97
    Assists: 9 vs. DePaul, 12/6/97; Chicago State, 1/27/98; Michigan State, 1/31/98

    #13 Joe Branch
    Senior • Forward
    6-3 • 200
    Started 14 of 15 Big Ten games … Tallied a season-high 11 points and seven rebounds against Chicago State … Dished out a career-high six assists against the Hoosiers, Golden Gophers and Hawkeyes … Averaging 2.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 26.2 minutes per game … A defensive spark who held Seton Hall’s and Maryland-Eastern Shore’s top scoring threats under their averages … Also grabbed seven rebounds against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Boston College.
    Season Highs
    Points: 11 vs. Chicago State, 1/27/98
    Rebounds: 7 vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore, 11/29/97; at Boston College, 12/23/97; Chicago State, 1/27/98
    Assists: 6 vs. Minnesota, 1/7/98; Indiana, 1/14/98; Iowa, 2/25/98
    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, 1/14/98

    #44 Jeff Eschmeyer
    Freshman • Guard
    6-4 • 176
    Led the ‘Cats in rebounding (four) and assists (three) at Iowa … Played in 11 games … Averaging 7.4 minutes per contest … Brother of senior Evan Eschmeyer.
    High School Profile: 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.
    Season and Career Highs
    Rebounds: 4 at Iowa, 1/3/98
    Assists: 3 at Iowa, 1/3/98

    #42 Evan Eschmeyer
    Senior (5) • Center
    6-11 • 244
    Named as one of 25 finalists for the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Player of the Year Award … As of Feb. 24, was one of only two players in Division I to be ranked among the top 20 nationally in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage … Has the fourth-most double-doubles in the country (17) … Also is tied for the fifth-most 30+ point games in the nation (five) … Became the 22nd player in NU history to score 1,000 points … Ties the fifth-quickest performance in school history … Now ranks 11th on the NU scoring chart with 1,190 points … One of only seven NU players to score over 1,000 points and grab over 600 rebounds (681) … 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 13 20-plus point performances this season, including a career-high 37 points vs. Penn State … Now has 19 20-plus point outings in his career … Has recorded 39-consecutive double-figure scoring games (dating back to last season) … Notched 17 double-doubles this season and has 27 in his career … Grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds at Boston College and against Seton Hall … Shot over 60 percent in 13 contests this season … Set a Welsh-Ryan Arena and school record for field goal percentage against the Blue Demons, .923 (12-for-13) … Tied the NU single-game and Welsh-Ryan Arena record for free throw attempts (22) against Minnesota and Penn State … Also set an Arena record for points (37) and free throws made (17) against the Nittany Lions … Leads the Big Ten in scoring (21.5 ppg), rebounding (10.7 rpg) and is third in field goal percentage (.609) … 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 37.4 mpg.
    Season and Career Highs
    Points: 37 vs. Penn State, 2/8/98
    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
    Scored a season-high 11 points against Penn State, while tying a career high with 10 rebounds … Also had 10 points vs. Michigan State and at Dayton … Grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out a season-high four assists against Chicago State … Averaging 4.0 ppg and 3.2 rpg in 16.6 minutes of play … Has seen action in all 25 contests and started in 12 games.
    Season Highs
    Points: 11 vs. Penn State, 2/8/98
    Rebounds: 10 vs. Chicago State, 1/27/98; Penn State, 2/8/98
    Assists: 4 vs. Chicago State, 1/27/98; Wisconsin, 2/11/98
    Career Highs
    Points: 21 at Wisconsin, 1/29/97
    Rebounds: 10 vs. Chicago State, 1/27/98; Penn State, 2/8/98
    Assists: 5 vs. Michigan, 1/4/97

    #23 Napoleon Harris
    Freshman • Forward
    6-4 • 215
    A walk-on who is a scholarship football player … Earned first collegiate start against Iowa … Has averaged 12.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in the last four games, including a career-high 18 points vs. OSU and 13 rebounds at Indiana … Led the ‘Cats in rebounding in four contests (at Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and vs. Iowa) … Played in 16 games and is averaging 4.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 14.1 mpg.
    High School Profile: 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 … Also was a basketball letterman.
    Season and Career Highs
    Points: 18 vs. Ohio State, 2/21/98
    Rebounds: 13 at Indiana, 2/14/98

    #10 Matt Kammrath
    Sophomore • Guard
    6-0 • 185
    Walk-on who earned the first start of his collegiate career at Purdue … Is averaging 3.3 minutes per game … Has played in 15 contests.

    #35 Aron Molnar
    Sophomore • Center
    6-11 • 242
    Tallied five double-figure scoring performances: a career-high 12 vs. Illinois, 11 points against Sam Houston State and Troy State, and 10 points vs. Md.-Eastern Shore and at Boston College … Also recorded a career-high seven rebounds and four assists vs. SHS … Has started in 11 of 22 games this season (18.8 mpg), after averaging just five minutes last year … Averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 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 12 points against Iowa and chipped in eight points and a career-high eight assists against Siena … Averaging 3.7 ppg … Played in 22 games and started in 10 contests.
    Season Highs
    Points: 14 vs. Troy State, 12/2/97
    Rebounds: 6 vs. Md.-Eastern Shore, 11/29/97
    Assists: 8 vs. Siena, 11/26/97; vs. Troy State, 12/2/97
    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
    Leads the Big Ten and is tied for sixth nationally in threes made per game (3.28, 83) … Set the NU single-season record for threes made (82) … Also ranks third in NU record book in threes attempted in a season (173) and is fifth in career three-pointers made … Started in 24 of 25 games this season … Did not start against Wofford because of an ankle injury … Has converted four or more threes in 10 games this season … Exploded for a career-high 24 points against Ohio State … Converted six of eight 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 … Has four 20+ point performances on the season: 24 vs. OSU; 22 vs. Indiana; 21 vs. DePaul; and 20 vs. Troy State … Has 17 double-figure scoring games on the season … Led the team in scoring against Troy State, Indiana, at Purdue (12 points) at Michigan (18 points) and at Indiana (15) … Grabbed a career-high seven rebounds at Illinois … Leads the team in three-point field goals made (82), attempted (173) and three-point field goal percentage (.474) … Averaging 12.6 ppg and 2.5 rpg.
    Season and Career Highs
    Points: 24 vs. OSU, 2/21/98
    Rebounds: 7 at Illinois, 2/18/98
    Assists: 4 vs. DePaul, 12/6/97; at Dayton, 12/18/97