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    Contemplating Crawford

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    NUsports.com Special Contributor Skip Myslenski caught up with Northwestern senior forward Drew Crawford and head coach Bill Carmody on Saturday, following Friday's announcement that Crawford would miss the remainder of the 2012-13 season to undergo shoulder surgery.

     

     

    The problem had lingered since that January night in Iowa back in 2011. That is when Drew Crawford, then the 'Cats sophomore forward, went up for a rebound, got undercut, threw out his right arm to brace himself for the fall and, on impact, dislocated his shoulder. "That's when it first popped out and I think that's when the damage was done," he recalled Saturday. "Then it's continually got worse."

     

    Still, even as it got worse, he played on. He played on all through last season, averaging 16.1 points-per-game on 48.4 percent shooting, and he played on through the first 10 games of this season, averaging just 13.5 points in them on 40 percent shooting. Between then and now, he would surmise on Saturday, that shoulder would pop out five more times, yet still he wanted to play on. "That was my goal at the beginning of the year," he said.

     

    "I've been playing with this for a couple of years now. It's always been bothering me a little bit. But that's what I wanted to do, play through it. But when it continually bothers you, that's tough to do. It's just one of those things that wasn't getting any better. It keeps holding you back. It gets tough to play with things like that."

     

    "He tried for a few games. But it's so limiting, you can't do what you normally can do. So," 'Cat coach Bill Carmody soon said. So the decision was made to shut Crawford down for the rest of this year, and to seek a medical hardship waiver that will allow him to return next season after he undergoes surgery for a torn labrum.

     

    "It was just one of those tough things," Crawford would say of that decision. "Obviously, I would have loved to finish this season with my team because I think we're a great team, that we're capable of a lot. But it got to the point where I didn't think I could help my team in the best way, and I didn't want to put them through that and I didn't want to myself through that. So that was the decision we had to make."

     

    And just what was it that he couldn't do?

     

    "Probably the biggest thing is the physicality around the basket. When a shot goes up, I'm turning to box out, I got big guys coming behind me, I'm trying to hit them with my arm, and that's popping my shoulder out, and then it's like searing pain. Then it's sore, sore for days after that. It was tough."

     

    Was there a certain moment when he realized he couldn't go on?

     

    "I don't think there was one specific time. It was just something that was continually wearing on me. It didn't seem to really get much better, and I felt like I wasn't helping my team the way I needed to. It's tough. But it's something you have to deal with. . . I knew I was going to have to have surgery eventually. But at the beginning of the season, I was hoping I could finish the year and fight through it. But it continually got worse, and I wasn't able to do that."

     

     

    QUICKLY NOTED: A player is granted a medical hardship waiver if he plays in less than 30 percent of his team's regular-season games. The 'Cats have 32 games on their schedule, making the total 9.6 contests. Crawford has played in 10 games, which is still allowable as the total is able to be rounded up to the next number. So, when asked if he's certain he will be granted the waiver, Carmody said, "We're fine. We did our homework on that.". . . Freshman Kale Abrahamson is likely to start in Crawford's place in the 'Cats next game, which is Monday night at Welsh-Ryan against Texas State. "But I think it's just an opportunity for a bunch of guys," said Carmody, who then mentioned freshman Sanjay Lumpkin and Texas Christian transfer Nikola Cerina as well as Abrahamson. . .  Lumpkin has appeared in only one game after being sideline by mono, but is expected to be available Monday. But Cerina, who sprained his ankle in his only appearance of the season, is still hobbled and, said Carmody, "probably a week away (from returning).". . . "Everyone recognizes the loss," Carmody said when asked how Crawford's decision effected the team, then he went searching for an analogy. "But, again, a few years ago, our football team had this guy, a good quarterback, he got hurt in the last game, they went to a bowl game, they put a new quarterback in, he got about 205 yards rushing."

     

    Kain Colter, someone suggested.

     

    "No. This big guy."

     

    Mike Kafka, someone shouted, thinking of that day he replaced C.J. Bacher and ran wild not in a bowl game, but against Minnesota.

     

    "One of those big guys came in there," Carmody finally said. "I don't want to go Wally Pipp stuff and all. But this is a chance for all these guys to get in there and play. So. They feel bad for him. But now you move on and you go on."

     

    (Scribbler's note: Wally Pipp, a Chicago native, was the starting first baseman for the New York Yankees from the start of the 1915 season through June 1, 1925. But the next day, June  2, he arrived at the stadium with a splitting headache and removed himself from the lineup with the approval of his manager, Miller Huggins. "Wally," he told him, "take the day off. We'll try that kid Gehrig at first today and get you back in there tomorrow." But that was the day Lou Gehrig, The Iron Horse, started his streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive games, and so Pipp never did get back in there.)

    The Morning After - UIC

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    NUsports.com Special Contributor Skip Myslenski takes a look back at Northwestern's 50-44 defeat at the hands of UIC on Saturday.

    * There were the turnovers, 16 turnovers in all. "That's just too many. That's just too many (against an opponent) that's picking you up at the top of the key. There's no pressure, no real pressure," 'Cat coach Bill Carmody would say.

     

    There were the Arctic field-goal shooting percentages, just 34.9 overall (15-of-43) and an even worse 25 on threes (four-of-16). "We were getting decent looks tonight," forward Drew Crawford would say. "But like coach said, some of the shots we normally hit as a team, they just weren't falling tonight. That's tough because we were playing good defense."

     

    There were, finally, those continuous failures at the free throw line, those 10 misses on 20 attempts. "Free throws are just mental," point Dave Sobolewski would say. "Everyone's just got to get in the gym and start taking more and more."

     

    There, in the proverbial nutshell, are the reasons the 'Cats fell by a half-dozen to UIC Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. "Our shots weren't falling and if you have turnovers in the 'teens, it's not a good night," Sobolewski would also say with succinct accuracy.

     

     

    * But nothing, of course, is really that simple, and so here let us recall a comment Carmody made after his team lost to Maryland last Tuesday evening. "We've been struggling a little bit to get what I call the pulse, the tempo of the game," he said that night when considering his team's offense. Then Saturday, on the same subject, he avowed, "I think they know it. They learn it, they have it. It's not that. The guys know what to do. But some of the passes are late, behind guys."

     

    The 'Cat offense, in fact, is very much a work-in-progress right now. At its best, when it is functioning smoothly, it is filled with sharp cuts and hard screens and brisk ball movement, and calls up memories of a beautifully-choreographed dance. But recently, against both the Terps and the Flames, it more resembled (to mix metaphors) a  powerful engine with a couple blown spark plugs. "We definitely need an injection of offense," even Carmody would admit on Saturday. "Maybe (freshman forward) Kale (Abrahamson) can do that. Maybe we can do some thing. They're smothering these two guys"--and here he nodded toward Crawford and Sobolewski, who were sitting next to him on the interview stage--"and we need somebody else out there to take away some of the heat. They're both competitors, and I think they both feel it's on their shoulders. Which I like, OK. But I've got to give them some help."

     

    "Yeah, just because we're the guys with experience," Crawford would later say when asked if he did indeed feel it was on his shoulders. "We've been there before. We've been in a lot of tight games. So, yeah. That's how we want it. There's a lot of pressure on us as guys who have played a lot of minutes. Sometimes it's tough, but you have to grind through it and make plays when you need to."

     

    And does he feel smothered, as Carmody noted?

     

    "A little bit. UIC did a good job. They're a pretty tough and sound defensive team. So we've just got to get everyone going. Everyone's got to be on the same page."

     

     

    * Last Tuesday, against the Terps, the 'Cats shot early (in the shot clock) and often (25 threes) from the outside. On Saturday, at the start, they worked inside-out, hoping to get some help from 7-foot freshman Alex Olah. "We wanted to see if we could get our center to be more aggressive. So we put a few things in there for him and threw it down to him, and I thought he was. He became a little more aggressive in there," Carmody would explain. "It's going to take time with Al, but I saw some pretty good things. He got a few rebounds, blocked a couple shots. We just have to get him to where he's really comfortable down there and aggressive because people are playing our guys pretty tight, these two guys especially, and there's room for somebody to do something down there and not just be a facilitator."

     

    Olah would do a little something down there, grabbing six rebounds and hitting three of his seven shots for six points in his 28 minutes. But MIke Turner, his replacement, had two turnovers and one rebound and no points in his dozen minutes, and there was also this. The usually-reliable Jared Swopshire, the grad student transfer from Louisville, missed the only four shots he took and ended with a bagel; the 'Cat bench, so recently thought to be one of its strengths, chipped in only one field goal (a three by Abrahamson); and through this game's last 13:45, the only 'Cat to score a field goal was the indomitable Crawford.

     

     

    * Still, despite all the turnovers and missed free throws and errant shots, the 'Cats were down just two with under 2:30 remaining. Now Crawford, who had carried them, missed a turnaround jumper from the left elbow and then Swopshire missed a three from the left wing. Underneath, in the scrum, 'Cat Reggie Hearn had prime position, and after he was fouled on the rebound by Flame Daniel Barnes, he made a pair to tie this one up at 44 at 2:09.

     

    Sobolewski, whose will is palpable, now forced a Flame turnover, and if there was one interlude on which this game finally turned, here it came. It began with Crawford facing off against Marc Brown, his nemesis all day; with Crawford working him patiently and intelligently and purposefully; with Crawford finally rising for a 12-foot jump shot from along the right baseline that looked to be good before rimming out. But again, down low, there was Hearn with position, and here he grabbed the rebound and went back up clean for a layup and missed. "At the end there, Drew had one hanging on the rim, Reggie got a nice rebound, put it over. So we're playing with a little bad luck, I think," Carmody would later rue.

     

    Now it was the Flames chance to grab the lead and they went for it with a three, which missed. But the player with position now was Josh Crittle, their center, who grabbed the rebound and made his layup, and after Olah missed a short hook to tie, this one was effectively over. For now the 'Cats started to foul and the Flames, who would end the day 14-of-15 from the line, made their free throws.

     

     

    * Minutes later, when he walked into the interview room, Sobolewski was grim faced. The skin under his right eye was red, as if it had just absorbed a series of stiff jabs. Crawford, too, was tight-lipped, his own face a mask of disappointment. When he sat down he rolled his head, as if he were trying to wake himself from a bad nightmare.

     

    Both would soon answer the questions asked of them. But their portraits spoke louder than any of their words.


    Maryland: The Morning After

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    NUsports.com Special Contributor Skip Myslenski takes a look back at the Northwestern men's basketball team's 77-57 loss to Maryland on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

    Let's delve in analogy to start and think of Maryland, which visited Welsh-Ryan on Tuesday night, as the heavy hitter, that boxer who can reach back and load up and deliver that blow that separates his opponent from his senses. The 'Cats, in contrast, should be viewed as that clever will-o-the-wisp, the slick tactician with the style and the guile and the means of spinning that heavy hitter, of frustrating that heavy hitter, of cutting up that heavy hitter, of robbing that heavy hitter of his legs and finally leaving him gasping for air.

     

    "We knew coming in they were going to be big. We knew they were bigger than us. That was a focus of ours," 'Cat guard Reggie Hearn would say, and that was not all. The Terps also led the ACC in rebounding margin (+15.2) and blocked shots (5.8 pg) and featured Alex Len, a 7-foot-1 center from the Ukraine who himself was averaging 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

     

    "But I thought if we ran through our stuff, we'd get some easy baskets," 'Cat coach Bill Carmody would say. "I thought if we made them guard us for extended periods on the clock--not that we were going to slow it down or anything--but make them guard us. They had some guys I thought we could take advantage of with some movement, and I don't feel we did that. I just thought we were a little too quick on the trigger."

     

    So the 'Cats, to wrap of this allegorical foray, chose to punch it out with the heavy hitter, which is always a mistake for a will-o-the-wisp dependent on wiles. That was emphatically proven when they fell to the Terps by 20.

     

     

    ******

     

               

    Stats never tell the whole story. But they can provide a broad outline, and so let us consider a few. The Terps corralled a dozen offensive rebounds to the 'Cats four, the Terps collected 47 total rebounds to the 'Cats 19, the Terps finished with a dozen second-chance points to the 'Cats seven. "It all goes back to rebounding and it doesn't all fall on the bigs. It falls on the guards just as much," point Dave Sobolewski would later say. "The guards have to stick their nose in there and see if they can pull out some long rebounds or rebounds that hit the floor. It was just a horrible effort on the boards by the whole squad."

     

    Their inside dominance is even more pronounced when parsing just how the Terps put up their 77 points. Fourteen of them came at the line, 15 of them came on three-point shots and a full 44 of them came down low, in the paint. Add those numbers up and you see they had just two other field goals, field goals that came on mid-range jumpers.

     

    Then there was the 'Cats own offense, which is so dependent on that mantra to make shots. Here they did not, finishing just 34 percent overall (18 of 53) and 24 percent on three-point attempts (six-of-25). "We didn't take advantage of our speed and make them work on the defensive end," Hearn would say, echoing his coach. "If those shots go in, it's a different story. But they didn't, so it probably would have been better if we'd run our offense more and make them work on the defensive end."

     

    "We're at our best when we're moving from one thing to the next, and our offense is moving, and we're cutting hard," picked up Sobolewski. "I felt that in the middle part of the game we got a little stagnant. We weren't cutting as hard as we should have been, and that's when it all went downhill."

     

    "I just thought we were shooting the ball too quickly," Carmody said once again. "We tried to address that a few times, but it didn't really take. When you have a pretty decent shooting team and you're open, you feel pretty good about that. But they just weren't going down."

     

     

    ******

     

     

    It was an especially-painful evening for the senior forward Drew Crawford, the 'Cat leader who finished with only 10 points while going four-of-14 overall and just one-of-five on his threes. He was not made available afterward in the interview room. But when asked if his star might be struggling to live up to his billing as the 'Cats man, Carmody said, "There might be something to that. He's definitely pressing. He's a good player. He'll break out of it. But right now he's definitely pressing."

     

     

    ******

     

     

    Still, despite all of that, the 'Cats were down only two when the second half opened, and when Crawford drove the right baseline for a layup just 15 seconds into it, this one was tied at 28. But now their defense, which has been their calling card this season, buckled as the Terps attacked it down low. They got a layup and then, after a Crawford miss, another layup. Now came an offensive rebound by Jared Swopshire and one more Terp layup, a Sobolewski three and a Terp dunk.

     

    Here the pattern had been set and, when the first TV time out came at 14:21, this was the result. The Terps had scored on nine straight possessions, and every one of their baskets had come on a dunk or a layup, and like that their two-point halftime lead was up to 13. The 'Cats tried to slow them here, tried to do that by switching to their 1-3-1 zone out of the time out, but in the next five minutes the Terps shot them out of it with the work of Logan Aronhalt, who drained three threes over that stretch.

     

    After the last of them, at 9:44, the Terps were up 17, and never again would the 'Cats get closer than 16. "Give them credit," Carmody later said. "They came in here, pretty much an even game the first half, then they really stuck it to us in the second half."

     

     

    ******

     

     

    It is still November and this was just the seventh game on the 'Cat schedule. But later, in the interview room, Sobolewski was asked if it had been one of those proverbial statement games, one of those games that allows his team to get a measure of itself. "No it wasn't," he quickly said, bringing a measure of reality to the moment. "It was a November game against an ACC team. It's not the end of the season. We've got a lot of work to do, for sure. We're not going to stop working. If anything, this will make us hungrier to improve everyday in practice. So. It was nothing more than a loss in November."


    Men's Basketball News and Notes

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    Northwestern Names Team Captains

     

    Northwestern's three seniors who are in their fourth year with the program have been named the team's captains for the 2012-13 season. Drew Crawford, Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio have been named the tri-captains. It's the first time since the 1993-94 season that the Wildcats have had three captains when Patrick Baldwin, Todd Leslie and Kevin Rankin each served in the role.

     

    Crawford, Hearn and Marcotullio have combined to lead Northwestern to 62 victories to date in their careers, a total that is closing in on the school record of 76 amassed by last year's senior class.

     

    "All three of those guys have dedicated themselves to moving the program forward," Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said. "They've demonstrated their leadership abilities throughout the summer and fall and into the first month of the season. They've set a great example to all of our younger players."

     

     

    Moore Returns to Northwestern

     

    Fans may have noticed a familiar face has returned to the Northwestern bench this season. Craig Moore, a 2009 graduate of NU and one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in Big Ten history, is serving as a volunteer special assistant for the program.

     

    Moore played professionally in Romania and Holland following his collegiate career. He notched 320 3-point field goals during his time as a Wildcat, a total that ranks fifth in Big Ten history and first in Northwestern annals.

     

    In his current role with the program, he'll be responsible for assisting Director of Operations Joe Kennedy and Assistant Director of Operations Mike Pepple in various administrative tasks as well as video exchange with other schools.

     

    "I'm extremely grateful to Coach Carmody and to Northwestern for the opportunity to return to my alma mater," Moore said. "This was a terrific place to be as a student-athlete and I'm thrilled to be back and help out the program in any way possible."

     

     

    Shurna to Play Professionally in France

     

    Former Wildcat Michael Thompson will have a familiar competitor in France's top professional league this winter. John Shurna, a first-team All-Big Ten selection and an honorable mention Associated Press All-American last season, has signed on to play for SIG Strasbourg. Strasbourg is located in eastern France along the border of Germany.

     

    Shurna, Northwestern's all-time leading scorer, played in the NBA Summer League with the Atlanta Hawks' squad before participating in training camp with the New York Knicks.

     

    Thompson, a 2011 Northwestern grad, is playing for ASVEL in Villeurbanne, France. His teammates include recent Notre Dame standout Tim Abromaitis. The team is off to a 5-2 start and Thompson is averaging 12.0 points and 3.6 assists per contest.

     

     

    What the Future Holds

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    EVANSTON -- One week ago Friday more than 100 Northwestern student-athletes bid farewell to the university armed with the tools to head out into a successful life after college.

     

    Many Wildcats will scatter to every corner of the country and the seniors from the fencing team are no exception. Kerry Bickford, Annelise Eeman, Rebecca Grohman, Chloe McGuffin, Devynn Patterson and Camille Provencal starred together on the strips for four years and the sextet also added scores of honors in the classroom. All six fencers were recently named Academic All-Big Ten honorees.

     

    Bickford, along with swimming's Shelby Johnson and Tobias Reitz from men's tennis, claimed the Northwestern Director's Award for maintaining the highest GPA among all student-athletes. Patterson, along with men's golfer Sam Chien, was a recipient of the Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.

     

    Each of the Wildcats will move on to the "real world" soon. Here are their plans for the future in their own words:

     

    Kerry Bickford - Art History and English:

    "After graduation, I will be spending the summer interning for the Prints and Drawings Department at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as working for the Northwestern Summer Fencing Clinics. In the fall, I hope to pursue a job in museum or gallery work, and eventually plan to apply to graduate school to study Art History. I'm very excited to learn more about my field and to start working toward my ultimate goal of becoming a curator."

     

    Annelise Eeman - History and Religious Studies:

    "This summer I'm interning at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Headquarters in Des Plaines, Ill. Come September, I'll be back in Minnesota, enrolling at Luther Seminary to work on my Master of Arts in Systematic Theology. The plan right now is to work on getting my doctorate to teach, and maybe learning how to coach some fencing locally."

     

    Rebecca Grohman - Sociology and Science in Human Culture:

    "After graduation I am interested in pursuing clinical research before applying to medical school. I am looking forward to working closely with both patients and physicians to learn about different specialties, further my clinical experience and to better prepare me for a career in medicine!"

     

    Chloe McGuffin - Mechanical Engineering:

    "After graduation I will be joining Boeing's commercial aircraft division as a Payloads Engineer. I will be working on the 747 line of aircraft in the Seattle area. I look forward to putting all the skills and knowledge I have gained at Northwestern into practice to improve the experience of air travelers worldwide."


    Devynn Patterson - Learning and Organizational Change:

    "After graduation I will be joining Teach For America as a 2012 Corps Member in the Bay Area! I have been assigned to teach either elementary school or middle school in the South Bay, which is comprised of San Jose, Mountain View and the surrounding areas. I am very excited to begin what will be an eye-opening two-year commitment to help close the nation's educational achievement gap. I look forward to continue working with kids and becoming a teacher!"

     

    Camille Provencal-Dayle - Political Science:

    "After graduation I will be joining Devynn Patterson as a Teach For America 2012 Corps Member in Greater New Orleans. I look forward to teaching secondary math, a subject youth in the United States continue to falling behind in comparison to their international peers. My experience on the Northwestern Fencing team has given me the tools to understand how to motivate and challenge others, as well as learn to be challenged. I am excited to apply skills gained both on the strip and in the classroom to my future students."

    BLOG: Winding Down

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    It's been a busy and exciting time for Northwestern fencing! With the Winter quarter finishing up, so is our season, and everyone can quickly feel the escalation leading up to NCAA Nationals over Spring break. Last weekend, we traveled back to NYC for one more go at some of the best teams in the country. In my last post I promised some exciting news and hopefully some hardware, and I can happily say that I kept that promise!

     

    The foil and saber squads secured bronze medals and the epee squad fought their way to silver, helping Northwestern finish second in overall team standings. With wins over teams such as St. John's, Columbia and Penn, it was a great morale boost heading into the three most important weekends of our season. But with such a whirlwind trip and not getting back to campus until past midnight on Sunday... it was clear that the 'Cats needed some R & R before getting back into to the gym. Have you guys not learned by now that if you pass out, I WILL take a picture of you? Also, shout out to the nice old man who let Kendrick take a catnap on his shoulder.
     


    We spent the week training hard, but keeping it light-hearted as well. It's easy to get caught up in the intensity of post-season action. I know I want to enjoy every moment of the rest of this amazing season, and stressing out never helps! This week we also finished up one of the best fencing clinics we've ever had. Seeing such a fun and lively group of kids get so excited about the sport of fencing really reminds us all why we're here in the first place. Thank you to all the kids for coming out and being so great- I can honestly say we learn from them just as much as they learn from us.
     


    We're loading up the bus and heading out to Notre Dame for the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships, which is sure to be a jam-packed and high-intensity weekend. Saturday is the individual event, while Sunday our squads will duke it out with the best of the conference to hopefully bring home some titles. Follow along on twitter @NCatFencing, and check back for my recap next weekend!

    Go Cats! - D

    Kaylee's Corner: Preseason Secrets

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    Kaylee Pohlmeyer web.JPGWith the Wildcats off to a 3-1 start to the 2011 campaign, senior Kaylee Pohlmeyer takes time out to reflect on what was an eventful stretch of preseason training, on and off the field hockey field.
    Ann Elliott has been a part of multiple NCAA women's lacrosse championships as a player and a coach at Northwestern. But recently she took on a whole new challenge, traveling to Uganda with Fields of Growth International to teach the game of lacrosse to young players. Skip Myslenski sat down with Elliott to recap her amazing experience.

    Ann in Uganda copy 2.JPG

    You are Ann Elliott and you are far removed from your day job as an assistant coach of the women's lacrosse team at Northwestern University. You are instead on a tour of the Bwindi Impenetrable Rain Forest in Southwest Uganda in East Africa, where you are now marveling at the dexterity of your ancient guide. His name is James and he's a Batwa pygmy and even though you have heard he is 78-years old, he is now flitting like a mythical faun through the dense foliage of this place...

    Numerous Former 'Cats Doing Well on the Diamond

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    Yesterday we updated fans on the progress of former Northwestern baseball standout Jake Goebbert who is performing well at Double-A for the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Houston Astros' organization. Goebbert isn't the only former NU player making his mark in professional ball, though, as four other Wildcats are also trying to work their way to the Big Leagues.

    We start off with George Kontos (2004-06) who is the most advanced of any former Northwestern player currently in Minor League Baseball. The right-handed pitcher is putting up impressive numbers for the New York Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. After being a Rule 5 Draft pick of the San Diego Padres in the off-season, Kontos was returned to the Yankees during Spring Training. He has appeared in 27 games this season and sports a 2-1 record with an impressive 2.26 ERA. Kontos is averaging more than a strikeout per inning, fanning 59 batters over 55.2 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to a .200 average. Hopefully, Joe Girardi will have reason to call up a fellow former 'Cat to the Major League squad in the Bronx sometime in the near future.

    Another pitcher who is off to a good start this season is left-hander Eric Jokisch (2008-10). Playing just down the road from Evanston and just up the road from his hometown of Virginia, Jokisch sports a 7-2 record and a 3.24 ERA for the Chicago Cubs' Class A Midwest League affiliate the Peoria Chiefs. He was paired with another pitcher on the Chiefs' squad during the first half of the season and won each of his first seven decisions, all out of the bullpen. With the exception of one hiccup, Jokisch has performed well in his five appearances since being moved into the starting rotation. In three of the starts, he has not allowed an earned run with each of those appearances covering at least six innings.

    Joining Jokisch in the Cubs' organization is catcher Chad Noble (2007-10) who had been a bit of a nomad this season. The Rockwall, Texas, native has bounced around between the Peoria Chiefs, the Boise Hawks and currently the High A Daytona Cubs. Noble has appeared in 32 games overall between the three teams, with 20 coming for Daytona. Overall, he is batting .229 with 10 RBI while playing the most demanding position in baseball.

    Recent grad Chris Lashmet (2008-11) is the most recent Northwestern addition to the professional ranks. He recently joined the Class A State College Spikes of the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization. Lashmet has the rare opportunity to compete in a home stadium that he has already played at as the Spikes' facility is also home to the Penn State Nittany Lions in the spring. Splitting his time between first base and third base, Lashmet is batting .279 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBI in 18 games played.

    We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the one former Wildcat who is currently playing in the Majors as southpaw J.A. Happ (2002-04) is in his second season with the Houston Astros. Happ hasn't received much help from the struggling Astros squad. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in a game seven times this season, but has just a 2-2 record in those contests. He has hit a rough patch, dropping his last seven decisions and is 3-11 overall this year with a 5.76 ERA. He tied a season high with eight strikeouts in just 5 2/3 innings pitched in his most recent outing against the Florida Marlins on July 7. Perhaps his highlight of the season came against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 29 when he socked his first career home run.