Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

January 2011 Archives

Ohio State beats Northwestern

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A last-second three-pointer by Drew Crawford fell short, and Northwestern lost a heartbreaker to No. 1 Ohio State 58-57. 
Michael Thompson tied the score at 57 with 1:30 to play, but at the 1:14 mark Northwestern's Alex Marcotullio threw the ball right into the hands of Ohio State guard David Lighty. On the Buckeye's possession, freshman Jared Sullinger was fouled and made the second of two free throws, accounting for the final.

Northwestern keeps Ohio State close in first half

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Despite losing the 19 points per game scoring average that John Shurna brings to Northwestern, the Wildcats seem to be holding their own against the top-ranked, undefeated Buckeyes -- at least in the first half.

Ohio State led for most of the first half, until freshman JerShon Cobb nailed a three-pointer at about the 4:40 mark.

Buckeye freshman Jared Sullinger tied the score at 23 late in the first half and OSU went into halftime with a 27-25 lead.

Shurna's replacement

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Mike Capocci got the nod to replace John Shurna in the starting lineup against Ohio State.
Cappoci is a 6-6 senior forward out of Glenbard East H.S. and made his first start of the season against SIU-Edwardsville on Jan. 20. Shurna also sat out that game, but to rest his sprained left ankle.

No Shurna for Northwestern

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It became official around 12:45 Saturday afternoon that Northwestern forward John Shurna was not cleared to play against No. 1 Ohio State at Welsh-Ryan Arena after suffering a concussion Wednesday night at Minnesota. Not too much of a shocker there, since coach Bill Carmody said on Friday that Shurna's status had improved but that he most likely wasn't symptom free. 
No word on Shurna's replacement as of 4:35 p.m. Tip off is 5.

Bits and pieces from Northwestern practice

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It seems that since Northwestern forward John Shurna has fallen (literally) on some hard luck these past few weeks, it would be the perfect storm for him to get down on himself. But Wildcat center Luka Mirkovic thinks differently and said Friday before practice that Shurna is one tough Cat. Shurna had to have six stitches after colliding with the basket's padded post in the Wildcats' loss at Minnesota Wednesday and later was diagnosed with a concussion.

"Johnny is a tough guy and he'll be fine and I'm sure he'll have something to cover up his stitches [if he plays Saturday]," Mirkovic said. "The guy got hit in the head and he was a little bit out of it, but its normal."

Also on Friday Michael "Juice" Thompson said he has been having issues finding his shot this week. Coach Bill Carmody offered Thompson Thursday off, but Thompson worked out instead on shooting drills.

"[Thursday] was a light practice after playing at Minnesota, and I'm not feeling good with my shot right now and I missed too many shots [5 of 16 from the field] than I normally make," Thompson said. "I just look at it like a shooting slump."

Northwestern's John Shurna still battling concussion

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Northwestern forward John Shurna still has not been cleared to play against undefeated No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday, and coach Bill Carmody said he will not know if the 6-8 junior can play until a mere hours before the 5 p.m. tip off. Shurna suffered a concussion at Minnesota Wednesday night.

Shurna was at practice Friday but sat on the bench wearing a protective boot on his left foot. Shurna is also recovering from a high left ankle sprain. 

The Northwestern loss that irked Dan Persa the most

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It has been very well documented that after Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa suffered a season ending injury against Iowa in November the Wildcats went 0-3 to end the season. With Persa sitting on the sidelines trying to rally backup quarterbacks Evan Watkins and Kain Colter, you wonder what loss was the hardest for Persa to digest. Was it the 48-27 loss to Illinois at Wrigley Field? The 70-23 pasting at Wisconsin? Or the 45-38 near miss against Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl on New Year's Day?

"Wisconsin, because we got beat so bad," Persa said. "Illinois was tough because it was at Wrigley Field and the bowl game was tough, because it was a bowl game and I wanted to help our team win one. But Wisconsin was the worst because we got embarassed and I couldn't do anything about it.

"Being helpless on the sideline [was difficult] when you're used to being so involved and in the last three games you take a backseat. When that's taken away from you, there's a big gap."

Northwestern gets a new running back

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            Jordan Perkins, a three-star running back according to Rivals.com, gave Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald an oral commitment on Saturday, said Perkins' father, Curtis. Jordan Perkins was in Evanston on an official visit with his mother, Joey, Curtis Perkins said.

            Curtis Perkins said his son wanted to commit to the Wildcats Friday, but Fitzgerald did not offically offer until Saturday.

            "My wife said Jordan enjoyed the coaches and Fitzgerald's philosophy on life and how you come out [of NU] as a good young man," Perkins said. "He loved the guys and the town. My wife said he was almost in tears when Fitzgerald offered."

            The road has been arduous for the 5-11, 180-pound Perkins. The senior from Lodi, Calif. orally committed to Stanford in the spring, but when Stanford decided not to inform Perkins of his enrollment status until the end of January Perkins decided to reopen his recruiting. National signing day for football is Feb. 2.

            Curtis Perkins said Stanford did end up telling his son that Perkins' grades were not high enough to enroll at Stanford, despite Perkins' 3.9 GPA.

            "I just don't understand that because Fitzgerald said his grades were excellent," Curtis Perkins said. "They take who they want."

            Jordan Perkins rushed for 1,061 yards and scored 10 touchdowns in seven games for Lodi High School, despite missing the first part of the season with a broken collarbone.

            Perkins should shore up the Wildcats' running game next season. Running backs Scott Concannon (not returning for a fifth year) and Stephen Simmons will graduate and Arby Fields transferred in December. Perkins should compete for a backfield job alongside Adonis Smith, Mike Trumpy and Jacob Schmidt.

Northwestern-Wisconsin game time changed

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To accommodate fans who want to watch both the Northwestern-Wisconsin men's basketball game Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena and the Bears-Packers NFC Championship game at 2 p.m., Wildcat athletics has moved the game time of the NU-Wisconsin game to 11:30 a.m. 

Could Jordan Perkins chose Northwestern?

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Jordan Perkins of Lodi, Calif., a three-star rated running back according to Rivals.com, is scheduled to make an official visit to Northwestern late next week, Perkins' father, Curtis said Thursday. Curtis Perkins said NU is Jordan's No. 1 college choice.

But here's what makes Perkins' story interesting:

Jordan Perkins orally committed to Stanford in April. Since then, coach Jim Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers. And the Stanford admissions office is telling Perkins he won't know if he's admitted to the school until Jan. 28 when he was originally told he'd know by December. National signing day for football is Feb. 2.

"We don't want him to be left out in the cold," Curtis Perkins said.

Which makes Perkins' visit to Evanston all the more important.

Curtis Perkins also said that NU running backs coach Matt McPherson is flying out to Lodi to see Jordan on Friday.

The Wildcats are in need of help in the backfield for 2011 -- maybe more so than usual. Sophomore running back Arby Fields transferred from NU in December and back Scott Concannon decided not to come back for a fifth year, opting to graduate in June. And superback Aaron Nagel, a former Lemont star, is also opting to graduate and not take a fifth year.

If Perkins commits, he would join Adonis Smith, Mike Trumpy and Jacob Schmidt in the rotation of running backs for the Wildcats in 2011.

Northwestern's Cobb finally healthy

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Northwestern freshman JerShon Cobb is improving by the day, and that comes from both maturity and a healed back, according to coach Bill Carmody.

Cobb injured his back in the Wildcats' loss to St. John's last month at Madison Square Garden. He was not 100 percent until the day before the Illinois game Jan. 5 and at least he's not walking like a 70-year old man anymore. (Carmody's words, not mine.)

The 6-5 freshman guard had a strong game against Indiana Sunday, a 93-81 NU win, with 11 points and three three-pointers.

"Most of his scoring was done after the game was decided," Carmody said. "He made some shots and stole a couple balls and he looks like he belongs."


Senior Scott Concannon decided this week not to return to the football team for a fifth year of eligibility. Concannon, a running back, was injured for most of the season with a hip issue. He is on schedule to graduate in June.

Carmody signs extention with Northwestern

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Northwestern men's basketball coach Bill Carmody signed a multi-year extension to stay with the school, Carmody announced Monday. Carmody said the deal had been finalized before the season started in November.
Carmody is in his 11th season at Northwestern after coaching at Princeton. He is 242-192.

Wildcat fans reeling after Illinois loss

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There always has to be a Fire So and So web site with every major coach, isn't there? Whether it is college or pro there's going to be a blog like that. And so there is one for Northwestern men's basketball coach Bill Carmody.

Apparently the Illinois loss Thursday night, an 88-63 thrashing at Assembly Hall, was too much for Wildcat fans to bear and many now are calling for Carmody's head.

Yes, it was their third loss in a row and yes, the Wildcats are 0-3 in the Big Ten and this does  not bode well for their NCAA chances in March. But you have to remember that John Shurna is playing hurt and with a healthy Shurna, NU could have beaten Michigan State (instead of losing by three points).

On the bright side, Shurna was named to the John Wooden Award's midseason top 30 this week. Shurna, who went into the Illinois game leading the Big Ten in scoring with a 21.3 points per game average, earned his place on the list based on his performance in November and December. Being on the list means Shurna has an early edge for the award which will be announced in March during the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament.

Receivers coach Kevin Johns leaving Northwestern

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Northwestern receivers coach Kevin Johns has informed head coach Pat Fitzgerald that he will leave the program for Indiana and new head coach Kevin Wilson, it was learned Monday. Johns will become the Hoosiers' receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Indiana will make a formal announcement on Tuesday.

Johns, 35, first joined NU in 1999 as a graduate assistant and then came on board full time in 2004 and also took up the position of NU's recruiting coordinator in 2008.

Johns had coached such standout NU receivers as former Wildcat Zeke Markshausen and junior Jeremy Ebert, both of whom earned all-Big Ten honors.

Texas Tech beat Northwestern in TicketCity Bowl

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Northwestern's bowl game bad luck continued Saturday, as the Wildcats lost to Texas Tech 45-38 in the TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas in front of over 40,000 fans.

The game ended for the Wildcats with just under 14 seconds to play. Down by a touchdown, NU was driving and quarterback Evan Watkins threw a Hail Mary pass downfield, only to have it intercepted.

The years of futility for the Wildcats in bowl games now add up to 62. The last time NU won a bowl game was the 1949 Rose Bowl over Cal.

This is the third consecutive year the Wildcats have played in a bowl game, the second straight on New Year's Day. NU previously lost in the Alamo Bowl in 2008 and the Outback Bowl in 2010. Both those bowls were lost in overtime.

 

Northwestern's Hunter Bates suffers serious injury

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Safety Hunter Bates suffered a serious leg injury at the 8:19 mark of the fourth quarter. Early indication was that Bates suffered a broken leg, as play had to be stopped for several minutes while Bates was stabilized. Bates left via ambulance.

Texas Tech leads the Wildcats 38-31.

 

Northwestern befuddled by a trick play

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Trick plays weren't on Northwestern's menu during the first half in Dallas Saturday.

Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts tossed a pass to receiver Austin Zouzalik, who then threw a lateral back to Potts and the quarterback rushed into the end zone. The play gave Texas Tech a 17-6 lead. Tech scored again and the Red Raiders went into halftime with a 24-6 advantage.

Tech's Eric Stephens made Cotton Bowl history to start the third quarter when he rushed for an 86-yard touchdown. It was the second-longest TD in the stadium's history. NU trails Tech 31-9 in the third quarter.

Wildcats trailing after one quarter

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After one quarter at the TicketCity Bowl at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas, all I have is one question:

What happened to the fundamentals that the Wildcats were supposed to be re-learning during their 15 bowl practices?

NU had four penalties for 30 yards in the first quarter: a false start, two offsides and a personal foul.

Texas Tech has controlled the clock 8:25 to 6:35 and Tech leads 10-0.

With Mike Trumpy sitting out, backup quarterback Kain Colter has taken some snaps at running back (and has been out at receiver, too) where he looks pretty good. And Venric Mark has also seen time in the backfield.

But that hasn't transcended into yardage. Tech has 119 yards of total offense to NU's 41.

Wildcats trailing after one quarter

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After one quarter at the TicketCity Bowl at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas, all I have is one question:

What happened to the fundamentals that the Wildcats were supposed to be re-learning during their 15 bowl practices?

NU had four penalties for 30 yards in the first quarter: a false start, two offsides and a personal foul.

Texas Tech has controlled the clock 8:25 to 6:35 and Tech leads 10-0.

With Mike Trumpy sitting out, backup quarterback Kain Colter has taken some snaps at running back (and has been out at receiver, too) where he looks pretty good. And Venric Mark has also seen time in the backfield.

But that hasn't transcended into yardage. Tech has 119 yards of total offense to NU's 41.

Wildcats trailing after one quarter

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After one quarter at the TicketCity Bowl at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas, all I have is one question:

What happened to the fundamentals that the Wildcats were supposed to be re-learning during their 15 bowl practices?

NU had four penalties for 30 yards in the first quarter: a false start, two offsides and a personal foul.

Texas Tech has controlled the clock 8:25 to 6:35 and Tech leads 10-0.

With Mike Trumpy sitting out, backup quarterback Kain Colter has taken some snaps at running back (and has been out at receiver, too) where he looks pretty good. And Venric Mark has also seen time in the backfield.

But that hasn't transcended into yardage. Tech has 119 yards of total offense to NU's 41.

Northwestern's Tony Jones out with hamstring injury

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Tony Jones suffered a hamstring injury during the Wisconsin game on Nov. 27 and is sitting out the TicketCity Bowl Saturday in Dallas. 

Northwestern's Trumpy sits out TicketCity Bowl

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In almost no surprise, Northwestern running back Mike Trumpy will not play in the TicketCity Bowl Saturday because of a fractured right wrist. Trumpy has had limited practices leading up to the bowl, but it was determined before the game that Trumpy should not play and not risk further injury.

Also sitting out the bowl game is receiver Tony Jones, who has an unspecified injury. Jones also has had limited practice time leading up to the bowl game.

In ticket news, NU sold out its allotment of 6,000 tickets. It was the third year in a row that NU sold out its bowl ticket allotment.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2010 is the previous archive.

February 2011 is the next archive.

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