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
“I say this all the time, Juice is our leader out there, whether is scoring, passing or leading the team,” said sophomore wing Drew Crawford.
The 1992 film “Juice,” starring Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps had a famous tagline: “Power. Respect. Juice: how far will you to get it?”
The way Thompson took over the game reminded me of this quote from that movie:
“You gotta snap some collars and let them motherf***rs know you here to take them out anytime you feel like it! You gotta get the ground beneath your feet, partner, get the wind behind your back and go out in a blaze if you got to! Otherwise you ain’t s***! You might as well be dead your damn self!
That was uttered by 2pac’s character “Bishop” of course. And the way Juice owned the Conseco Fieldhouse court today, as someone who was fighting for his postseason life, with intensity and focus- you can feel that same kind of passion.
After eliminating the Gophers, the Wildcats will move on to face the #1 seeded, #1 in both polls Ohio State Buckeyes tomorrow at noon.
“My thoughts on playing them, I saw the Wisconsin game, you know, a few days ago, so it’s a little scary because they have so many different weapons. They don’t all have to perform well on a given day. Certain guys can have just average games and they can win big. So I mean, it’s a big challenge for us. But that’s why we’re here,” Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody said of the rematch tomorrow.
It will be interesting to see if NU employs the same “stallball” approach tomorrow that they did earlier this season. The slow-down game brought them to within a single point of scoring a ginormous upset win.
“We decided to change the tempo of the game and to try to slow it down a little bit. What was the score in that game? It was like high 50s, I think, 58-57? Yeah, and we kept it down a little bit. I think somewhere in between. I think we still have to get out when we can and throw it up the side and try to knock down some shots, get some early offense. But then after that against a team like this, you have to make them guard you.”
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports
He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
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