Northwestern basketball needs more from JerShon Cobb

jershon-cobb

In order for Northwestern basketball to reach the NIT, they’ll need more from JerShon Cobb. The second option behind Drew Crawford, Cobb is second on the team in scoring, and they’re the only two that average double figures for the Wildcats. NU Coach Chris Collins has said on a few occasions that his team does not have the depth of other Big Ten schools, therefore his margin of error is smaller.

JerShon Cobb needs to be on it as much as possible.

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Northwestern Wildcats Moving on to Play #1 Ohio State

Michael juice Thompson

As he has so many times this season, Northwestern Wildcats senior point guard Michael “Juice” Thompson carried his team on his back, leading his team to a victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a Big Ten Tournament game they absolutely had to have in order to preserve any chance of a NCAA Tournament berth; and probably really needed to salvage a NIT berth.

Thompson led the way with 35 points, a new career high and a single game Big Ten Tournament record.

By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern 68, Minnesota 57: Rapid Reaction

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The at-large bid chances are long gone for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. And it took another hit tonight. They were on the bubble until they hit a three games losing streak, all against Big Ten bubble teams (Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Penn State Nittany Lions).

Now their path to a NCAA bid is the exact same as the Northwestern Wildcats- run the conference tournament table or else. Wednesday night provided a chance to see who, if either of the two teams, could be more likely to make that miracle run.

And if league standings hold, they’ll get the chance to eliminate one another on the very first day of the tournament, as they’re slotted for the Thursday #8 vs.#9 game.

By Paul M. Banks

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Penn State Wins Another Battle Over Northwestern

Talor Battle

Hard to decide which type of domination is stronger. Penn State’s college basketball domination over Northwestern, or Talor Battle’s owning of the PSU hoops record book. State has won six in a row and ten of eleven versus NU.

Even when they went 3-15 in conference last year, the Lions still beat the Cats twice. And in the Penn State record book, Battle is first all time in minutes, starts, and (if current projections hold, come Big Ten Tournament time) scoring. He’s also third in field goals, assists, and three-pointers.

And on Thursday night, Penn St. jumped out to a 18-2 lead, never looked back and scored a very convincing 66-52 victory in Evanston.

And tonight saw history as well. Battle became the first player in Big Ten (and just the 10th in NCAA Division 1) history to record 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists.

By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern Utterly Destroys SIU-Edwardsville

Michael juice Thompson

Like I said on Monday, for Northwestern wins over Michigan and SIU-Edwardsville should be a given this week; but neither helps their RPI and Strength Of Schedule. They need to win those two and then sweep the next two- Wisconsin and at Minnesota or the tournament bubble will officially burst before February even gets here.

They took care of step one on Monday, and step two Thursday night, crushing a 5-15 team in SIU-E 98-55 who is still transitioning from playing in division II, to next year when they’ll reside in the Ohio Valley Conference.

It was comforting that Northwestern crushed this team so thoroughly, especially so when considering they were without their MVP John Shurna, who sat this one out.

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Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats, LIVE BLOG! The “Rivalry” Renews!!!

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OHHHHHHHHH It’s a family affair here at the Ass Hall tonight. Not really, but I feel like Northwestern is our “little brother”…

We’re three minutes to tipoff!  The purple weenies are here! There was a bigger crowd for Wisconsin (wait, that’s not good)…Northwestern HAS to win this game (wait, that’s worse…). Uh oh. Maybe this is gonna be trouble tonight…2:30 til tipoff and we find out!! [Read more…]

John and Juice Leading 9-1 Northwestern into Big 10 Play

Michael juice  Thompson

Northwestern hoops has been “sipping on John and Juice” this season. (At least I didn’t make the “purple drank” joke which seemed obvious given the team’s colors). This college basketball season in Evanston, the Wildcats have been led by junior forward John Shurna, the Big Ten’s leading scorer and one of the most underrated players in the country. And senior point guard Michael “Juice” Thompson.

Both are local products; Thompson, the team’s second leading scorer and leading assist man hails from Chicago and played prep ball at Lincoln Park high school. His fellow member of the 1,000 point club, Shurna, is from suburban Glen Ellyn.

By Paul M. Banks

(note: the phrase “john and juice” in the title must be credited to the Big Ten Network’s Tim Doyle)

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Northwestern B-ball names Captains, Departs for Italian Adventure

bill carmody northwestern

Northwestern head men’s basketball coach Bill Carmody announced seniors Jeff Ryan (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) and Michael Thompson (Chicago, Ill./Lincoln Park) have been selected team captains for the upcoming season.

“Jeff and Michael have proven to be tremendous leaders throughout their careers and have set a great example to their teammates through their dedication and commitment to the program,” Carmody said. “They have earned the respect of their teammates as well as the staff.”

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Northwestern Hoops All Decade Team

Ohio State Northwestern Basketball

By Paul M. Banks

Creating an all decade team for Northwestern, the only program from a major power conference never to qualify for a NCAA tournament, was interesting to say the least. A task such as this requires creativity, being unconventional, perhaps even a bit abnormal. But my celebrity crush is Kirsten Dunst, so conventionalism and normality aren’t exactly my strong suits anyway.

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Juice (Thompson) is Loose as Northwestern takes Chicago Invitational Title

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By Paul M. Banks

NU beats Iowa State 67-65 to take Chicago Invitational Championship. Forward John Shurna named MVP, Guards Jeremy Nash and Michael “Juice” Thompson named to all-tournament team.

When Northwestern’s star forward Kevin Coble went down for the season with a foot injury, someone needed to step up. That someone is turning out to be two people: Juice Thompson and John Shurna. With Juice running the point, and Shurna scoring both inside and outside at will, this team certainly has “juice” (slang for power, respect, notoriety) now.

They’re 5-1 with some quality wins on their resume. Rick Majerus told me yesterday he thinks ISU could compete with Kansas for the Big 12 title. And Northwestern beat them. Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, a potential NBA lottery pick, played with Shurna for Team USA last summer. Yesterday Shurna was telling me how much he was impressed by Brackins, today Brackins returned the favor. “We scrimmaged the Under-19 team there, so I knew how good he was, and what a great a shooter he was,” Brackins said.

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NU Head Coach Bill Carmody extolled the virtues of Shurna’s development in the post-game presser. And when a reporter asked if Shurna might start to develop a big head after scoring 23 and 25 points on back-to-back nights against top notch competition, Coach had a candid and unique reply. “No, he’s such a humble kid. It’s hard to get that kid to be confident. You know that guy, he looks like he’s 14 years old. He’s a little goofy, God bless him.”

And while Shurna was the best player on the floor this Thanksgiving weekend. The most valuable player was probably Thompson. Some people call him Juice, some people call him Michael. The junior point guard entered this game as the Cats leading scorer and floor general.

“To my peers and my teammates, it’s Juice, but Coach Carmody doesn’t call me that unless I make a mistake, other than that he calls me Mike or Thompson.

Juice said he learned a lot from Craig Moore, last year’s starting two guard, who broke pretty much every school three point record imaginable, and was the the unquestioned leader of the team.

“Craig was a feisty guy, he was always on top of guys, and some guys you can get through to them that way. So being a leader I’m just trying to figure out who I can get through to in that way, and who I need to talk to in just a calm manner and try to get them to work harder,” Thompson replied. Thompson also told me about his “Juice” tattoo on his right shoulder. “This is my trademark there, I got to get that copyrighted.”

Northwestern Preview Basketball

Juice has evolved into this team’s floor general and I asked him what that term means to him “A coach on the court someone who knows the offense inside and out, and knows what everyone needs to do, and every thing that the coach wants him to do. I have a feel for what Coach Carmody wants me to run at certain times. He pretty much wants me to call plays on my own,” Juice replied.

Thompson sure sounded like a Coach when I asked him how they upset Notre Dame and stopped the most highly heralded player in the nation last night. “We watched a lot of film, we pretty much knew what we had to do, our coaches wanted us to focus on Harangody, and close out on the shooters with our 1-3-1. With Harangody we were trying to double him as much as we could. But with our 1-3-1 he wasn’t under the basket as much as he can be, and that’s where he’s most effective. With Hansbrough we tried to close out on him and be there right on the catch and I think we did a great job of that.”

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Wildcats Approach School Record for Wins.

By Paul M. Banks

f you saw the highlights of Northwestern’s shocking upset at #20 Purdue on the Big Ten Network last night, you might have seen the line reading “17 wins by Northwestern ties school record.” That’s incorrect. Their next victory, which could come Sunday at Ohio St., would be their 18th. That would tie the school record set by the 1982-83 squad led by Jim Stack. Yes, the Jim Stack.

His group beat Notre Dame in the NIT first round before losing to DePaul in the 2nd round. Lots of local representation in the 1983 National Invitational tournament. NU’s 1931 Big Ten championship team has the best record in school history (16-1), and if you vividly recall that- congratulations on living a long and healthy life!

Getting back to today, the Cats have won three in a row, partially thanks to Big Ten player of the week, sophomore point guard Michael “Juice” Thompson. “I feel myself and the rest of my teammates are playing their best basketball right now. People say it’s good to be playing your best basketball going into March and tournament time,” Thompson said.

Despite what some pundits are saying a win in Columbus will NOT equal the program’s first NCAA tournament berth. Not with an 81st ranked RPI, 61st strength of schedule and below .500 conference record. In order to avoid saying a Cublike “just wait till next year,” about March Madness, they’ll need to run the Big Ten Conference Tournament table in Indianapolis. If they had effectively closed the deal in at least two of the four games in which they blew double-digit second half leads…they’d likely have a ticket to the Big Dance.

However, the school which hosted the first NCAA tournament yet never played in one (with apologies to Alanis Morrissette, “Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?”) will obtain a postseason berth of some sort. Northwestern Wildcats does include the letters N-I-T. After last year’s horrid 8-22, 1-17 in conference debacle, any postseason berth is greatly appreciated in Evanston. “I may be their biggest fan. I love what Northwestern does and I’ve always had great respect for the way Bill’s {Carmody} teams execute to precision,” Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said after his Hawkeyes lost to the Cats last Saturday.