February 3, 1999
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Wildcats look to win their fourth-straight home game as NU hosts Michigan on Thursday night. Northwestern is coming off a 65-48 loss at eighth-ranked Michigan State last Saturday.
MSU opened the game with a 7-0 lead, however NU answered with an 8-0 run of its own to hold a 8-7 lead at the 15:05 mark. The Spartans then rattled off an 18-2 run and would eventually own a 39-23 margin at halftime. The Wildcats hung in during the second half, closing the gap to 11 points (50-39) midway through the period, but MSU emerged victorious.
Evan Eschmeyer paced NU with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Aron Molnar had one of his best performances to date, recording 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He also grabbed two rebounds, both on the offensive end of the floor, blocked a shot and had two steals off the bench.
Northwestern Wildcats (12-6, 4-4 Big Ten)
vs. Michigan Wolverines (9-13, 3-6 Big Ten)
Thur., Feb. 4, 1999 -- 7 p.m. CST
Radio: WGN AM 720
TV: ESPN Regional (none in Chicago)
Northwestern-Michigan, The Series
This will be the 137th all-time meeting between the two schools, and the only time they will meet during the 1998-99 regular season. UM holds an 89-47 series lead.
The last NU win in the series was a 97-93 overtime win in Welsh-Ryan Arena on March 12, 1994. That victory pushed the 'Cats overall record to 14-13 and helped secure the school's second-ever postseason berth.
Wildcat Probable Starters
Pos. No. Name (height, weight, class, hometown) ppg rpg
F #33 Tavaras Hardy (6-8, 210, Fr., Joliet, Ill.) 7.3 4.5
C #42 Evan Eschmeyer (6-11, 255, Sr.-6, New Knoxville, Ohio) 19.8 10.9
G #4 Julian Bonner (6-1, 198, Sr., Detroit, Mich.) 4.4 2.8
G #22 Sean Wink (6-2, 176, So., Brea, Calif.) 9.3 2.1
G #24 David Newman (5-11, 165, Fr., Des Moines, Iowa) 8.8 2.1
Off the bench
F #5 Joe Harmsen (6-9, 248, Sr., Fond du Lac, Wis.) 0.8 1.7
G #10 Matt Kammrath (6-0, 185, Jr., Boca Raton, Fla.) 0.0 0.3
F #11 Danny Allouche (6-5, 200, Sr., Omer, Israel) 3.1 1.9
F #14 Steve Lepore (6-5, 200, Fr., North Olmstead, Ohio) 5.3 3.7
G #31 Nate Pomeday (6-2, 201, Sr., Cedar Grove, Wis.) 1.4 0.9
G #32 Collier Drayton (6-1, 175, Fr., Lyons, N.Y.) 0.0 3.0
C #35 Aron Molnar (6-11, 242, Jr., Mississauga, Ontario) 2.6 2.3
G #44 Jeff Eschmeyer (6-2, 192, So., New Knoxville, Ohio) 0.0 0.3
Head Coach Kevin O'Neill
Kevin O'Neill (McGill, 1979) is in his second season at the helm of the Wildcat basketball program. This is his 11th season as head coach at the Division I level and 13th overall as a collegiate head coach. He also has served as head coach at North Country CC (1980-82), Marycrest (1982-83), Marquette (1989-94) and Tennessee (1994-97).
O'Neill owns a 22-23 record at NU and a 162-143 record as a Division I head coach.
Known as one of the best recruiters in the nation, O'Neill resurrected the Marquette and Tennessee programs, taking two teams which had not enjoyed recent success to postseason play.
Eschmeyer Named National Player of the Year Finalist
Evan Eschmeyer has been named one of 10 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Award, presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association to the National Player of the Year. The winner will be announced March 28 at the Final Four in St. Petersburg, Fla.
On December 29, he was named to the mid-season top 30 team for the John Wooden Award, which is presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club to the national player of the year. Eschmeyer was one of only two true centers to earn a spot on the list (Washington's Todd MacCulloch).
Best Big Ten Start Since 1967-68
The turnaround of the Wildcat program under head coach Kevin O'Neill is making a dent in the Wildcat history books.
This marks the first time since the 1967-68 season the Wildcats have started a Big Ten season at 4-4. The 1967-68 squad finished 13-10 overall and fourth in the Big Ten at 8-6. Also, the 'Cats own a 12-6 overall mark for the first time since 1982-83.
The Nation's Top Defense
The 'Cats continue to hold the NCAA's No. 1 ranking in field goal percentage defense. NU enters the Michigan game holding opponents to .363 shooting from the field. NU is second in the Big Ten and fifth in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing just 55.7 points per game.
Northwestern also leads the Big Ten in three-point field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot just .280 from beyond the arc. Here's what NU has done to some opposing offenses this season:
Held Oakland, currently averaging 10.1 threes per game, to just three three-pointers.
Held #21 Iowa (76 ppg entering the game) to just 52 points.
Held #16 Minnesota (74 ppg entering game) to 55 points. Also held UM to .311 shooting (.486 entering game).
Held UT-Pan Am's Brian Merriweather, who entered the game as the nation's leading scorer at 25.3 ppg, to just 14 points.
Held St. Francis' Ray Minlend, currently second in the NCAA in scoring at 24.5 ppg, to just 11 points.
Eschmeyer Leads the Big Ten -- Times Three
Evan Eschmeyer currently stands atop the Big Ten in three statistical categories: rebounds (10.9 rpg), field goal percentage (.602) and double-doubles (11). He also is third in the Big Ten in scoring (19.8 ppg).
According to the latest NCAA stats, "Esch" ranks fifth in rebounding, 12th in field goal percentage and 37th in scoring. He enters the Michigan game with 40 career double-doubles and has scored in double figures 59-straight games.
More on Eschmeyer
Evan Eschmeyer has scored 982 career points against Big Ten Conference competition. With 18 points on Thursday night, he would become just the second Wildcat ever, and the 57th in conference history, to record 1,000 Big Ten points. Billy McKinney is the only NU player to accomplish the feat.
On January 13, he recorded just the second triple-double in program history with his 27-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist performance at Indiana. It also was the first-ever triple-double posted in IU's Assembly Hall.
In the Jan. 27 USA Today, Eschmeyer was named to their mid-season All-America first team and described as "the most productive player in the nation's best conference." CNN/SI also named him to their midseason All-America team on Jan. 25.
He has been named Big Ten Player of the Week twice this season. On Dec. 28, he was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week after recording double-doubles in NU's games against Boston College (23p, 10r) and Long Beach State (16p, 13r). On Jan. 11, he earned the honor again after leading NU to wins at 16th-ranked Minnesota (24p, 15r) and at Illinois (16p, 17r, 5a).
Eschmeyer's league-leading 11 double-doubles is more than twice as many as his closest Big Ten competitor. IU's William Gladness is second in the conference with five double-doubles.
Eschmeyer Sets NU Career Rebound Mark
With his 15 points against MSU, Evan Eschmeyer moved into second on the all-time NU scoring chart. Eschmeyer needs just 15 blocked shots to break the NU career blocks record and 19 free throws to become the Wildcats all-time leader in that category. Here's where Eschmeyer currently ranks among NU's all-time career leaders:
Category Eschmeyer Next Up
FG Pct. 1st - .600 ---
FT Attempts 1st - 750 ---
Rebounds 1st - 900 ---
FT Made 2nd - 476 Cedric Neloms (494)
Scoring 2nd - 1,594 Billy McKinney (1,900)
Blocked Shots 3rd - 119 Jim Pitts (123), Kevin Rankin (133)
Field Goals 3rd - 559 Jim Stack (623), Billy McKinney (768)
Recent Rumblings About Eschmeyer
Many coaches and media have started to take notice of Northwestern's National Player of the Year Candidate Evan Eschmeyer, including CNN/SI and USA Today, both of which named Esch to their midseason All-America teams. Here's a sampling of what's appeared within the last couple of weeks:
"Eschmeyer is the man to beat for MVP." -- Gary Reinmuth, Chicago Tribune (February 3)
"Evan Eschmeyer is my pick for Big Ten Player of the Year. Kevin O'Neill has helped develop him into a well-balanced player on both sides of the court." -- Digger Phelps, ESPN (February 2)
"He's why Northwestern...is in good shape for its first NCAA tournament berth." -- Rob Miech, CBS Sportsline (January 29)
"Northwestern is efficient...playing the inside-outside game with Evan Eschmeyer, who averages 20 points and 10 rebounds despite being double-, triple- and quadruple-teamed in the paint." -- Chris Altruda, Sportsticker (January 29)
"He's the best center in the Big Ten, if not the country." -- Purdue head coach Gene Keady (January 27)
"The most productive player in the nation's best conference." -- USA Today (January 27)
"Eschmeyer has really got to be a good kid because he helps everybody else and takes advantage of what he has offensively." -- Indiana head coach Bob Knight (January 13)
Check out Bonner's Defense
Senior guard Julian Bonner has drawn quite a few tough defensive assignments this season. Already, he has held the nation's top two scorers in check. Ray Minlend of St. Francis, who currently leads the NCAA at 24.9 ppg, scored just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting. Brian Merriweather of Texas Pan-Am, second in the NCAA at 24.5 ppg, scored just 14 points on 5-of-23 shooting.
Among the other guards he's kept off the scoreboard were MSU's Mateen Cleaves (seven points, 2-9 FG) and Seton Hall's Shaheen Holloway (nine points, 3-10 FG).
Wink Among Big Ten Three-Point Leaders
Entering the week, sophomore guard Sean Wink ranks fourth in the Big Ten in three pointers made, averaging 2.56 per game. He also ranks fifth in three-point percentage (.400). For his career, Wink is shooting .436 (132-303) from three-point range. His 132 career threes rank second in NU history. Todd Leslie holds the all-time Wildcat record with 203 treys.
Against Boston College, Wink hit 6-of-12 from three-point range, marking the fifth time in his brief NU career that he has hit six three-pointers. All five of those games have come at home. Wink also hit five three-pointers this season against Long Beach State and four at Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana. NU, as a team, is second in the Big Ten in three pointers, averaging 6.9 per game.
ESPN has selected the Northwestern at Iowa men's basketball game as one of its "wildcard" selections. The game will now take place on Tue., Feb. 23, and will tipoff at 6:30 p.m. CST. ESPN will broadcast the game to a national audience. The contest originally was scheduled for 7 p.m. on February 24.
Senior guard Nate Pomeday is out after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee during the first half of the Texas Pan-Am game. Pomeday will undergo aggressive rehabilitation in an attempt to have him back for the Big Ten Tournament. He is sixth in the NU record book with 67 career three-pointers.
NU has either been tied or led at halftime in 16 of 18 games this season. Only Indiana and Michigan State have led at the break, both of which were road contests for the Wildcats. NU has never trailed at halftime in 13 home games this season.
Julian Bonner enters the UM game with 260 career assists, seventh in NU history. Kip Kirkpatrick is sixth with 263, with Jim Stack in fifth (270) and Kevin Rankin (271) in fourth place.
Home Court Advantage
In Kevin O'Neill's two seasons as head coach, the Wildcats have made Welsh-Ryan Arena a tough place to play. NU has a 20-9 (.690) home court record under O'Neill, which is a marked improvement considering that, in the three seasons prior to O'Neill's arrival in Evanston, NU won just 14 home games. This marks the first time in school history that NU has recorded back-to-back seasons of 10-or-more home victories.
Big Ten Stat Leaders
Here's where the 'Cats rank among the Big Ten and NCAA stat leaders (Big Ten as of Feb. 2, NCAA as of Feb. 2):
Individual - All Games
Scoring: Evan Eschmeyer - 3rd Big Ten, 31st NCAA (19.8 ppg)
Rebounds: Evan Eschmeyer - 1st Big Ten, 7th NCAA (10.9 rpg)
FG Pct.: Evan Eschmeyer - 1st Big Ten, 12th NCAA (.602)
Double-Doubles: Evan Eschmeyer - 1st Big Ten (11)
FT Pct.: Evan Eschmeyer - 11th (.738)
3pt Made: Sean Wink - 4th (2.56 tpg)
3pt Pct.: Sean Wink - 5th (.400)
Blocks: Evan Eschmeyer - 4th (1.9 bpg)
Offensive Rebs: Evan Eschmeyer - 1st (3.7 orpg)
Defensive Rebs: Evan Eschmeyer - 1st (7.2 drpg)
Team - All Games
3pt Pct. Defense: 1st (.280)
FG Pct. Defense: 1st Big Ten, 1st NCAA (.363)
3pt FG Made: 2nd (6.9 tpg)
Scoring Defense: 2nd Big Ten, 5th NCAA (55.7 ppg)
Rebound Margin: 2nd (+4.5 rpg)
3pt Pct. Offense: 3rd (.368)
Blocked Shots: 4th (3.8 bpg)
Assists: 5th (15.8 apg)
Asst/TO Ratio: 5th (1.00-to-1)
During the November early signing period, the Wildcats signed five players to National Letters of Intent to begin playing basketball at NU next season:
Winston Blake (F, 6-5, 180, Plano, Texas/Plano Senior)
Brody Deren (F, 6-7, 223, Harlan, Iowa/Harlan Comm.)
Aaron Jennings (C, 6-11, 200, Atkins, Iowa/Benton Comm.)
Ben Johnson (G, 6-3, 180, Minneapolis, Minn./De La Salle)
Adam Robinson (F, 6-10, 210, Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls)
Johnson (No. 60) and Blake (No. 95) are each ranked among the top 100 players in the country by Bob Gibbons. Deren was "Southwest Iowa Player of the Year" as a junior, while Jennings and Robinson were both named All-Americans this season by various publications.
The Wildcats will wear a patch on the left corner of their shorts for the remainder of the season bearing the initials "D.P." The patch is in memory of Don Pomeday, father of senior guard Nate Pomeday, who passed away on December 9.
The Kevin O'Neill Show
Once again this season, Fox Sports Chicago will air "The Kevin O'Neill Show." Dave Eanet, play-by-play announcer for NU football and basketball on WGN radio, hosts the half-hour show. The next show airs Tue., Feb. 9, at 3:30 p.m. CST and replayed that night at 2 a.m. CST.
#4 Julian Bonner - Has started the past 11 games after coming off the bench in the first seven ... Started every game last season at point guard ... Hit the game-winning three pointer against St. Francis with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock ... Also hit a running jumper with 0.6 seconds left in overtime to defeat Penn State ... Ranks seventh in NU history with 260 career assists ... Needs four assists to move into sixth, 11 assists to move into fifth and 12 assists to move into fourth all-time ... Ranks fifth in NU history with 97 career three pointers.
#5 Joe Harmsen - Reserve power forward/center ... Grabbed season-high four rebounds against Oakland, Dayton and Seton Hall.
#10 Matt Kammrath - Walk-on ... Saw game action vs. Oakland, UWM and UT-Pan Am this season ... Lone rebound came vs. UT-Pan Am.
#11 Danny Allouche - Tallied season-bests of seven points vs. UWM and UT-Pan Am ... Collected season-best five rebounds against Long Beach State ... Reserve forward ... Sat out last season after transferring from Missouri.
#14 Steve Lepore - Started the first seven games ... Hit three three-pointers at Minnesota and at Indiana ... Had six boards in the win at Illinois ... Hit a running jumper with eight seconds left against Penn State to send the game into overtime ... Hit both free throws with three seconds left to seal the win against No. 14 Purdue.
#22 Sean Wink - NU's top three-point threat ... Has hit 132 career three pointers, second-most in NU history ... Hit six three-pointers against Boston College, tying his career best ... Also nailed five three-pointers against Long Beach State and four treys on four other occasions ... Is 17-of-36 (.472) from three-point range against Big Ten competition this year ... Set the NU single-season three-point mark (86) last season as a freshman.
#24 David Newman - Starting point guard as a true freshman ... Tallied a season-best 22 points and five rebounds against Furman ... Dished eight assists in his collegiate debut against Maine ... Has come through in several clutch situations this season, especially from the free-throw line in the final minute.
#31 Nate Pomeday - Suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during the first half against Texas Pan-American ... Will undergo rehab as NU hopes to have him back in time for the Big Ten Tournament ... Reserve shooting guard ... Plays with a lot of heart and emotion ... One of the team's most vocal leaders ... Hit at least one three pointer in four of his last nine games, all coming off the bench.
#32 Collier Drayton - Extremely quick athlete ... Is a stronger defensive player than offensive ... Grabbed three rebounds in seven minutes against Oakland.
#33 Tavaras Hardy - Scored in double figures three of his first five collegiate games ... Tallied first career double-double (18p, 10r) vs. Oakland ... Has a nice outside touch from about 15-feet ... Had 13 points at Indiana, his highest point total since the Oakland game.
#35 Aron Molnar - Backup center ... Vastly improved in all facets of his game ... Tied his career best with seven boards against Penn State ... Posted season-best 10 points, on 5-of-9 shooting, at Michigan State ... Pulled down five rebounds in 15 minutes against Oakland and five boards in 10 minutes against Boston College ... Also had three boards in nine minutes against Dayton.
#42 Evan Eschmeyer - National Player of the Year candidate ... One of only two true centers on the mid-season top candidate list for the Wooden Award ... Finalist for the Oscar Robertson Award ... Ranks among the nation's leaders with 11 double-doubles this season, including a triple-double at Indiana ... Has scored 20-or-more points in eight games this season ... Also ranks among the Big Ten leaders in free throw percentage (11th, .738) ... Enters the UM game having scored in double-figures 59-straight games ... Has 40 career double-doubles.
#44 Jeff Eschmeyer - Younger brother of Evan Eschmeyer ... Walked onto the squad last season ... Saw action against Oakland, UWM and UT-Pan Am ... Lone rebound came vs. UWM.