HE CATALYZED the 'Cats to a much-needed win over Minnesota and, along the way, replaced Billy McKinney as his school's career-scoring leader. But later that Saturday night John Shurna did nothing more than visit with his family, return to his apartment, respond to some text messages and watch Creighton play on TV before crawling under the covers. There was, for him, no celebration. "I was," he explained Monday, "pretty tired from the game.". . .
HOURS EARLIER, and just minutes after Shurna's record-breaking moment, point Dave Sobolewski was asked if it was one of those proverbial moments he would long remember. "Looking back on my career when I'm older," he said, "I'm sure I'll be telling people I played with the leading scorer. It's been great playing with John, it's definitely been a good year. But we're not done yet. We've got to keep taking care of business.". . .
JOHN SHURNA, on Sunday morning, awoke and wasted not a moment thinking of what he had accomplished the night before. He instead got back to business, joining his teammates at Welsh-Ryan Arena for a little practice. "So I haven't soaked it all in," he would say, speaking of his record. "I'm just getting ready for Michigan. They had a big win and now both teams are playing for a lot tomorrow.". . .
THAT SUNDAY morning the 'Cats first watched some tape of their victory over the Gophs and then turned their attention to the Wolverines, who drop by Welsh-Ryan Tuesday night fresh off a win over Ohio State. Then, for some 25 minutes, they walked through some stuff on the court before disbanding without, again, any reflection on or celebration of the previous night's events. "They know what's in front of them still," explained their coach, Bill Carmody. "They're pretty level.". . .
THAT WAS CLEARLY reflected both by Shurna's demeanor following his special night and by Sobolewski's recognition that the 'Cats still have some unfinished business. "I keep saying this, but there are so many teams that are in the same position as us across conferences," said Carmody, defining that business. "Some of the smaller conferences, it's their tournament they have to win. Some of the bigger conferences, it's all those teams that are in the area we are. At this point, you've just got to get wins. So we have the opportunity and it's good. We're down to the last two weeks and we're playing for something.". . .
THEY ARE PLAYING, of course, to improve their chances of receiving an NCAA tournament bid. So, continued Carmody, "You know it's a big game just like you knew Minnesota was a big game. I think it was you who asked if it (Minnesota) was a must game. I don't know. If we lose tomorrow, we're not out of it. And if we win tomorrow, we're not in it. So it can't be a must win or loss. But you want to win it because it's at home against a ranked team.". . .
JUST SHORT of six weeks ago, on the road against a ranked Michigan team, the 'Cats lost by two in overtime after failing to score on the final possession of regulation. But, when asked what he remembered of that evening, Shurna mentioned not that possession, but the offensive rebounds they gave up as the game roared to its conclusion. "With such a talented team, they're going to take advantage of that," he then said.". . .
THAT NIGHT, in fact, Michigan grabbed off 17 offensive rebounds, the same amount the Gophs did while falling on Saturday at Welsh-Ryan. "It's just going and getting it. Rebounding's a lot of effort," Shurna would say when asked how the 'Cats can prevent those second chances. But more is at work here as well and that is their 1-3-1 zone, a deployment that often makes it harder for them to get one of their bodies on an opponent's body. "I think (that has an effect)," agreed Carmody. "But you think about it, you weigh it. They (Minnesota) had (19) turnovers. So if you play man, maybe you can do a little better boxing out than in a zone. I get that. You're going to have some dunks and crazy emotional things against a 1-3-1 zone. That's going to happen, it happens every once in awhile. But it's two points. Keep going. Everyone says zone defense makes it a little bit harder to rebound. But at this point, it's just going and getting it. Rebounding's a lot of effort. I don't think there are any box-out drills you can do. I think probably the effort, it's from the neck up. You've just got to do it every time, every time, every time.". . .
THAT ZONE, as Carmody mentioned, did flummox the Gophs into 19 turnovers and five of them came on steals by JerShon Cobb, whose season had been mottled by injuries. That Saturday night he started in place of Alex Marcotullio, and even though Carmody had some concern that his presence might disrupt the rhythm of a 'Cat offense that had purred through February. "A little bit, yeah, yeah. I took a little shot there," he admitted Monday. "But I felt even if he's not doing too much (offensively), he steals balls. What can I tell you? He has a lot of steals for the time he's played. Someone said on the teleconference this morning, you didn't get much offensive output from him. Well, he stole four balls and two of them led to layups. That's offensive output. But I was concerned a little bit, but felt, 'Let's try it.' Al's still going to play 25 minutes probably. And I thought the shots JerShon took were really good shots. They were right there.". . .
THE NAKED EYE TEST, in that Goph game, felt the quicker-and-lankier Cobb was a more-disruptive force atop the zone than either Marcotullio or Reggie Hearn. "But last year, he wasn't," said Carmody with a small chuckle. "It's funny. Last year, Al was the guy. You say, he's longer, he's this, he moves a little faster. But Al got all the steals last year. He didn't get any steals last year. Now this year, he seems a lot better. It's crazy. But he made a difference the other night, definitely.". . .
BUT THAT NIGHT, as all the 'Cats know, was over as soon as it was over, and now Michigan is at hand, more business is at hand, another of those games Shurna so openly enjoys is at hand. "All the games are fun," he would finally say on Monday. "I feel I'm pretty fortunate just to be playing Big Ten basketball. So you just go out there and give it your all. That starts again tomorrow with a tough game against Michigan. That's fun. This is what you play for. It's fun and exciting. It's just going out there, us against them, and see who wins."