Big East, B1G Ten News: Purdue, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin


Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) is one of 22 collegian who has accepted an invitation from the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s World University Games training camp.

The training camp, which will be held from July 29-Aug. 7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be used to select the 12-member team that will represent the USA at the 2011 World University Games men’s basketball competition Aug. 13-23 in Shenzhen, China.

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Northwestern’s John Shurna Declares for NBA Draft, No Agent


Northwestern Wildcats junior forward John Shurna declared for the 2011 NBA Draft but hasn’t hired an agent. He’s eligible to return to NU for his senior year if he withdraws by May 8th.

“This is an exciting opportunity for John and I fully support his decision,” Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said in a statement. “It’s a chance for him to pursue his dream and we look forward to helping him gather information throughout the process.”

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The Sports Bank “My Boy” Team

derrick williams arizona

As the collegiate basketball season comes to a conclusion this evening, there is still hardware to be handed out that isn’t related to the National Championship. There’s the All-Americans, the Cousy Award, the Wooden Award and plenty of others, however here at The Sports Bank we like to honor players in a different manner.

By Peter Christian and David Kay

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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’s Shurna Wins 2nd Big 10 Player of Week Award


A Northwestern player winning the Big Ten Silver Basketball award? We’re a long way off from that and there’s a ton of college basketball left to be played, but it might just happen. NU junior forward John Shurna (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West) earned his second Big Ten Men’s Basketball Player of the Week honor this season and the fourth of his career.

Shurna led the undefeated Wildcats to a pair of victories last week, averaging 27 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2 blocked shots per game. He shot 76 percent from the field in the contests in helping Northwestern to its first 7-0 start since the 1993-94 season.

Shurna leads the Big Ten and ranks ninth nationally with an average of 23.7 points per game. He’s also third in the nation with a .622 3-point field goal percentage and sixth with an overall field goal percentage of .643.

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Northwestern Heads to MSG Undefeated; Perfect Preconference?


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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Northwestern’s John Shurna: Big Ten’s Leading Scorer


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

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Northwestern Visits Michigan St. can Lightning Strike Again?

Jeff Ghiringhelli asks the questions, Paul M. Banks answers

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What’s Being Said About Emerging College Star John Shurna

By Paul M. Banks

It’s another day and another game, and another career high in points for Northwestern forward John Shurna. Last night, Shurna’s 29 points against Central Connecticut State were a new benchmark. He finished just shy of becoming the fifth player in the Big Ten to score 30 points in a game this season. Two of those four are teammates Michael “Juice” Thompson and Drew Crawford. The trio has helped 10-1 NU become one of just four schools in the country who have posted four nonconference wins against BCS conference schools; joining Texas, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

And it’s Shurna who has become the Wildcats’ go-to guy, averaging over 15 points a game (second on the team behind Juice) and leading the squad with close to 8 boards per contest.

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


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.


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.”