April 16, 1998
Wildcats Posts Most Home Victories Since 1983
The Wildcats finished the 1997-98 season with a 10-17 overall record and a 3-13 mark in the Big Ten regular-season. The 'Cats wrapped up their season with a 64-56 loss to Minnesota at the inaugural Big Ten Tournament in Chicago, Ill. All-America candidate Evan Eschmeyer tallied his 19th double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Napoleon Harris (13 points) and junior Julian Bonner (11 points) also scored in double figures for the 'Cats. NU finished the regular season with a 10-17 overall record and a 3-13 mark in the Big Ten Conference regular-season.
Eschmeyer, who earned All-Big Ten honors for the second-straight season, finished second in the Big Ten Conference in overall scoring (21.7 ppg), first in rebounding (10.7 rpg) and was third in field goal percentage (.610). Wink, who led the Big Ten in three-pointers made per game (3.19), finished second on the NU team in scoring (12.1 ppg), while junior Julian Bonner was third in points per game (9.0 ppg) and first in assists (4.1 apg).
Head Coach Kevin O'Neill: During Kevin O'Neill's first season as NU's head coach, the Wildcats made significant strides.
* The 'Cats victories in Big Ten play were the most since the 1993-94 season and, for the first time in 15 years, NU won 10 games at home.
* The 'Cats posted the third-best field goal percentage in school history (.474) and the fifth-best three-point field goal percentage (.379).
* NU tied or outrebounded 22 of its 27 opponents, including 13 of 17 Big Ten opponents.
* In addition, the 'Cats 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.
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 150-137 record in 10 seasons.
Coming Back for a Sixth Year: Evan Eschmeyer was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and will use that to play for the Wildcats next season. Eschmeyer did not play during his first two seasons at NU due to a recurring injury in his right foot
Evan Eschmeyer was one of only two Division I players to be ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring (13th), rebounding (11th, tie) and field goal percentage (11th). The other was 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. He also was named to the District IV Team.
All-America candidate Evan Eschmeyer is one of only four NU players to have scored more than 1,000 points (1,237) and grabbed more than 700 rebounds (703).
One For the Record Books: Evan Eschmeyer set the Wildcat single-season scoring record with 585 points in 1998. Eschmeyer broke Dale Kelley's mark of 583 points set in 1970.
A Consistent Threat: Evan Eschmeyer has recorded 41-consecutive double-figure scoring games dating back to the 1996-97 season. He set the NU record for consecutive double-figure scoring games which was held by Billy McKinney (26).
20/20 Vision: Esch scored 20 or more points in 15 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, Minnesota and vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore and Wofford, 23 points vs. Minnesota (Big Ten Tournament) and Siena and 20 vs. Chicago State and Sam Houston State. He now has 21 20-point or more outings in his career.
Eschmeyer also has shot over 60 percent in 14 contests this season.
Seeing Double: With his 23-point, 10-rebound performance against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament, Esch recorded a double-double in 19 games in 1997-98.
Esch recorded a double-double in 12 of 17 Big Ten tilts.
The Eschmeyer Report: Evan Eschmeyer has made his way onto various lists in the NU record books. Esch ranks 10th in career scoring (1,237), sixth in career rebounds (703), first in career field goal percentage (.599), third in career free throw attempts (586), fifth in career free throws made (355) and third in career blocked shots (84). If that's not enough, he also is first in single-season points (585), third in single-season rebounds (290), first in single-season free throws made (185) and attempted (302).
A 1,000-Point Scorer: Evan Eschmeyer became the 22nd player in Northwestern history to score 1,000 points. Eschmeyer now has 1,237 points in his NU career, good for 10th 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 combined for 56 percent of the Wildcat offense in 1998.
Sean Wink 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 (86 threes). Entering the Ohio State game on Feb. 21, 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 (.457) and second in single-season three attempts (188).
Leader of Pack: Sean Wink led the Big Ten in three-pointers made per game (3.19) and was third in three-point field goal percentage (.457) and threes attempted (188). He scored in double-figures in 17 contests and averaged 12.1 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 109 field goals this season, 86 were three-pointers (79 percent). His 86 threes were tied for second in the Big Ten.
Wink finished 18th nationally in threes made per game and 20th in three-point field goal percentage.
A Linebacker on the Basketball Court: Freshman walk-on Napoleon Harris, who is a scholarship football player, was a vital member of the NU basketball team. Overall, he played in 18 games and is averaged 4.9 points, 5.1 rebounds in 15.4 minutes. He led the 'Cats in rebounding in three games in 1998 (at Penn State, eight; at Purdue, nine; and at Indiana, 11). He tallied career highs in points (18) against Ohio State and rebounds (13) at Indiana.
The Iron Men: Julian Bonner, director of the NU offense, averaged a team-high 34.8 minutes per game (39.4 Big Ten). Bonner played 39 or more minutes in 17 games. Evan Eschmeyer and Sean Wink were right behind him with averages of 37.6 and 33.7 mpg, respectively, and 38.4 and 34.8 mpg in Big Ten play. Esch played 39 or more minutes in 13 games.
An Outside Compliment:
Julian Bonner, who averaged 9.0 ppg, was a steady contributor to the NU offense. He scored in double-figures in 12 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, vs. Minnesota (Big Ten Tournament)
- 10 points at Boston College
Bonner also led the team in assists (4.1 apg) and posted a career-high nine assists against Michigan State, Chicago State and DePaul.
Also In the Record Books: Both Julian Bonner and Nate Pomeday have made their way into the Wildcat record books. Bonner is seventh in career three-pointers made (84), fourth in threes attempted (269) and 10th in career assists (215). He also is ninth in single-season three-point attempts (110) and fifth in single-season assists (111). Pomeday is sixth in career threes made (85) and sixth in treys attempted (245).
'Cats in the Conference Rankings: The Wildcats finished among the top five teams in the conference in the following categories (all game stats):
Team: 1st, rebounding defense (27.3); 3rd, rebounding margin (+6.2); 3rd, scoring defense (63.9); 4th, three-point field goal percentage (.379); 4th, defensive rebounds (23.70); and 5th field goal percentage (.474).
Evan Eschmeyer: 1st, rebounds (10.7 rpg); 1st, offensive rebounds (3.70); 1st, defensive rebounds (7.04); 2nd, scoring (21.7 ppg); and 3rd, field goal percentage (.610).
Sean Wink: 1st, three-point field goals made per game (3.19); 2nd, threes made (86); and 3rd, three-point field goal percentage (.457).
'Cats In the National Ranks: The Wildcats finished in the national statistics in the following categories: Team: 15th, rebounding margin and 28th field goal percentage.
Evan Eschmeyer: 11th(t), rebounding; 11th, field goal percentage and 13th, scoring.
Sean Wink: 18th, threes made per game and 20th, three-point field goal percentage.
'Cats Sign Four to National Letters of Intent: Tavaras Hardy (Joliet, Ill./Providence), Steve Lepore (North Olmsted, Ohio/St. Edward), David Newman (Des Moines, Iowa/Herbert Hoover) and Collier Drayton (Lyons, N.Y./Lyons) 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.
Drayton (6-3, 180) has spent the last year at New Hampton Prep School in New Hampshire, where he averaged 12.5 ppg. Prior to that, Drayton attended Lyons High School where he was ranked one of the top 25 players in the state by USA Today. The two-time Wayne County Player of the Year, Drayton averaged 23 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals as a senior, including a 35-point career-high performance. He was a two-time All-Greater Rochester pick, while earning first-team all-state honors in 1997 and second-team accolades in 1996. He was twice named to the Section V All-Tournament team and was named the tournament MVP in 1997. Drayton also participated in the Ronald McDonald High School All-Star Game.
Drayton chose Northwestern over North Carolina State, Richmond and North Carolina-Wilmington.
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.