Interrogating the Opposition: Lake The Posts


The Buckeyes will face their first opponent in the Big Ten Tournament at 12 PM ET this Friday. If your at work, strap on your game face cause Ohio State will be facing one tough opponent. The Northwestern Wildcats are coming off an emphatic performance from Juice Thompson. The guard scored 35 points and put the ‘Cats on his back as John Schurna struggled from the field. The Gophers were a team who found a way to get to the championship game last year, but this tournament, the Wildcat leaders are looking to keep their collegiate careers alive.

This morning the Lake The Posts staff join us in our latest edition of Interrogating the Opposition.

S&G: To this point, it’s been an interesting season for the Northwestern Wildcats that have seen it’s ups and Downs. In a nutshell, explain what this season has been like for Northwestern fans.
For most of us this has been borderline torture.  Last summer our all Big-Ten forward Kevin Coble announced he wasn’t coming back for his senior season after he and Carmody got in a spat about going/not going to a preseason hoops tour to Italy.  Coble stayed on campus to graduate (only at NU, right?).  Coming off of last year’s first ever 20-win season and with Coble expected to return from an injury that sidelined him we seemed to finally have THE team and this was THE year to break the barrier and get in to our FIRST EVER NCAA TOURNAMENT.

LTP: We really screwed up last season when scheduling as our non-conference joke of a schedule did us no favors.  We started 9-0 against opponents that killed our RPI and were up huge on St. John’s at MSG when JerShon Cobb got smashed on a lay-up.  The season seemed to turn on that play.

A week later John Shurna suffered a high ankle sprain in a blowout win over another creampuff.  He’s never recovered.

The injuries and Coble were the “woe is us” tonic for NU fans, but in reality we have been horrible at defense.  We also seem to lack heart in stretches of games (except for Juice Thompson).  The “fire Carmody” bandwagon kicked in as I for one made the call as I believe the program has plateaued.  We have serious issues in the post and as usual get killed on the boards.  The live by the three, die by the three philosophy is getting old and when we couldn’t get to NCAA
bubble status among this year’s weak competition it got many to seriously ask “will we ever get there?”.  The season is a big disappointment by anyone’s measurement.

S&G: Senior guard Michael Thompson might be the most celebrated player in Northwestern history. His 35 points against Minnesota are a tournament record. What’s so special about Thompson and is he enough talent for the Wildcats to go on a run in Indianapolis?

LTP: Pretty simple. He’s got heart.  Juice has put him up in the all-time NU favorites along with Jittim Young who had the same refuse-to-lose DNA.  Without Juice it is very fair to say Carmody would be getting fired. He’s responsible for at least 4 Big Ten wins plus yesterday’s BTT performance.  When he’s penetrating and hitting from the outside it opens up our offense.  He can’t do it alone though. We need at least Drew Crawford and Shurna to step up big time to make a run.  All three need to be on today for us to win.

S&G: Update us on Michael Shurna’s status heading into Friday’s match-up.

LTP: It’s John Shurna.  Shurna still wears a boot for the high ankle sprain.  He’s gained huge admiration from fans as by most accounts he should’ve sat for a month or so but Carmody has admitted a 50% Shurna is good enough to start.  Yesterday was his worst game since early in
Big Ten play, but Minnesota had something to do with that. They were cheating out on him and doubling him up which helped free up Juice.

S&G: Earlier this season, the Wildcats were able to give the Buckeyes a run for their money by capitalizing on offensive rebounds and a 21-7 run late in the ballgame. What do the Wildcats have to do on Friday to keep the game close?

LTP: I expect a similar slowdown approach.  Not as much since we have Shurna back for this game but make no mistake we are thin. Our standout freshman guard JerShon Cobb is not going to play (he’s been out with a hip flexor) which is huge since he is one of the best creators we have on offense. Also, reserve forward Mike Capocci is out with a concussion.  We are thin and played yesterday so second half fatigue could be an issue. We are using guys that didn’t see the light
of day (Nick Freuendt) this season so the match-ups don’t bode well. Our center Luka Mirkovic has lost almost all of his confidence and I expect OSU to exploit this big time.

S&G: If Northwestern can keep it close and get past the Buckeyes, it would be the first time this school has made it to Saturday. What would that mean for the program?

LTP: It would be the biggest win in program history.  It would be indescribable in terms of how big it would be!

(Lake The Posts is a Northwestern Wildcats Blog, covering basketball and football. If your looking for the best in Wildcat News and views, make sure you swing by