With their 78-62 win over American University on Thursday night, the Northwestern Wildcats improved to 7-0 on the season. They’ll now head to the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival with a perfect record where they’ll take on St. Francis (Pa.) at 6pm Monday and then St. John’s (in a de facto road game) or Davidson the following day at a time TBD.
It’ll most likely be the Johnnies, led by charismatic new first year coach Steve Lavin. However, Coach Lav’s bunch is struggling this season, with losses already to St. Bonaventure, Fordham and St. Mary’s.
There’s been nothing “saintly” about their play so far, and as vulnerable as the Red Storm have looked, they’re the best opponent/possible opponent NU will face in MSG.
All signs point to the Cats being undefeated for their New Year’s Eve date at Purdue,which commences the Big Ten conference season.
By Paul M. Banks
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“There’s a good feeling in this team…you don’t have knuckleheads on this team. They’re very coachable, and that’s a good thing,” NU Head Coach Bill Carmody said.
Now the Cats will move on to “the world’s most famous arena,” in the bright lights of Midtown Manhattan.
“The holiday festival is probably the original Christmas tournament and holiday tournament and great teams have played at the Garden. It’s a mecca of basketball, the history is unbelievable,” Carmody said.
We’ll practice Sunday at the New York City Athletic Club when we get there, and that’s a great place too.
And it’s not just the Coach who’s in an “empire state of mind” right now.
“It’s going to be awesome. We all watch NBA now and especially as kids. and every time someone brings up Madison Square Garden your eyes light up,” said center Luka Mirkovic of the (with apologies to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys) “concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do.”
Northwestern has accomplished it’s first 7-0 start since 1993-94 and they received 5 votes in the latest AP poll. They’re currently sixth in the nation in field goal percentage, 4th in three pointers made.
They’re led by one of the most under-the-radar star college basketball players in the country: John Shurna. The Wooden and Naismith award candidate is third nationally in 3 pt % (.645) and 7th in FG % (.643). He became the 30th player in school history to reach the 1,000 point club Thursday night, the 17th to reach the plateau in just three seasons.
Currently, he’s the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 23 ppg, good for 11th in college basketball.
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