Any team that finishes 333rd in the country in rebounding and 127th in blocked shots, as Northwestern did last season, is likely in desperate need of an interior presence.
The Wildcats may have found their man today, rounding out their 2012 recruiting class with the school's biggest addition ever - and we mean that literally.
Chier Ajou, the 7-foot-2 cousin of Bulls forward Luol Deng, has decided to join the Wildcats, becoming the tallest player in the school's history.
"The addition of Chier completes a terrific freshman class that we're very excited about," Northwestern head men's basketball coach Bill Carmody told NUSports.com. "He is an outstanding young man who is athletic, has great upside and is a good fit for our program. He'll provide our team with a dimension we haven't seen in a while."
The recruiting class Carmody is referring to includes incoming freshmen Kale Abrahamson, Sanjay Lumpkin and Alex Olah, as well as, transfers Jared Swopshire from Louisville and Nikola Cerina from TCU.
Northwestern returns 4 of 5 starters, and hopes to build on a successful 2011-12 season that saw the team fall just shy of making its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents.
That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?
The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room).
So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure.
Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return.
“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”
If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length.
Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16
On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.