Travel across the country for an NBA pre-draft workout, or walk down the stage and receive your college diploma? That’s the dilemma former Northwestern basketball standout John Shurna faced following his senior year. I recently spoke with Shurna over the phone as he shared that story and others in my latest installment of “Big Ten Tales.”
Josh: It’s time to reflect on another season of Big Ten hoops. I think the rest of college basketball has finally taken notice of something that’s been true for the past 18 months or so–the Big Ten is the best conference in college basketball. Still, you look at the conference today, you see two great teams, 3 pretty darn good teams, a team good enough to make the Dance, and then mediocrity. Heck, even a couple of pretty bad teams. I mean, it’s hard to say the conference underachieved, but here goes–the conference underachieved. Sure, this is still the best action you’ll find, and it’s not close, but we’re still talking about a league that’s probably going to get 6 bids, with only a couple of standout teams. Does that sound much different than the past decade, when the Big Ten wasn’t measuring up to the likes of the ACC and the Big East?
With Saturday’s win over Michigan, Purdue has seemingly punched its ticket to the Dance. At 9-7 in conference play, the Boilermakers are probably right where most expected them to finish this season–still solidly in the field of 68, but not a serious contender for the conference championship. But how they got to this point is very unexpected. Ever since the Baby Boilers arrived at West Lafayette, defense has been the calling card of this team:
On this week’s “The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2012,” at 8 p.m. ET Sunday, our cameras take you behind John Shurna’s record-breaking day as the senior became Northwestern’s all-time leading scorer last weekend against Minnesota. We also profile Calbert Cheaney, the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer, who has returned to Indiana following a career in the NBA, both as a player and assistant coach. Watch a bonus clip now and see what else we’ll be profiling on Sunday’s show in this post. Also, follow the show on Twitter: @BTNJourney.
It was looking like it would be an historic night in Evanston. In front of a sold-out Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Northwestern Wildcats were locked in a tight battle with the visiting Michigan Wolverines. With a win, Northwestern would move one step closer to the 9-9 conference record that would almost certainly earn the program its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. As a cherry on top, the Wildcats’ signature nonconference win was looking even better as Seton Hall had just finished off an impressive win over Georgetown. If Bill Carmody’s team could just pull out this victory, it could be argued that it would be the most important night in Northwestern basketball history.
Tonight on “The Big Ten Pulse,” John Shurna joined us to talk about becoming Northwestern’s all-time leading scorer in Saturday’s victory over Minnesota. Watch the record-setting 3-pointer in this post. Also, Rick Pizzo, Derek Rackley, Tim Doyle and former Michigan State star point guard Mateen Cleaves broke down the tight Big Ten race, discussed whether a Big Ten team will earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney and debated the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Sitting just 17 points behind Billy McKinney on Northwestern’s all-time scoring list, John Shurna was a great bet to make history Saturday night against Minnesota. The senior star did just that in the double-digit victory, hitting a 3-pointer midway through the second half to put his name atop the program’s scoring list. Watch Shurna set the record and see the reaction from the Welsh-Ryan Arena faithful now. From all of us at BTN.com: Congratulations, John!
The knock on Indiana this season was that while the Hoosiers are nearly unbeatable at home, they’re almost the opposite on the road. To wit, the home and away efficiencies are Stevenson-esque in conference play:
While I wait for some Big Ten team – any Big Ten team – to take charge of this way-crazy, makes-no-sense Big Ten race, it’s time for this week’s 3-pointers from a cornfield somewhere outside Decatur, Illinois, on I-72.
John Shurna knows time is running out. The Northwestern forward knows there’s a sense of urgency for the Wildcats to get on a roll. History is at stake. Specifically: The school’s first NCAA tourney trip.
Illinois picked up a much needed victory at Northwestern, but they sure didn’t make it easy on themselves. The Wildcats came out executing their offense to the tune of 1.13 points per possession in the first half, a very solid showing against a good Illini defense. John Shurna was at the forefront of the attack, putting up 17 first half points. Northwestern built a double digit lead before a late Illinois run made it closer at the half.
On a day where Northwestern’s John Shurna came within one 3-pointer of tying the Big Ten record (10), it was one of his buckets near the rim that everyone buzzing. With the game well in control in the final minutes, Shurna made a backdoor cut and hammered home an alley-oop pass from junior Drew Crawford. Shurna, a dunk contest winner during his high school career, exhibited his ups and hang time on this play, because Crawford’s pass was a little short, forcing him to readjust in midair before throwing it down. Watch it for yourself now.