Category Archive for More Sports

By
Apr 1, 2014

Northwestern, like any other northern school, is generally not considered a “baseball factory”. The college baseball world is dominated by Sun Belt schools that offer beautiful weather to top recruits. Northwestern baseball players spend much of their season dealing with the grey skies, cold mud, and the unpredictable weather of the Midwest.

Despite these odds, over 20 former Wildcat players have made it to Major League Baseball. Their careers run the gamut, from a magical “One-Hit Wonder” to All-Stars and World Series Champions. One played for the worst team in modern history; one played alongside two of the biggest names in the history of (other) sports; and another was once traded for a future legend. Here is a brief look at Wildcat alums that have played in MLB. Each players debut season is listed in parentheses.

CURRENT PLAYERS

Bo Schultz (2014): Like most Major Leaguers, Schultz’s five-year minor league road to the majors took him through small towns ranging from Geneva, Illinois (home of the Kane County Cougars) to  Reno, Nevada (home of Arizona’s AAA affiliate). However, unlike any rookie before him, his road led to Sydney, Australia. This year’s Opening Day game, played March 22 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, was part of MLB’s effort to expand baseball’s international popularity.

Schultz, a 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher, entered the game in the eighth and threw one scoreless inning, giving up a single hit. The Medill alum will likely serve as a middle reliever for the D-Backs, although he does have starting experience in the minors.

George Kontos (2011):  Kontos, also a right-handed pitcher, made his Major League debut with the Yankees in September 2011. He appeared in seven games that year, pitching six innings and giving up two runs.  After being traded to the Giants in April 2012, he spent the next two seasons in San Francisco, appearing in 96 games out of the bullpen. He contributed to the Giants 2012 World Championship, appearing in one World Series game that year.

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By
Mar 26, 2014

Mike Deneen is InsideNU’s historian. You can follow him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1.

The first line of Anucha Browne’s Wikipedia page was written in 2007, when she won a sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden. The sensational trial in the world’s media capital labeled her as “the woman that sued Isiah.”  However, longtime Northwestern fans know that there is far more to her story. Browne was the greatest player in NU women’s basketball history, setting numerous records that continue to stand nearly 30 years after her graduation. Her legacy continues in today’s NU Athletic Department, where her daughter currently plays in the lacrosse program. 

Anucha’s story began in Brooklyn, New York, where she was one of six children born to Alfred and Alma Browne.  Alfred, an immigrant from Guyana, stressed education to his kids. He and Alma worked hard to afford private schooling for Anucha and her siblings.  Most of their children were not very interested in sports, but Anucha was the exception. As grade school kid, her favorite sport was figure skating; she spent many hours at the neighborhood rink. By the time she reached high school, she grew to 5-foot-10, and the basketball coach at St. Saviour High School convinced her to join the hoops team.

Already with good size, she worked hard to improve her shooting touch. Her talent was so strong that she spent much of her time playing against boys on local playgrounds. Browne quickly became a fine player, averaging over 25 points per game. At the insistence of her parents, she performed well in the classroom, too. Despite her athletic and academic skills, she was not initially recruited by the Wildcats. Her first contact with Northwestern came during a visit to see Vicki, her older sister who was attending NU at the time. Browne introduced herself to the coaching staff and played in a scrimmage.  Coaches were so impressed that she was immediately offered a scholarship. Browne accepted the offer, attracted to Northwestern by its strong mix of academics and athletics.

When Browne enrolled at Northwestern in fall of 1981, women’s basketball was just beginning to become mainstream.  The 1981-82 season was the first year that the Big Ten officially sponsored women’s basketball.  Although Big Ten schools fielded teams during the 1970s, there were no official league standings or conference championships recognized. 1981-82 was also the season the NCAA first sanctioned a women’s championship tournament.  Before 1981, women’s basketball was regulated by the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), a group founded in 1971.

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By
Mar 22, 2014

While wrestling at Crown Point High School, Northwestern redshirt freshman Jason Tsirtsis was a four time Indiana state champion. In his first season of competition at NU, he decided to keep the streak going. He defeated Oklahoma State’s Joshua Kindig to win the 149 lb. NCAA Championship on Saturday night in Oklahoma City. He is the first freshman in Northwestern history to earn a national championship, and he helped NU to secure a ninth place finish at the NCAA.

Tsirtsis won the championship match with a takedown in overtime. After a scoreless first period, Kindig took a 1-0 lead in the second period with an escape. Tsirtsis returned the favor in the third period, scoring an escape to tie the match. Tsirtsis was more aggressive in the overtime session, making a shot at Kindig’s leg. Kindig skillfully worked to avoid the takedown, but Tsirtsis managed to complete the maneuver to score a 3-1 overtime win. The victory eliminated Oklahoma State from the team national championship race, disappointing a large percentage of the sold out crowd.

Tsirtsis, Big Ten champion and Big Ten Freshman of the Year, had a difficult path to the Championship match. Despite winning the nation’s toughest conference, he was seeded fifth in the NCAA tournament. After advancing through the first day of competition, he faced two extreme tests on Friday. First, he was matched against defending NCAA 141 lb. champion Kendric Maple of Oklahoma. The match went into extra time, where Tsirtsis pulled out a 2-1 win. Maple held a 1-0 lead with less than a minute to go in the match, but Jason was able to score an escape point to force overtime. He took the lead on another escape, then literally held on for victory as he prevented Maple from scoring an escape point in the closing seconds of overtime.

The 149 lb. semifinal match was against top-seeded Drake Houdashelt of Missouri.  This match will long be remembered in the history of NU sports. It was another epic overtime match, with the score tied 1-1 on extra time.  Sports writers sometimes use the term “last second escape”….but in this case it was literally true. Houdashelt had control with nine seconds left in OT, but Tsirtsis managed to escape with one second left. Tsirtsis, who had blood dripping down his face, jumped into the arms of Head Coach Drew Pariano to celebrate the upset.

For the second time in three years, Northwestern finished ninth in the final team standings.   NU featured three All-Americans — in addition to Tsirtsis, Junior Pierce Harger finished eighth at 165 lbs., and Junior Mike McMullen finished third in the Heavyweight division.  McMullen’s tournament included an 18 second pin of Indiana’s Adam Chalfant in the consolation semifinal match. McMullen, who was national runner up in 2013, defeated Iowa’s Bobby Telford in the third place match.

This was Northwestern’s ninth top-20 finish in the past ten NCAA championships.  The run has included four national champions (Dustin Fox in 2008, Jake Herbert in 2007 and 2009), and it is not expected to end anytime soon.  All three of this year’s All-Americans will return next season, as will NCAA qualifiers Alex Polizzi and Dominick Malone. In addition, Coach Pariano signed the nation’s top recruiting class this year, which features high school state champs from Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and New Jersey.

 

Kevin Trahan
By
Jan 9, 2014

Tonight, a bunch of random news came out that pertains to Northwestern to varying degrees. None of them are really worth a post, but they’re all worth at least a third of a post, so consider this your Spark Notes of today’s Wildcat news.

Chier Ajou goes to Seton Hall

Just days after announcing that he planned to transfer from Northwestern, 7-foot-2 center Chier Ajou has found a new home. He will transfer to Seton Hall, according to NJ Hoops Haven:

Ajou was never able to be effective at NU, and he’s certainly a project, but the Pirates apparently need a center and Ajou was available. Plus, he’ll be playing for Seton Hall assistant and former Northwestern assistant Fred Hill, who also lured former NU recruit Jaren Sina to the Pirates.

Good for Ajou, who has a pretty incredible story. It’s nice to see him land on his feet.

New “Chicago” uniforms

Northwestern tweeted out this tease that suggests the Wildcats will wear Chicago-themed jerseys against Illinois at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday:

This is yet another shot in the ongoing turf war between Northwestern and Illinois, who both try to claim Chicago. While it’s good marketing for the Wildcats and these jerseys were undoubtedly planned before the season, it won’t help NU’s image if they’re blown out while wearing those jerseys. So that’s more motivation for Sunday.

Notre Dame stealing NU’s thunder

Notre Dame announced today that it will be switching from Adidas to Under Armour. Northwestern can’t be happy about it. The Wildcats marketed themselves as the only area team partnered with the apparel provider, and now the Wildcats not only share a conference with a prime Under Armour school — Maryland, where the company is based — but they also share a market with Notre Dame, which is clearly top dog when it comes to branding.

The Wildcats’ major problem with Adidas was that they didn’t receive enough attention from the provider. They’ve definitely benefitted from Under Armour’s attention, but it won’t help to be behind Notre Dame and Maryland in the pecking order.

Two NU recruits nominated for McDonald’s All-American Game

The nominees for the 2014 McDonald’s All-American game were released on Wednesday, and three of Northwestern’s incoming recruits made the cut. Four-star St. Rita (Ill.) forward Vic Law, three-star Greensburg (In.) guard Bryant McIntosh and three-star Westlake (Oh.) forward Gavin Skelly could be selected for the April 2 game, which features only seniors and will be played at the United Center in Chicago.

The roster will be announced on January 29 and consist of 24 players. It is unlikely Law, Skelly or McIntosh will make the team. Here is the entire list of nominees.

Kevin Trahan
By
Jan 9, 2014

A year ago, Northwestern athletics picked up arguably the biggest recruit in its history. Matt Fitzpatrick — the low amateur at the British Open and the top amateur player in the world — chose to play college golf at Northwestern. However, after just one quarter at the school and without completing a full golf season, Fitzpatrick has decided to withdraw from NU. Via NUSports.com:

“I very much enjoyed my experience at Northwestern,” Fitzpatrick said. “The people, the school and the great city of Chicago all exceeded my expectations. I want to thank Pat, David and my teammates for everything they did for me.

“Based on the opportunities I have right now from a golf perspective, I feel it is important to dedicate 100 percent of my time to the game and have decided to withdraw from university in the U.S.”

NU has built a very strong golf program under coach Pat Goss, but this loss undoubtedly hurts since Fitzpatrick ranked as NU’s No. 2 golfer this fall as a freshman. The Wildcats’ season continues on February 14 at the Big Ten Match Play Championship in Bradenton, Fla.

Josh Rosenblat
By
Dec 31, 2013

The year of 2013 began with a lot of promise for Northwestern sports. By the end, though, much of that hope turned into unmet expectations. Here’s a look back at Northwestern sports in 2013:

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By
Nov 14, 2013

Northwestern wrestling has emerged as one of the strongest programs in the NU athletic department, notching eight top 20 finishes in the past nine seasons. This run includes three individual national championships, multiple individual Big Ten championships and numerous All-Americans. Head coach Drew Pariano helped to sustain the momentum by signing a highly regarded recruiting class on Wednesday. The group includes three members who ranked No. 1 in the nation in their weight class, plus a state champion from Ohio.

Johnny Sebastian (Bergen Catholic High School, New Jersey): Amateur Wrestling News’ #1 ranked 182 pound HS wrestler in the nation

Sebastian was recruited by every major program in the nation.  His Wednesday night commitment was such a big deal that it was covered live online by New Jersey media. You can see a recording of his commitment here. Sebastian, a two-time state champion in high school, chose NU over other Big Ten powers such as Minnesota, Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan.

Stevan Micic (Hanover Central HS, Indiana) AWN’s #1 ranked HS wrestler in the US at 120 lbs.

Micic is a two-time state champion in Indiana, and has accumulated a 95-0 record during the past two seasons. He earned the 119 lb. FILA Cadet freestyle championship in May. Micic chose NU over Ohio State, Iowa, Harvard, and Illinois.

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