Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Senior Night for the Class of 2013

Northwestern’s senior of 2013 has seen some of the best basketball in the history of NU, but unfortunately they recently suffered through a stretch of one of the worst. As a result they’ll become yet another class to leave Northwestern without that first elusive NCAA bid (unless they have a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament). Nonetheless, this is a class that I know I’ll positively remember as a fan and I certainly hope others will as well.

The star of the group and the best story is Reggie Hearn. The one time walk-on that became a two-year starter and the leading scorer on the team this season. Hearn was at times NU’s best player even when guys like Drew Crawford where on the court with him. He’s always played defense with great intensity and became adept at finding ways to score off the dribble as well as being a decent enough three point threat to help NU win games. I’ll always remember Hearn dominating in Champaign vs Illinois for two years in a row and I hope young players look at Reggie’s toughness and work-ethic as an inspiration when things don’t go their way.

Alex Marcotullio had the potential to be a prolific shooter for the Wildcats, but his health didn’t hold up over much of his career. I’ll never forget him coming in as a freshman and hitting clutch shots to help NU beat Iowa State and N.C. State. I also won’t forget that he was in many ways NU’s best all-around player during their run deep into the NIT in 2011. NU’s media experts kept showing his clutch shot vs Ohio State from last season (despite the fact NU didn’t win the game) but maybe that shot was emblematic of Marcotullio’s career. He was close to becoming more than what he was, but at least he’s leaving as someone fans will remember positively.

Finally, Jared Swopshire only played about two-thirds of a season for NU. The 5th-year transfer from Louisville seemed to finally get comfortable as a lead player versus someone with a supporting role, but his injury at Iowa prevented him from reaching his full potential. Still, his influence around NU was significant as he brought a winning attitude from a Final Four program to NU and hopefully showed the young Wildcats what it takes to reach that level. If NU makes the NCAAs next season I have no doubt that Swopshire’s influence on guys like Tre Demps and Alex Olah will have played a big role.

I wish these senior could have accomplished more than they did, but instead they’ll leave that challenge to Drew Crawford who was once planning to graduate with them until an injury derailed this season for him. Now, Drew’s class of 2014 will take on the challenge of making NU’s history into history.

Unless the class of 2013 decides to do it in the Big Ten Tournament next week.

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