John Shurna scored 23 points in a follow up effort to yesterday’s 25 to lead Northwestern to a 67-65 victory over Iowa State and the Chicago Invitational Challenge Championship. The win gave the Wildcats their first in-season tournament title since December 30, 1993. Shurna’s 48 points in two days gave him the tournament’s MVP award. Along with Shurna’s MVP honors, Jeremy Nash and Michael “Juice” Thompson represented NU on the All-Tournament Team for the CIC.
In tonight’s game Shurna scored 17 points in the first half. When NU got off to a very slow start, it was 9 early points by Shurna which kept NU in the game. Although Iowa State adjusted to keep Shurna somewhat quiet after his early outburst of points, the Wildcat sophomore still kept himself involved in the NU offensive by dishing out key assists to Luka Mirkovic, Jeremy Nash, and Drew Crawford. Shurna also once again hit the boards hard and helped NU almost match Iowa State rebound for rebound despite the fact ISU had a much larger lineup. Shurna finished the day with 7 rebounds. He totaled 15 for the two days.
Juice Thompson added 16 points against Iowa State on 6-of-9 shooting. He once again looked comfortable both shooting the three and driving towards the basket to shoot his soft floater. If Thompson continues to show such versatility he will be very tough to defend. Credit also has to go to Thompson for his ironman performances this season. He is averaging nearly 40 minutes a game and he doesn’t seem tired at all.
The Wildcats other all-tournament selection was Jeremy Nash. Nash had 10 points tonight including two huge threes which helped NU get back into the game in the second half when Iowa State took a 9-point lead. He also made two clutch free throws which proved to be the game’s winning margin.
A number of other Wildcats played well, but I’ll give special recognition to Alex Marcotullio and Davide Curletti. Marcotullio once again made a couple big threes and showed he wasn’t afraid to keep shooting after a miss. Davide Curletti came off the bench and played excellent defense on Iowa State star (and future NBA draft pick) Craig Brackins. I truly believe that despite being the smallest of NU’s three centers, Curletti is the best post defender on the NU roster. He is also athletic enough that he can get rebounds against bigger guys. I’m not saying he should play 40 minutes, but he should get action in every contest. NU needs to play all three centers for them to learn, but right now I think Curletti should be getting minutes similar to Luka Mirkovic and Kyle Rowley should be the one playing more of a supporting role. One skill which could help Curletti get more minutes is showing the ability to knock down the three. Curletti is a good shooter, but he hadn’t really shown that skill until knocking down a huge three pointer to give NU a 6 point lead in tonight’s game at 61-55. If Curletti or Luka Mirkovic can knock down threes it will make the Princeton Offense nearly impossible to stop.