Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

April 2012 Archives

Northwestern men's basketball adds Swopshire, Olah

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            Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire and Romanian native Alex Olah of Traders Point Christian Academy in Zionsville, Ind. signed with Northwestern Wednesday.

            The 7-foot Olah averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds for Traders Point and also played in the 2011 FIBA U18 European Championships for Romania.

            Swopshire saw limited action this season for the national semifinalist Cardinals. Swopshire sat out his entire junior year with a groin injury that required surgery. Swopshire, who will graduate from Louisville in May, will be eligible to play for the Wildcats because of the NCAA's new transfer rule. A player does not have to sit out a year if they have graduated and they are working toward a graduate degree in a field that their original school does not offer.

Northwestern opens home season under the lights

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Northwestern announced its first start time for the 2012 football season.

The Wildcats' home opener against Vanderbilt at Ryan Field on Sept. 8 will kick off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Both teams opened the 2010 season against each other in Nashville, with NU beating the Commodores 23-21.

The Wildcats played three night games last season, two of which were at Ryan Field.

Northwestern RB Tyris Jones wants to be remembered

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Northwestern running back Tyris Jones is just one guy among an interesting bunch.

"It's a crazy group," Jones said of the Wildcats' running backs.

Jones, who scored on an eight-yard run during the NU spring game Saturday at Ryan Field, is hoping his eight carries for 16 yards will make enough of an impression on Wildcat coaches to use him more in the fall.

"My focus is to let coaches know that I can play running back on every down," Jones said. "The goal is to show them I could be a starter. I think I did well for what I was given [Saturday], but I think I made strides and I'm excited about that."

Besides Jones, the "crazy group" includes Mike Trumpy -- who has been out with a torn ACL since the Illinois game last October, -- Treyvon Green, Venric Mark, Jordan Perkins and Tim Hanrahan. And then you add freshman recruit Malin Jones of Joliet Catholic to the mix, a running back who racked up over 4,000 career yards in high school, and you've got a pretty decent crew.

But just don't forget about Jones.

"They have no choice but to remember the investment I made in offseason workouts and in spring ball," Jones said. "But if I come out and I digress, it could wipe away a good spring. I need to build on the good spring I had. But this will stick in their minds."

           Northwestern may have an early answer as to who will fill John Shurna's spot in the Wildcats' starting lineup next season.

            A source confirmed Thursday that Louisville's Jared Swopshire will transfer to NU for his fifth year of eligibility and can play immediately. The source said that the NCAA rule on graduate students applies to Swopshire, who will graduate from Louisville in May.

            The rule allows athletes to transfer to another school if they have earned their degree, have one year of eligibility remaining and their current school does not offer the graduate program they wish to study.

            Swopshire, a 6-8 forward, sat out all of his junior season in 2010-11 with a groin injury and only averaged 3.3 points 2.8 rebounds and 13.1 minutes this season. Swopshire only played about four minutes against Kentucky in the Cardinals' national semifinal loss March 31.

            Swopshire replaces Shurna's height in the post. And even though Swopshire won't replace the bulk of Shurna's scoring -- the Glen Ellyn native leaves NU as the program's all-time leading scorer with 2,038 points -- Swopshire will provide the experience of having playing on a Final Four team and give the Wildcats some sorely needed rebounding help.

            Swopshire's departure wasn't exactly surprising in Louisville. In February, coach Rick Pitino announced that Swopshire was transferring for the final year of his eligibility.

            Swopshire's father, Teddy, said his son was also considering Illinois, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Virginia and "about 20-30 mid-major" schools.

            "They made that Final Four run and it didn't leave us with a large window of time," Teddy Swopshire said. "It only gave him two weekends [to visit and decide]. It was a struggle to figure out the next move."

            Teddy Swopshire said his son visited NU last weekend and decided Thursday to transfer.

            Teddy Swopshire also said that Jared's groin injury was not brought up by any school in the transfer process.

            Swopshire started 20 games in 2009-10, his sophomore year, and was the only returning starter from that squad on this year's national semifinalist team.

            Northwestern may have an early answer as to who will fill John Shurna's spot in the Wildcats' starting lineup next season.

            A source confirmed Thursday that Louisville's Jared Swopshire will transfer to NU for his fifth year of eligibility and can play immediately. The source said that the NCAA rule on graduate students applies to Swopshire, who will graduate from Louisville in May.

            The rule allows athletes to transfer to another school if they have earned their degree, have one year of eligibility remaining and their current school does not offer the graduate program they wish to study.

            Swopshire, a 6-8 forward, sat out all of his junior season in 2010-11 with a groin injury and only averaged 3.3 points 2.8 rebounds and 13.1 minutes. Swopshire only played about four minutes against Kentucky in the Cardinals' national semifinal loss March 31.

Wildcats lacrosse remains unbeaten

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            Kelly Amonte Hiller knows better.

            The Northwestern women's lacrosse coach may be friends with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but Amonte Hiller didn't get any inside scoop on the field at Gillette Stadium before the Wildcats' game against No. 14 Ohio State Saturday.

            Belichick's daughter, Amanda, is an Ohio State assistant coach and Amonte Hiller knew Belichick's heart was with the Buckeyes. But that didn't stop the defending national champion Wildcats (10-0), as they beat Ohio State 13-12 in overtime in the second game of a doubleheader at Gillette Stadium -- Syracuse played Harvard in the first game. Erin Fitzgerald scored five goals to put her over 100 for her career and had a career-high six points.

            With the Wildcats playing in an NFL stadium for the second consecutive season -- they played at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas last spring -- this trip was a more of a homecoming for Boston natives Amonte Hiller and midfielder Alex Frank.

            Frank has recovered nicely from the Patriots loss in the Super Bowl, but the healing process may have taken longer since most of Frank's teammates are from the New York area and are Giants fans.

            And Amonte Hiller still lists Patriots quarterback Tom Brady among her top five Boston athletes of all time. So is her brother, Tony on that list?

            "I think he would fit in my top five for sure," she said.

            Here are Amonte Hiller's top five Boston pros in no particular order (except for Larry Bird). And her brother, Tony, among them, of course.

            1. Larry Bird, Celtics: "My No. 1 hands down. I was a huge fan of his growing up.

            2. Bobby Orr, Bruins: "My brother had a house next door to him on the Cape a few years back and we got to know him."

            3. Tom Brady, Patriots: "He is just amazing and my brother and I are huge fans of his."

            4. Karen Smyers, triathlete: "I am a big triathalon fan in Karen Smyers, who is from the Boston area."

            5. Tony Amonte, ex-Blackhawk: "He's always been a role model for me and always drove me to be my best growing up."

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