SALT LAKE CITY — Scottie Lindsey is back.
Yeah, he's been back on the floor for a while now after a four-game, illness-induced absence at the beginning of February. But after going three weeks without any exercise, Northwestern's one-time leading scorer finally feels back to normal after a stellar trio of games at the Big Ten Tournament last week in Washington.
"I think Washington helped me get my conditioning back and my legs back, get my rhythm back, my shot back," Lindsey said Wednesday, a day before the Wildcats' first-ever NCAA tournament game. "It was definitely a good experience for me in Washington."
Getting Lindsey back to what he was doing earlier in the season is key for the Cats if they're going to make any kind of run in the NCAA tournament. They did make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, playing three games in three days all the way to the tournament semifinals — one of many firsts for this year's team — and getting 16-, 17- and 16-point efforts from Lindsey in the three games, respectively.
Entering the conference tournament, Lindsey had struggled to regain his shot out of that four-game absence. He scored in double figures just once and shot 27.5 percent from the field over a five-game stretch to close the regular season. What his production would be as Northwestern hit March was a mystery, but he stepped up in Washington, as did Vic Law, who after slumping a bit at the end of the regular season matched Lindsey's 33 combined points in the Cats' two wins in D.C.
Northwestern ran out gas in that tournament, getting thumped by Wisconsin in the aforementioned semifinals. But wins over Rutgers and Maryland were confidence boosters, especially in a year where the Cats finally have some more to play for.
Similarly, with three games in three days, Lindsey gained mental confidence that he's back physically. Good thing, too, because now it's time for the win-or-go-home games, where Northwestern will need Lindsey to produce if it's going to accomplish its goal of doing more than just showing up to the Big Dance.
"That whole tournament was a confidence-builder for me and the team," Lindsey said. "Despite how we lost to Wisconsin, getting those two wins was really big for us, and I think it will help us going into this game."