With the recent addition of Jared Swopshire, the outlook for the 2012-2013 Northwestern basketball team just got a whole lot brighter.
Northwestern's 2011-12 basketball season ended in misery, as hopes of a first-ever bid to the NCAA tournament came crashing down with a disappointing first-round loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
Combine that with John Shurna, Luka Mirkovic and Davide Curletti all being lost to graduation, and feelings about this team going into next season were mixed.
Key pieces are back in Drew Crawford, Dave Sobolewski and Reggie Hearn, but the losses of Mirkovic and Curletti leave a gaping hole in the frontcourt.
Who will provide a big body presence down low? Who will snag rebounds and at least be a threat to block shots?
Well, Northwestern has found their answer in Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire.
His numbers from last season may not be too impressive, as he only played 13 minutes per game, but look at the big men he was playing behind: shot-blocking sensation Gorgui Dieng and freshman phenom Chane Behanan.
He missed the 2010-2011 season due to injury, but it's hard to ignore what he did the year before that. As a sophomore, Swopshire played 25 minutes a game and averaged over six rebounds per game.
Northwestern would probably take those numbers in a heartbeat, seeing as how only two players on last year's team averaged over four rebounds a game.
Due to the transfer graduate degree program, Swopshire will be eligible immediately.
He'll almost assuredly be a starter in what looks to be a solid starting five, even without John Shurna.
There is no doubt that this will be Drew Crawford's team, as he'll be the senior leader and best player on this team, but his surrounding cast actually isn't too bad.
Dave Sobolewski will only get better and better at point guard, and he is turning into one of the best in the Big Ten.
JerShon Cobb looks like he has star potential, as he really came on late last season. Role players Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio aren't going to take over games with their scoring ability, but they can definitely be counted on to put up a few points.
Obviously Swopshire will provide a much-needed presence down low, as will incoming freshmen Kale Abrahamson and Alex Olah if they don't redshirt.
Yes, losing the school's all time leading scorer in John Shurna obviously hurts, but I don't think this team will take much of a step back.
Jared Swopshire could be just what this team needed to finally get them into the NCAA tournament.
However, I think they will once again be on the bubble at the end of the regular season, a place that Wildcat fans are all too familiar with.
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