‘Cats Net 2012 3-Star Guard, Mislav Brzoja Commits To NU;Admission Pending

Depth and Northwestern basketball have been mutually exclusive for most of my fandom. Not anymore. Scout.com and Rivals.com are both reporting that 6-4 guard, Mislav Brzoja of Traders Point Christian Academy in Indiana has committed to Northwestern, however it is not a done deal quite yet. Brzoja must still be admitted to the school and he is awaiting admissions decision (insert “only at Northwestern” here).  Brzoja had a pretty intense recruiting life cycle and was also courted by Kentucky, at one point being pointed to as Lamb’s replacement. Brzoja has settled on Dayton as his back-up school should he not be admitted to Northwestern.

If Brzoja’s high school rang a bell then you’ve been paying close attention. Brzoja was teammates with incoming freshman big man 6-11 Alex Olah.  Olah also had some hang-ups around admission, but his issue was tied to signing the proper paperwork in the proper commitment time period. It is no secret that Northwestern has often gone to the Serbian and Croatian talent well,which always intrigues the heck out of me. They seem like tailor-made sports is life beyond the court type feature stories for HBO Real Sports.  Well, Brzoja is a native of Croatia (born in 1994 to make you feel really old) and Olah is Serbian. The fact the two teammates are continuing to play together at the collegiate level makes this story that much richer.

Brzoja joins Olah and 6-7 Shurna-like build Kale Abrahamson (Valley (West Des Moines), IA) and 6-6 swingman Sanjay Lumpkin of Benide St. Margret’s (St. Louis Park, MN) as part of the four man incoming class. As we’ve noted before the incoming freshman class has talent and Olah and Abrahamson were expected to compete for minutes right away. The real joy in ‘Catville is around the injection of depth thanks to RS freshmen PG Tre Demps, who missed last year due to shoulder injury and F Michael Turner who took the year to develop.  Additionally, TCU transfer 6-9 F Nikola Cerina also will be eligible in 2012 after sitting out last year.  The above seven players will build around a core that includes Drew Crawford, JerShon Cobb, David Sobolewski and Reggie Hearn. Sharpshooting senior Alex Marcotullio also returns. The number one priority for this group is the weight room as many of our bigs are slender builds and even though they’ll likely flourish on offense in the Carmody system (several are solid outside shooters), we need the bulk on defense to tackle the B1G bigs. Oh yeah, there is so much freakin’ depth, I somehow forgot to mention one year wonder to be, Louisville transfer PF Jared Swopshire who is cleared to play instantly and could very easily start after graduating from Pitino’s camp and seeing his minutes diminish significantly with the increase in talent among the 2012 Final Four entrant.

Northwestern has already signed highly touted 6-8 F Milos Kostic of Bishop Knoll just over the border in Hammond, Indiana for the 2013 class. So, once again, Northwestern fans are getting lured back in based on the what ifs and there are a lot of them.  It is fair to say we will be using double digit players per game in 2012-2013 which is something I haven’t seen Bill Carmody do in his tenure. It will be fascinating to see the match-up combinations with so many options.  Again, Brzoja has not been admitted so as usual the enthusiasm needs temperment.

In Case You Missed It…

Northwestern will host the Maryland Terrapins on November 27 at Welsh-Ryan Arena as part of the B1G/ACC Challenge. Time and network are still TBD, but this is a good attendance get for the ‘Cats early on – a sexy program name that is average. The Terps went 17-15 last year and 6-10 in the conference. The ‘Cats are seeking their fifth straight “Challenge” victory and are looking to move to .500 in the annual event (currently 6-7). 


I’m currently in the process of a whole host of Q&As with 2012 opponent blogs like BC, Nebraska, Illinois and others. One of the primary drivers for me is to get you up to speed and psyched about the pretty sweet 2012 schedule and help you convince your friends that it is time to step up in to season tickets. Simply put, getting a single season ticket is the only way you can ensure going to the Nebraska and Iowa games, which will be two sellouts for certain. Plus, the individual cost of the Nebraska game is $75 per ticket – if you can even get one. I expect that game to sellout in less than five minutes once single season ticket sales go live. So, let’s get going and bring in some new fans to the season ticket mix. Who’s next? Send your tales of converting friends or +1-ing your own package to laketheposts@gmail.com .


  • rararawrgocats

    That’s great to hear about the new commits. This year’s roster will be the deepest in recent memory, even if a couple of the freshmen take redshirts.

  • Ithacacat

    There’s so much depth that you forgot to mention Jared Swopshire, the Louisville transfer. NU will have a lot of experience on the bench.

    • CM

      My thought exactly. When was the last time we had the problem of “so much depth we forgot to mention somebody?” Usually it’s, “can we name 7 who can actually take the floor tonight?”

  • Jimgocats93

    In honor of the NATO Summit NU should admit the young man immediately!
    Come on Admissions Dept. do your part for world peace.


  • Peter Skillz

    Just out of curiosity, why are you so certain the Iowa game will be a sellout? I know Iowa’s last visit, in 2010, sold out- and was one of the very few times I can remember demand greatly exceeding supply at Ryan Field- but that was the first sellout versus Iowa since 1995.

    • Lake The Posts

      Iowa’s road travel has been consistently solid and I’m confident the uptick in NU-Iowa performance has increased the draw of this game. Bottom-line, Iowa fans feel this is no longer a gimme and need to be there, plus they know they can get tix. Also told by insiders they expect it to sellout.

  • db

    You also left out Swopshire…a bunch of thoughts on this:

    1) Someone is getting redshirted, maybe even 2 guys. 10-11 man rotations don’t work, and it doesnt make sense to burn eligibility years if guys aren’t going to play especially when your history is that some years you cant field a team. Nice problem to have, but it is going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

    2) Absent injury, guys that can’t/won’t redshirt:

    Candidates to redshirt, because they are freshman or otherwise:
    Abrhamson – my bet is this guy or lumpkin…just filled up on the wing right now
    Brzoja – if dayton is ready to take him, i assume he is a top 2 PG for us?
    Marcotulio – highly unlikely, but if he got hurt in pre-season could make sense
    Sobolewski? – see later point…can you really play him if he slipped to 3rd deep on PG chart (not saying he will, but if demps is for real and the frosh is big and can play?

    3) Turner just isn’t going to play. If they shirted him last year when your 6th man was a walk-on, he isn’t cracking this line-up. Makes shirting him last year even more of a ridiculous situation than it already was.

    4) The new signee, if he is admitted, is a real wildcard. The article I read says he was told to compete for the starting PG position. If that is true, and the kid can play, I would like to hear the argument for not starting a 6’5″ point guard over sobo, who really had a disastrous end of year. This also has ramifications for Demps, who could easily be 3 deep at PG and never see the court, again, if this kid can play.

    5) So maybe your 2 lowest players arent going to play and can’t redshirt (turner and demps) so the others dont need to and fill out the 10 deep. But if Turner or Demps are very strong out of the box, and/or any of the freshmen, sobo, or marco get dinged up, you have to redshirt someone to preserve depth that otherwise will get burned up.

    6) It’s amazing how things come together when you actually hold your coach acountable for his record and performance, and don’t allow him to lean on a century of uninformed/indifferent alumni, ineptitude and dated, not-applicable excuses for his garbage record. Would have been nice if Murphy would have ventured into the land of accountability half a decade ago on his stopover up to title town.

    • wcgrad

      Nice analysis, but … where does Reggie Hearn fit in? He seems like we would still be as good as anyone we have as a 6th man, even if he doesn’t start.

      • Db

        I read the list 5 times and knew I left someone out. Reggie is a senior and it would be unusual to shirt a senior, but aren’t so many of these guys the same player?

        Also if the freshman gets admitted that’s now 13, and I think at least 1 has to sit down.

        Also, has there ever been a team so “deep” where no one actually has any idea if any of these guys are good? What do we know other than speculation about anyone other than Crawford, and role guys like Marco and Hearn? Are 2 games by Cobb enough to assume? Are we counting on sobo after that meltdown? What can demps give you? How good could the traders players be if their high school team wasn’t even top 75 in Indiana? Cerina and swopshire are athletes, but they’ve never really put it together.

        I think this year is going to be fascinating. They could use an Italy trip to get an early read, or I guess for carmody to cut someone. Unfortunately no all big ten guys to cut besides drew.

    • Chasmo

      Let’s make the case for why NO ONE redshirts this year.
      Carmody gains nothing by doing so. If all six kids in the frosh class are good enough to contribute, no coach whose seat is still warm will be worrying about his lineup four years from now when he might not even be around in 2016. It’s not in his best interests to redshirt anyone who can contribute.
      The Cats have been plagued with injuries in seasons past which have taken players out of the rotation for a few games to an entire season. Key players played hurt because of lack of depth and their games suffered as a consequence. Anyone who is good enough to play should play even if it’s just spot duty.
      The Cats have worn down for stretches of every season under Carmody and if all 12 guys can play, he can rest some of his better players against lesser teams rather than have them play 35 minutes as in years past.
      If the Cats continue to win they will continue to be able to recruit talented kids. Years ago redshirting might have seemed like a good move because there was no confidence NU would be able to sign competent players in the future so holding on to a kid for an extra year seemed like a good idea. But if the Cats continue to improve and make the NCAA tournament, they will be able to sign more talented incoming frosh than any fifth year guy they would still have on the roster by redshirting one of this year’s recruits.
      Carmody needs to replace Shurna’s scoring and rebounding by committee because no one player will be as good as he was. Any scorer and/or rebounder will play.
      Let them all play. The future is now.

      • Db

        1 – you can’t play 12 guys, it doesn’t work. They’ll all get frustrated and you won’t optimize performance.

        2 – you can intend to redshirt, then pull it if you have injuries. The guy practices full time, it’s not like he’s on ice.

        3 – it would make zero sense to play all these guys 2 mins a game for the sake of it, and burn their eligibility. Its not just the freshmen, it may make sense to think abt it for an upperclassman which is near term, not 2016.

        4 – I forgot Hearn. That’s 13, pretty sure you can’t dress 13 anyway.

  • hudhaifa

    Ty Isaac….Malin Jones backfield mate at Joliet Catholic committed to USC…

  • Ron

    In all honesty, I come here only to read about football. And when the title said that we’d signed a “guard”, I was hoping for a lineman. But I could tell by the ethnicity of the name, and knowing who we (always) sign, that it was a basketball player, not football.

    Just the mere fact that we won’t have to forfeit a game if 2 or 3 guys foul out doesn’t seem much cause for celebration. We’re going back to the same well for more Eastern European guys from the same 2 high schools; if past performance is any indication of future capability, it is highly questionable whether they are of big ten caliber. When even LTP has to strain to call our new “big men”, “slender”, in order to say something positive, I’m not left chomping at the bit.

  • HudyBlitz

    It’s a pretty safe bet that at least 2 of the 4 frosh will be redshirted before the conference schedule begins. There’s no way BC plays 4 freshmen when he is starting the season with as much, if not more, depth as he’s ever had in Evanston.

  • Make Some Noyes

    Isn’t Olah Romanian, not Serbian?

  • mdoty

    I don’t think any of these guys are that good and I don’t see us making the NCAA tournament with them.