Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

December 2010 Archives

Northwestern bowl win in Texas would be crucial

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

If Northwestern can pull off a win over Texas Tech Saturday in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas, it will mean more to the program than the average fan can imagine. It will give the Wildcats more credibility in the Big Ten and also help their recruiting in Texas. There are seven players from Texas on the Wildcats' roster, and Fitzgerald said at one point in his tenure there were as many as "13 or 14" native Texans from either Houston or Dallas on the roster.

"We have about 6,000 alumni here in the Dallas metroplex and I will be back down here in a couple weeks recruiting and then again in May to see our alumni association," said Fitzgerald, who will hit Dallas and Houston.


* Speaking in a raspy voice attributed to getting dunked in a dunk tank contest Dec. 17 after practice in Evanston, Fitzgerald joked that to change the Wildcats' luck in bowl games he was going to conjure up some fictional magic.

"I called Cerrano from 'Major League' and got Jobu out to cut the head off the chicken," Fitzgerald said. "We did that a year ago [in the Outback Bowl] and it didn't work, so we're going to stay the course and show up tomorrow and play."

Northwestern forward John Shurna makes progress

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
After spraining his left ankle in a non-conference win over Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 23, NU leading scorer John Shurna was able to practice Wednesday for the first time this week. This bodes well for the Wildcats' chances at Purdue on Friday when they open Big Ten play against the Boilermakers.

Wildcats start off soggy in Dallas

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Wouldn't you know it.
On Tuesday, Northwestern practiced outdoors at Mesquite High School in Dallas in preparation for Saturday's TicketCity Bowl against Texas Tech. It was drizzling, but a short time after the Wildcats started workouts the skies opened up and the Wildcats were hit with a downpour.
"It woke them up a little bit," coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
So, of course, Wednesday the plan was to practice inside at TCU thinking there would be inclement weather. 
It was sunny and pleasant instead. They could have used the facility a day earlier.
But Fitzgerald was pleased with how the team is doing and said the best part of Tuesday was that the players got to take a much-needed nap. After travel delays got the team into Dallas several hours behind schedule Monday night, coupled with returning back to Evanston for a practice on Monday, the Wildcats were beat.

Update on Northwestern's John Shurna

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Northwestern junior forward John Shurna is still recovering from a sprained ankle suffered last week Thursday in the Wildcats' victory over Mount St. Mary's at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Shurna did not practice on Monday and will receive treatment Monday and Tuesday. The Wildcats open the Big Ten season at Purdue on Friday, but it is not known now whether or not Shurna will play.

In other Wildcat basketball news, Brittany Orban, a 6-2 junior forward, was named the Big Ten's women's player of the week. It is her first Big Ten Player of the Week honor, after Orban notched a double-double in the Wildcats' win over Toledo last week. Orban finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

When Northwestern's men's basketball team takes the floor Monday night against St. Francis of New York in the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival, junior forward John Shurna will have another honor on his resume. On Monday Shurna earned his second Big Ten Player of the Week honor of the season and fourth of his career. Shurna averaged 27 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2 blocked shots in two games last week and scored his 1,000th career point last week Thursday against American. Shurna also helped the Wildcats start the season 7-0 for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign.

In other Big Ten Player of the Week news, women's star Amy Jaeschke earned her third such honor of the season after averaging 24.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game in three Northwestern contests last week. She recorded with two 20-point games, two seven-rebound efforts and finished the week with 15 blocks. Her top game of the week came against Northern Illinois, where she finished with a game-high 33 points, adding seven rebounds and swatting five shots in a victory over the Huskies. Jaeschke ranks second in the Big Ten points per game (24.2) and third in rebounds (9.2).

Outside of the basketball court, the women's swim team is doing its part to boost the morale of U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan. The team is doing an 11-day training trip in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in between workouts the Wildcats are preparing care packages for five members of the U.S. Air Force. Senior Kate Stephensen spearheaded the project, organizing her teammates into five
groups. The Wildcats collected candy, popcorn, holiday cookies, other snack items,
playing cards, magazines, books, personal care items and footballs for the troops.
NU also included stuffed animals for the troops to give to children in Afghan
villages.

And finally, NU announced the four new members to its Athletic Hall of Fame. Steve DePetro (wrestling), Kathy Halley (field hockey), Courtney Koester (women's lacrosse) and Ralph Schultz (men's track and field) will be inducted on Jan. 22 at the university's Allen Center.

Northwestern greats honored with new Big Ten trophies

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The Big Ten announced its new divisional names for the 2011 football season: Legends and Leaders. Not the most stellar names, I think, but what is more significant to Northwestern fans is that two of the league's 18 new trophies are named after Wildcat greats.

The Graham-George Trophy is named after NU legend Otto Graham and Ohio State's Eddie George. It will be awarded to the Big Ten's offensive player of the year. Graham played at NU from 1941-43 and was third in the Heisman voting his senior year.

And coach Pat Fitzgerald was honored with the Butkus-Fitzgerald award, given to the league's best linebacker. Fitzgerald, a two-time Nagurski and Bednarik award winner from his playing days at NU and a two-time All-American, was humbled when he found out his name will be alongside former Illinois great Dick Butkus.

"It was a couple of weeks ago that [the Big
Ten] reached out to me, and I laughed. I asked 'Are you sure?' " Fitzgerald said in a statement. "I grew up wanting to
win the Butkus Award. I grew up wanting to be that kind of linebacker. Now to be
side-by-side with a player like that and a person like that to me is an honor. To be
representing the conference that way is an honor, too."

* NU kick returner Venric Mark was been named to Rivals.com's All-America freshman second team Tuesday.

Northwestern returns to practice grind

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

With finals out of the way the Wildcats can concentrate on trying to win only the second bowl game in program history Jan. 1 at the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas.

The Wildcats practiced indoors Saturday in Evanston and coach Pat Fitzgerald said he was pleased with quarterbacks Evan Watkins and Kain Colter, but said that some other facets of the team were "a little rusty." Finals week will do that to you, I guess.

After nearly every game in November, minus the Iowa victory Nov. 13, Fitzgerald has said how frustrated he is at missed tackles and that the defense must improve at that most basic aspect of football if the team is to be successful. But after Saturday's practice, Fitzgerald seemed like the defense was pointed in the right direction.

"It was good to get some guys back today. We had seven guys on defense not practice. We were pretty beat up. What happened to us at the end of the [season] was an anomaly."

To liven the mood, Fitzgerald has scheduled a trip Monday night to the Bulls game at the United Center and then an outing to a Blackhawks game next week Sunday.

Northwestern's Arby Fields to transfer

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

          Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Thursday that sophomore running back Arby Fields is leaving the team and transferring.

            "We're disappointed that Arby has made the decision to leave Northwestern," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "He is an outstanding young man and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."

            Fitzgerald was not available for more comments, as he is on the road recruiting, a team spokesperson said. Fields' teammates were also not available for comment due to reading week for final exams.

            Fields, an Alta Loma, Calif. native, played two seasons for the Wildcats and rushed for 480 yards in 23 games with six touchdowns. Fields also had 21 receptions. He rushed for a career-high 96 yards against Illinois State on Sept. 11, a 37-3 victory at Ryan Field. He was also the team's leading rusher in 2009 with 302 yards and five touchdowns.

            Fields, also a centerfielder for the Wildcats baseball team, hit .292 last spring during his freshman campaign with 27 RBI and eight stolen bases.

            A team spokesperson said he is not sure if Fields will play both baseball and football at his new school, but that Fields is going to leave after the NU quarter ends next week and will try to enroll in a new school by January.

            The spokesperson also said that Fields met with Fitzgerald on Sunday to tell him he wanted to transfer, and met with more officials from the program Wednesday to finalize his decision.

            Fields was one of three running backs starting for the Wildcats for the first month of the season. He was hopefully going to be the headliner in a running game that Fitzgerald had high hopes for since training camp began in August.

            Fields suffered a setback in training camp when he injured his left shoulder at Camp Kenosha, but was able to play in the Wildcats' season opener at Vanderbilt. After the ISU victory, Fields' output dropped off and he was benched for the Purdue game Oct. 6, a 20-17 loss at Ryan Field.

            After Fields stopped seeing playing time, Fitzgerald went with the running back tandem of Jacob Schmidt and redshirt freshman Mike Trumpy, a local prodcut from Wheaton North. Schmidt, though, injured his ankle in the Wildcats' 35-27 loss to Michigan State and has since been unable to play.

            Trumpy picked up the slack, but he suffered a non-surgical fracture in his right wrist in the first quarter against Illinois on Nov. 20 at Wrigley Field, a 48-27 Wildcat loss. Trumpy did not play in the Wildcats' 70-23 loss at Wisconsin last week, and it is unknown whether or not Trumpy will be available for the Wildcats' as-yet-to-be-determined bowl game which will be announced on Sunday.

            NU has had luck keeping its players in Evanston, with only two players in the past 10 years having transferred. Thomas Bemenderfer was an offensive lineman from Mishawaka, Ind. who left the program to attend Notre Dame in 2006. Tony Stauss was a pro-style quarterback from Racine, Wis., who transferred to North Dakota State in 2003 after the Wildcats started running a spread offense.

Northwestern's Arby Fields leaves football program

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

         Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald announced Thursday that sophomore running back Arby Fields is leaving the team.

            "We're disappointed that Arby has made the decision to leave Northwestern," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "He is an outstanding young man and we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors."

            Fields played two seasons for the Wildcats and rushed for 480 yards in 23 games with six touchdowns. Fields also had 21 receptions. He rushed for a career-high 96 yards against Illinois State on Sept. 11, a 37-3 victory at Ryan Field.

            Fields, also a centerfielder for the Wildcats baseball team, hit .292 last spring during his freshman campaign with 27 RBI and eight stolen bases.

            Fields was one of three running backs starting for the Wildcats for the first month of the season. He was hopefully going to be the headliner in a running game that Fitzgerald had high hopes for since training camp began in August. But after the ISU victory, Fields' output dropped off and he was benched for the Minnesota game on Oct. 2, a 29-28 victory in Minneapolis.

            After Fields stopped seeing playing time, Fitzgerald went with the running back tandem of Jacob Schmidt and redshirt freshman Mike Trumpy, a local prodcut from Wheaton North. Schmidt, though, injured his ankle in the Wildcats' 35-27 loss to Michigan State and has since been unable to play. Trumpy picked up the slack, but he suffered a non-surgical fracture in his right wrist in the first quarter against Illinois on Nov. 20 at Wrigley Field, a 48-27 Wildcat loss.

            Fitzgerald was not immediately available for more comments, as he is on the road recruiting, a university spokesperson said.

 

                 

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2010 is the previous archive.

January 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.