ROSEMONT, Ill. — The 19th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats are still settling into their temporary home.
Due to a $110 million renovation project of Welsh-Ryan Arena, all of the Wildcats’ home games during the 2017-18 season will be played at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., which is also home to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL and the Chicago Sky of the WNBA. The renovation of Welsh-Ryan Arena is scheduled for completion ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The Wildcats (1-0) will have another chance to acclimate to their new environment as they host St. Peter’s (0-1) on Monday night.
Northwestern narrowly avoided an upset Friday in its inaugural game in Allstate Arena, edging Loyola (Md.) 79-75 behind Scottie Lindsey’s 26 points. The Wildcats had a 13-point lead at halftime against Loyola and led by as many as 17, but struggled to close the game out in the face of the Greyhounds’ hot shooting.
“We tried our best to simulate it, but it’s definitely new,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said of the new home environment. “This is our home. We’re going to make it our home. But these first couple of games are going to be important for us to kind of get into a routine of how we approach the day and get ourselves ready to go.”
Lindsey, a unanimous preseason All-Big Ten selection, thanked the students who attended the season opener at the Arena, which is about a 30-minute drive from Northwestern’s campus.
“Allstate is great,” Lindsey said. “It felt really good playing out there. Our students showing up, I thought that was really great. I’m looking forward to playing here for the rest of the year.”
St. Peter’s dropped its opener to La Salle 61-40 on Saturday. It marked the lowest scoring total for St. Peter’s since a 61-38 loss to Fairfield on Feb. 15, 2012.
“We feel really good that these guys know how to put the physical and the mental work into it,” St. Peter’s coach John Dunne said. “We’re not going to have as much on-court experience this year as we had last year, but if the returning guys do their part and show great leadership in their preparation and show our young, talented guys what it takes, we feel pretty good we’re going to put a good product on the floor.”
The Peacocks shot just 30 percent from the field and relied heavily on the 3-point shot, which accounted for nearly half of their made field goals, but had no players in double figures.
“The leadership roles this year need to come from a lot of different guys,” Dunne said. “I think Nick Griffin, first and foremost, is a guy that has leadership qualities. Cam Jones, who redshirted last year, but he can be a vocal guy.”
Jones led the way for the Peacocks in their opener, scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench, including a team-best three 3-pointers. Griffin added eight points on 3-of-7 shooting.