Award Winner John Shurna Talks to the Media
Like Major League Baseball I've waited to pass out awards for a while in effort to extent the season, but here are the Welsh-Ryan Ramblings awards for this season. The awards fit into two categories. The first is individual awards. It is in this category where awards such as MVP will be passed out. The second category is event awards. This category will feature awards such as play of the year. Let’s start with the individual awards…
Most Valuable Player: Michael “Juice” Thompson
John Shurna deserves a lot of credit for what he did this year, but anybody who watched this team knows the Wildcats would have stunk without Juice. His numbers are decent with 14.2ppg and 139 assists, but what really made Juice the most valuable Wildcat is the fact he was the only player to consistently handle the ball this year. That makes his only turning the ball over 59 times absolutely amazing. He also made 41.1% of his threes which led the team and I think that number goes up if NU adds a decent backup for Juice next season.
Newcomer of the Year: Drew Crawford
Yes, he did disappear a bit at times, but Drew Crawford battle through injury enough to finish the year with a 10.0ppg average and capture Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. He also finished the season with two double-doubles in a row. One Rivals poster has already suggested Drew will be “The Man” next season for NU. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but with Crawford, Shurna, and Coble playing together next season NU will have a potent combination of guys who can shoot, but also score inside as well.
Defensive Player of the Year: Jeremy Nash
Jeremy Nash finished the year with 58 steals and 22 blocks. Those are good numbers, but what really made him NU’s best defensive player was the commitment he seemed to show to defense when others lacked such a commitment. Jeremy always tried to be active atop the 1-3-1 and get back and help when playing man-to-man. He wasn’t always successful, but he consistently played harder than many of his teammates.
Now we move to the event awards…
Game of the Year (Individual): John Shurna vs Notre Dame
In the first meeting between the two schools in 25 years, John Shurna scored 25 points to help the Wildcats to a win over #23 Notre Dame and a bid to the Chicago Invitational Challenge Title Game, which they would win a day later. What made Shurna’s day even more impressive was that he scored so well against Luke Harangody. A player many expect to see in the NBA next season. As it turned out Shurna would have even bigger games, but his step up in this contest set the stage for a very successful season individual season.
2008-09…Kevin Coble vs MSU
Game of the Year (Team): vs Purdue at Welsh-Ryan
Northwestern topped #6 Purdue 72-64 on January 16th and the NU fans rushed the court. When this season is looked back upon, I suspect people will talk about this game and the win over Illinois and forget about everything else. That’s probably fine. To be honest, the second half of the Big Ten season was pretty disappointing. For a few moments on the night of January 16th, though, it seemed like NU was already in the NCAA Tournament. From the opening tip to the last buzzer, NU took the game to the #6 team in the nation and eventual Big Ten Champ. The Wildcats aggressively defended the Boilermakers, something they didn’t do to anyone else, and they got great production from Luka Mirkovic 16 points and 10 rebounds who when he played well often became the key to an NU victory. They also made 26-of-30 free throws, a skill which cost NU in several other games.
Play of the Year: Jeremy Nash three pointer to put NU up on Illinois 53-52
Welsh-Ryan Arena exploded when Jeremy Nash hit a three to put NU up on Illinois 53-52. Once that ‘Cats grabbed that lead, something they hadn’t had since very early, they held on to the lead to beat their in-state rival for the first time in 6 years. Considering how loud Welsh-Ryan got on that shot with the half the arena cheering for Illinois, it is scary to think how loud the place could get if NU consistently packed the place with Wildcat fans.
Dunk of the Year: Drew Crawford at Michigan
Northwestern doesn’t have many tip dunks that I recall, but Crawford recorded two this season, one at Illinois and one at Michigan. I like the Michigan one more because NU won the game and it was the play that got play-by-play man Tom Hamilton to exclaim, “There must be two or maybe even three Crawfords out there for Northwestern.” Drew was all over the place that day.
2008-09… Ivan Peljusic