Big Ten

Scottie Lindsey shows how good he can be for Northwestern

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Scottie Lindsey shows how good he can be for Northwestern

Two weeks ago, Scottie Lindsey was benched.

Northwestern head coach Chris Collins sat his sophomore guard out of the Wildcats' game against Michigan State. Lindsey had not played well during Big Ten play up to that point, averaging a mere 3.8 points per game in the first eight conference games, going scoreless three times during that stretch.

Well, it's safe to say that Lindsey got the message.

Lindsey, a Hillside native, has been terrific ever since, scoring 49 points over the last four games including a sensational 18-point performance in Saturday night's 58-56 win over Illinois in Evanston.

Lindsey was 6-for-10 from the field and 4-for-7 from 3-point range, at one point in the second half hitting back-to-back triples that Illinois head coach John Groce called one of the biggest moments of the game.

But even more than those made shots, Collins liked a huge play at game's end, when Lindsey knocked the ball away from Illini big man Maverick Morgan. The turnover turned into a fastbreak layup for Tre Demps and extended a three-point Cats lead to five in the game's final minute.

[MORE BIG TEN: Tre Demps' hot streak pushes Northwestern past Illini]

“I thought Scottie Lindsey was huge tonight," Collins said after the game. "He’s such a big key for our team when he can come in and give us that kind of scoring and energy. He had a huge steal there with a minute to go when we were up three that led to Tre giving us a breakaway layup.

“I just thought he played well. I told him after the game, that’s what I see in him. That’s why I coach him hard because I see a guy that has a chance to be an outstanding player if he just continues to throw himself in, to keep working and playing with that kind of energy and life. I just thought he had a great floor game. The shots he made were huge, but his steal was one of the biggest plays of the game.”

While many believed this could have been the year that Northwestern finally made the NCAA tournament, what with a talented roster and a 12-1 non-conference mark, it looks like a lot of things would have to happen for the Cats to score an invite to the Big Dance. Northwestern has just a 5-8 record in Big Ten play, even after Saturday's win.

But the future remains bright. Collins keeps recruiting well, and next season is no exception, plus the Cats will return Vic Law, who suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason.

Lindsey will be a big part of that future. In the next two seasons, he's likely to be a key piece for Northwestern. And so that's what the benching against Michigan State was, a move for the future. This learning experience could be the lightbulb moment for the young Lindsey. And Collins thought maybe it was necessary.

“Obviously, no one likes to sit there and not play. As a coach, I didn’t want to have to do that, but I felt that was what he needed to maybe get that jolt that we were looking for," Collins said. "Fortunately for us, ever since that game he’s had a renewed fire and he’s really played well for us and was a huge reason why we won tonight.”

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Northwestern gear right here]

Yes, the move really seems to have worked.

“I just know that I have to bring more things to the table," Lindsey said. "I felt like at that time it was a stretch of games where I wasn’t doing everything I was supposed to to help my team. I just have to come out, play with a lot more energy and help the team out more.”

“He’s responded great," Demps said. "His work ethic has just gotten so much better, just with his drills, his cuts are so much more crisp. I think you’re seeing the fruit of his labor. He’s got to keep going on that path.”

So is next season the one where Northwestern finally makes the NCAA tournament? Or the one after that? Time will tell. But if Lindsey is pouring in the points in a March Madness game, remember this as the moment where things started going right.

"Scottie’s a talented player, and that’s why I recruited him," Collins said. "He has a huge upside, and he’s still just a sophomore. So I think he’s got a bright future, and we’re really committed to continuing to develop him and our program.”

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.