From new diets to new offenses, Northwestern basketball is undergoing a complete overhaul, junior Dave Sobolewski told North by Northwestern. Now a two-year veteran, Sobolewski said he realizes the added responsibility he has to lead this team into its "NU" era.
In September, you were named a co-captain with Drew [Crawford]. What does it mean to you that you were elected by your teammates and that you’re sharing that role with Drew?
It meant a ton to me, just to know that my teammates trust me as a leader and a captain of this group. And it also means that I have to step up my responsibilities and make sure our team shows up everyday to get better in practice, so it was definitely an honor for me and I took it to heart and made sure that I did something about it.
You have a new coach this season and have graduated a lot of the team leaders and seniors. Taking that into account, what’s going to be different about this season?
Everything’s going to be different about this season. Obviously, like you mentioned, we have a new coaching staff. It’s just from one extreme to another. These coaches have implemented all their own systems and principles and all of that. So it’s been an adjustment for us but we really feel like we’ve been making a lot of big strides lately, so we’re ready to play some other competition besides ourselves.
How would you say Coach [Chris] Collins’ coaching style is different from Coach [Bill] Carmody’s?
In just about every way possible. The offensive scheme is completely different. We’re not running the Princeton anymore. The defensive principles are different. Off the court is different. Film sessions are different. Weight-lifting is different, so really in just about every aspect of the game or of the program, even, he’s made a change.
What are some of the team goals that Coach Collins always talks about and what are some of your personal ones as a player?
As a team, I know he’s talked about, he’s trying to build a championship program here. To be the first group would be pretty special if we could make something out of it. So that’s what our team is looking to do is do something special here for Coach Collins in his first team. Personally, I just want to help – like we talked about – lead this group to places the program’s never been before. It’d be awesome to start the new era of Coach Collins and start it off on the right foot, so that’s really what I’m looking to do as a player.
What are some of your predictions for the season?
Obviously, we have some really high expectations and we’re looking to do some special things. So we’re just taking it one day at a time and trying to get better each day. We have to realize it’s a long season, so if we can get better each day, we’ll be playing some good basketball.
Who do you think your toughest opponent in the Big Ten is going to be?
The thing about the Big Ten is there are no easy games, so every game’s going to be tough, be it Indiana, Michigan or Michigan State, even the teams that have been at the bottom the last couple of years, the Penn States, the Iowas, the Purdues. So, you know, every game in this league’s going to be tough. Again, that’s what’s so great about the Big Ten, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play in such a great conference again. So we’re just excited to get going.
Who would you say is the toughest person to defend that you’ve gone up against?
Definitely [former Michigan point guard] Trey Burke. Obviously, he’s not around anymore but he was a really, really talented player and really knew how to get the most out of his talent, so he was always a fun guy to compete with.
What team would you love to be able to upset?
I’d say probably Ohio State, just because my first two years, we’ve lost in the last minute against them. They’ve been in the top five or 10 in the country both times we’ve played them and I feel like we gave a couple games away against them that we could have won, so it’d be nice to get one of those.
What kind of role do you see yourself in as a veteran player on this team?
Just kind of doing whatever the team needs to play as well as we can and to win. I feel like my game – I kind of have more of an all-around floor general-type game, so whatever the team needs me to do, I’m happy to do, as long as it’ll help us in the game.
There’s been a lot of attention surrounding the team’s better conditioning this season. What improvements do you think that’s made in your game and how that’s translated on to the court?
There have been some huge changes in the conditioning program and the nutrition, what guys are eating and all that, so I definitely think it’ll make huge improvements for myself and for our team, come the middle of the season because there are some guys that have a tendency to wear down over the course of the season, so hopefully the changes we’ve made in the offseason will be able to help us through the long haul.
There’s only one true freshman on the team. So how is [Nate] Taphorn fitting into the team dynamic, and what kinds of things do the veteran players need to integrate him?
Nate’s been playing great for us. He’s going to be a part of what we do this year. Being the only freshman’s gotta be tough, having to go through it by yourself, not having anybody to talk to about it, so we’ve really tried to be his older brother and make sure he understands what college basketball’s about and he knows what it takes to be good at this level. I give him a lot of credit; he’s really done a good job, being the only guy coming in, understanding how different this game is from a high school game. He’s being doing a great job and we look forward to having him contribute for us.