After Benching, Scottie Lindsey Responding Big for Northwestern

Coming into Northwestern’s January 28th game against Michigan State, the team was reeling a bit. They were in the midst of a three game losing streak and playing their third in four straight games against ranked opponents. A few days earlier, Indiana blew them out on the road 89-57 and shots were just not falling.

lindseyfeatureIn that game against the Spartans where Northwestern shot 20% from the field and 17% from three during another 76-45 blowout, Scottie Lindsey sat on the bench, still in his warm up gear.

When asked about Lindsey’s absence after the game, head coach Chris Collins kept it short.

“I just went with other guys tonight.”

That was it. No other explanation as to why the 6’5” sophomore didn’t see a minute of court time in a blow out loss.

In Collins’ defense, despite leading the team in three-point percentage, Lindsey was having an extremely underwhelming conference season. Leading up to the Michigan State game he was only averaging 3.3 points per game while shooting 35% from the field.

“I just knew I had to bring more things to the table,” Lindsey said of the benching. “I feel like at that time in those stretch of games I wasn’t doing everything I was supposed to to help the team so I had to come out and play with more energy and help the team out more.”

In the four games since that game against Michigan State, Lindsey has responded on both ends of the floor. He has averaged 12.3 points per game while shooting 58% from the field and came up with a game-changing steal to help seal their 58-56 victory over Illinois on Saturday night.

“That’s what I see in him and that’s why I coach him hard,” said Collins. “Because I see a guy who has a chance to be an outstanding player if he continues to just throw himself in.”

Lindsey played a season-high 30 minutes against Illinois, scoring 18 points on 6-10 shooting and 4-7 from behind the arc. Tre Demps and Lindsey combined for 27 of the 37 points Northwestern scored in the second half, and that big steal led to a lay up by Demps putting them up 58-53, just enough to stave off the Fighting Illini.

Losing Vic Law for the season was supposed to be Lindsey’s window to make a major impact on this team, but we saw very little of that at the start of the season. Collins thinks that benching might have been just what Lindsey needed to light a fire underneath him.

“Obviously no one likes to sit there and not play and as a coach I didn’t want to have to do that but I felt like that was what he needed to get that jolt that we were looking for.”

Northwestern still has five games left this season, but that is only the beginning for Lindsey. With Demps graduating after this season, Lindsey is in a position to step into that starting shooting guard role. If he can continue to build on his late-season success, Lindsey and fellow sophomore backcourt mate Bryant McIntosh could be a deadly duo for the next two years.

As Collins continues to work to rebuild this program, he will count on players like Lindsey to be instrumental in their success.

“Scottie’s a talented player and that’s why we recruited him,” said Collins. “I think he’s got a bright future and we’re really committed to continuing to develop him in our program.”

The way we’ve seen him play over these last four games is just the kind of flash Collins and company were looking for, not just for the rest of this season, but for the future of this basketball program.

Things don’t get much easier for the Wildcats, playing three of their next four games on the road, including their next big test Tuesday night against #17 Purdue.