Two guys NU fans expected to step up in the quest to replace Kevin Coble’s points, Drew Crawford and John Shurna, both played their best games of the season tonight to help NU defeat Liberty 69-53. Crawford’s performance was huge to increase the young freshman’s confidence and Shurna looked the most comfortable he has all season.
Drew Crawford had shown excellent athletic skill in NU’s first 3 games, but tonight he showed the ability to hit three point shots as well. Crawford scored 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting including 5-of-10 threes. He also looked very comfortable in NU’s offense as he took the right shot at the right time. Often times freshman are too aggressive or too reluctant to shoot, but Crawford found the right balance today. He also dished out 4 assists, grabbed 4 rebounds, and blocked another shot with his great leaping ability.
John Shurna scored 14 points tonight including two dunks. I think NU has dunked the ball more in four games this year than they did in all of some past seasons. Shurna also made 2-of-6 threes tonight. That’s not great, but it is a little better than he has been doing. I also liked that of those six shots it did not look like he was forcing them. Shurna added 9 rebounds to his stat line along with 3 assists and 0 turnovers.
Northwestern as a team had 22 assists and 13 turnovers. The 13 turnovers are still probably too many. Especially with some unforced. However with 22 assists on 27 made field goals one could see the Princeton Offense in full swing for the Wildcats.
Mention also has to go to the fact Coach Bill Carmody started Kyle Rowley tonight instead of Luke Mirkovic. Rowley responded with 8 points on 4-of-5 shooting. I was impressed with Rowley’s first basket on a left handed hook shot and several others where he went up quick to release the ball. Mirkovic was better than he has been the past two games as he scored 6 points of his own and grabbed 4 rebounds. I suspect Coach Carmody might chose to go back to Rowley starting and Mirkovic coming off the bench as he did more often last season.
Aside from the turnovers and some defensive lapses, especially a couple times NU didn’t get back on defense, the worst part of the night for NU was freshman guard Alex Marcotullio hitting the ground hard in the first half and not returning to action. Marcotullio has a sprained right thumb according to reports from NU. Hopefully he’ll be back when the Wildcats play Notre Dame on Friday.