It’s very early in the college basketball season, but Northwestern’s John Shurna is first among all Big Ten players in scoring; as well as first overall in 3pt field goals made. Shurna’s teammate Drew Crawford is third, giving the ‘Cats an exciting high-scoring team.
In 2009-10, Shurna was named the nation’s Most Improved Player by Sporting News. Shurna’s scoring average ranked third overall in the Big Ten, while his norm of 20.1 points per game in conference play were one point shy of surpassing Ohio State’s Evan Turner (the man challenging Jenn Sterger for the prize of “individual I’ve written about most) for the scoring title.
Shurna was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season, pacing the Wildcats with averages of 18.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. His 619 points set a Northwestern single-season record and helped the team to a program-best 20 victories and its second straight appearance in the National Invitation Tournament. He also took home the Chicago Invitational MVP award as the Cats took home that tournament title.
I still think he’s one of the more overlooked and underrated players in college basketball, but he was named to the watch list for both the Wooden and Naismith awards, two of the most prestigious honors in the game.
By Paul M. Banks
Although the Cats have a high scoring team, they’re also lacking on defense. And they rank just 8th amongst 11 Big Ten teams so far in scoring defense.
“Last game we gave up 70 points or somethting like that, so we’re trying to make defense our focus and we’re tyring to improve,” Shurna said after Northwestern’s 71-45 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the home opener.
Head Coach Bill Carmody chimed in as well. “I thought we did a better job tonight, Shurna was much better on defense tonight and he’s working at it, we’re going to spend time on our defense. Because to be really good you have to have two defenses,” he said.
If Shurna and company tighten up their d, then both he and his teammates can take a step up.
The Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Glenbard West) native’s positive growth season is partially due to the summer he spent playing abroad with Team USA’s under-19 team. They won a God Medal at the FIBA World Championships.
This summer he competed in Las Vegas as a member of the United States Select Team which helped the USA National Team train for the FIBA World Championships where the squad eventually won the gold medal. Shurna completed his travels by joining his team on an undefeated exhibition game tour of Italy.
“It was a good bonding experience, and we’ve become a more cohesive group and I think we’ve gotten to know how to play with each other better,” Shurna said of the Italian tour.
By the way, this is a pretty funny video, it’s Shurna and teammate Michael “Juice” Thompson doing our job at Big Ten Media Day. Highlights include Jon Leuer (jokingly) saying that Juice is the dirtiest player in the conference and also Shurna’s comments: “chances Juice will be asked about Kevin Coble- 95%, chances he’ll be asked about the NCAA Tournament- 100%”
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