Alex Marcotullio serves as an extension of his head coach, on the court. He knows the offense and where everybody should be. When something isn't right, he steps in to correct it.
"He's telling me when to sub," joked Bill Carmody.
Now a senior, Marcotullio is no stranger to Carmody's schemes. The Warren, Mich. native has played in 97 games with Northwestern, serving in a variety of roles.
Carmody is now counting on his senior more than ever. Marcotullio will need to take charge of Northwestern's shooting guard position, left vacant by the suspended Jershon Cobb. He'll need to increase his numbers to boost the team. More importantly, he'll need to be a leader.
"Al knows stuff," Carmody added. "He's like a point guard in a lot of ways. You think of him as a shooting guard, but he has the head of a point guard; he knows where everybody should be and what everybody should do. He's not afraid to tell people, which is really important."
Marcotullio is up for the challenge in his last stanza. He admitted to having more hunger than ever before, working to improve during the offseason. Still, it's a team-first approach.
"That's my biggest thing," Marcotullio stated. "It doesn't matter how many points I score or how many minutes I play, I just want to do whatever I can to help my team win."
No Wildcat may be better suited to lead Northwestern than Marcotullio. The guard brings unmatched energy, both to the floor and the locker room.
"I don't want to call him loud," said sophomore guard David Sobolewski, "but he's enthusiastic, both on and off the court, and enjoys what he's doing."
Marcotullio, however, labeled himself as loud. As a leader, he must properly channel that toward helping his teammates. He's still learning the ropes.
"It's a challenge getting to know how to talk with the younger kids," he said. "But it's a good challenge. Some guys, you have to yell at and push. Other guys, you have to tap on the shoulder and say, 'Keep trying.' That's an interesting challenge to face as a leader."
Being vocal is natural for Marcotullio; now, he must convey that as a leader does.
Marcotullio hopes to follow in the footsteps of departed senior John Shurna, who helped command the Cats during his record-breaking four-year career. Shurna set a positive example with several key traits.
"He was so gracious and so humble with the way he went about his business," Marcotullio said of Shurna. "Anyone would want to be like John."
It is time for Marcotullio to fill his final, most important role for Northwestern. His personality fits the task.
"Basketball is really important to him," Carmody said. "On the court, he plays with a passion. He loves the game."