Saturday, November 28, 2009

67-65 Victory Over Iowa State Gives Northwestern Chicago Invitational Challenge Title

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.


Anonymous said...

Great win by the Wildcats last night. Also, many people have said Coble will be back next year but nobody has said anything about Ryan. Can he come back next season also?

G1000 said...

After the Notre Dame win I was cautiously optimistic. Now I'm totally excited about the rest of the season. The Cats now have a great chance to win the rest of their non conference games. I fully expect them to beat NC State on Tuesday. Stanford might be a little tougher, but that's a very winnable game as well.

Big Men: Grade C-

Rowley continues to be a liability both offensively and defensively. And Mirkovic had a couple of travels (which is inexcusable). These guys need to start playing better.

Forwards: Grade A-

Once again, Shurna was great. He wasn't quite as good as he was against Notre Dame. 3-10 from beyond the arc isn't spectacular. But he converted a few three point plays early in the game that kept us in it. Curletti also hit a big three late in the game to just about seal the victory (though I don't approve of him taking that shot).

Guards: Grade B+

Thompson, Nash, and Marcotulliio all played great again. And Drew Crawford had a couple of nice moments as well. These guys continue to do just enough to open things up for Shurna.

Coaching: Grade B+

It wasn't a brilliant game plan by Carmody. Iowa State's Luca Steiger kept getting open, something Northwestern should have adjusted to. Late in the game, the Cats started trying to work the clock instead of looking to score. That was something that got them into trouble last season (remember the Purdue and Illinois games). But he did a good job substituting, and they won. So it's hard to fault him too much.

Game MVP: John Shurna

Let's take down NC State!

Ryan said...

Ryan can come back, but I think it will depend on NU's spring recruiting. If NU signs another player I don’t think Jeff will return. If they don’t sign another player I think Jeff will probably come back and play a role similar to what he was expected to play this year. This is a good question, though, and I think it will warrant some more attention.

G1000 said...

By the way, I don't believe Curletti is a center. He's listed as a 6-9 forward. I think Mirkovic and Rowley are the only "true" centers on the roster. If those guys start playing better, this team will be an offensive force.