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Northwestern basketball preview: How does Northwestern replace John Shurna?

The leading scorer in program history is gone, as John Shurna has graduated and is now playing professionally in France. Can the team replace his scoring, and if so, who does it?


Sure Northwestern basketball season already started. Yeah, that game against Mississippi Valley State was pretty much what we've been waiting the whole offseason for and totally had a major impact on Northwestern's NCAA Tournament chances (wanks)

Anyway, here's a bunch of posts about Northwestern's upcoming basketball season where SoP's contributors got together to say how they felt about the team. We wanna hear what you have to say too!

Today: Last year, we asked how Northwestern would replace Juice Thompson and analyzed his absence, who more or less put the team on his diminutive back in 2010-2011. The answer, quite frankly, was simple. John Shurna stepped up, led the Big Ten in scoring, and brought Northwestern once again to the brink of the NCAA Tournament.Of course, they didn't get there. Shurna has already played summer league with the Hawks, preseason with the Knicks, and now is with Strasbourg in France. Well, another year, another star player leaves, as Northwestern will now try to make do without Shurna. How will they replace his production? Can they? Let's see what the SoP staff has to say:


The simple answer is that Drew Crawford replaces Shurna as the number one scorer, but it's not that easy. Crawford really has to make "the leap" from star to superstar bringing it on a nightly basis, not fade in and out of games and drive to the basket more, cutting out some of those contested ill-advised jumpers we've seen in his career. Let's say Crawford does indeed match Shurna's output of last year which is a tall task, but possible seeing as he is a better athlete (read: not 100% white) than Shurna. Then who else scores? So, I guess I'm saying it won't be as much about replacing Shurna as it will be who can replace Crawford in the number 2 role. Dave Sobolewski and Reggie Hearn should mature and raise their game, but neither of them are a number two caliber guy so it is really going to have to be by committee unless one of the newcomers makes a bigger impact than expected.


Given the youth on the team and all the new faces, it's probably going to be by committee. One game it might be Reggie Hearn, the next it might be Tre Demps, and the next it might be Kyle Abrahamson. It just depends on matchups and who brings his game that day. Then again, I thought our football team's running back position would be filled by committee, since I totally did not anticipate the break-out of Venric Mark. So you never know.
But besides Drew Crawford, we don't seem to have any pure offensive players, unless one of the freshmen emerge, in which case, I wouldn't necessarily count on them for any consistency. Fortunately for the 'Cats, they have a depth of players who all bring something to the table. It'll be up to Bill Carmody to figure out the right lineup mix and identify the hot hand.


I don't see how they can, Shurna was a incredible scorer, and while Drew Crawford potentially could reach Shurna's level, he was already on the team last year and quite good.

Northwestern's offense is going to be worse than it was last year, almost for sure. To improve on last year's record, the defense and rebounding will have to get a lot better. The good news is there are lots of new guys with size and/or athleticism. It looks like Jared Swopshire and Alex Olah will be the starters at the 4 and 5, and those two should improve rebounding and interior defense significantly. Of course, there's really nowhere to go but up in those categories after last year's dismal performance.


I think the question isn't replacing Shurna, which is kinda a dumb thing to say since I'm the one who asked. I think Drew Crawford pretty easily fills in the role as NU's leading scorer, although he might be a less prolific scorer than Shurna. But the question remains: who fills in for Crawford's scoring? I'm not sure Northwestern has a go-to second option like Crawford. I don't think that's a major problem - the system can succeed with a few guys sharing numbers and doesn't need superstars - but the contributions from guys 2-5 have to be there consistently for Northwestern to win, or else teams will just throw everything they have at Crawford without paying the price. Loretta is exactly right that it's possible to make up for Shurna's scoring with defense and rebounding from Swop and Olah.