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    Northwestern Opens 2011-12 Season With UTPA Sunday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Senior Nick Fruendt scored a game-high 17 points in the Wildcats' exhibition win on Monday.
    Senior Nick Fruendt scored a game-high 17 points in the Wildcats' exhibition win on Monday.

    Nov. 11, 2011

    Northwestern vs. Texas-Pan American
    Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011
    Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
    Evanston, Ill. • 6 p.m.
    Big Ten Network (Eric Collins and Shon Morris)
    Audio: WIND 560 AM and (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle); WNUR 89.3 FM and
    In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
    Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
    Tickets:Available at, by calling 888-GO-PURPLE or at Welsh-Ryan Arena prior to the game

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern opens up its 2011-12 men's basketball season Sunday evening as it hosts Texas-Pan American at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. with Big Ten Network providing live television coverage.

    NU is 7-4 in season-openers under head coach Bill Carmody, including a 97-78 win at Northern Illinois last year behind 31 points and nine rebounds by John Shurna. Northwestern is 6-5 in home-openers during the Carmody era. The 'Cats took down Arkansas-Pine Bluff 71-45 in last season's first home game.

    Northwestern downed NAIA foe Robert Morris (Ill.) 99-48 on Monday in the Wildcats' lone exhibition game. Nick Fruendt paced seven NU players in double figures with 17 points.

    Northwestern has won all six previous meetings with UTPA. The Wildcats held off the Broncs for a 77-71 win Nov. 17, 2010 in Edinburg, Texas. Drew Crawford led NU with 22 points and eight rebounds while John Shurna added 20 points.



    • The Broncs opened their season with a contest at DePaul on Friday night. UTPA posted a 6-25 record a year ago and is a member of the Great West Conference.
    • Junior guards Brandon Provost and Aaron Urbanus are the team's leading returning scorers as both players averaged 12.5 points per game last season and made a combined 152 3-pointers.
    • Ryan Marks is in his third season as the head coach at UTPA.

    Northwestern is coming off its third straight postseason appearance--a program best--advancing to the NIT quarterfinal round before falling 69-66 at Washington State in overtime. The Wildcats have posted a school-record 20 wins in each of the last two seasons. This year's senior class has posted 57 wins over the last three campaigns, just eight shy of the school record of 65 set by last year's class.

    NU welcomes back nine letterwinners, including four starters, from last year's squad which made the deepest postseason run in school history. Northwestern returns 73.8 percent of its scoring and 84.4 percent of its rebounding from last season.

    Senior forward John Shurna has been named a second-team preseason All-American by Sporting News and a third-team choice of Athlon Sports. He has also been named to the watch list for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Award for the second consecutive season. Shurna averaged a team-best 16.6 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds per contest in 2010-11 as he was named a third-team All-Big Ten selection. He was also a second-team all-conference pick as a sophomore. The last NU player to earn three career All-Big Ten laurels was Evan Eschmeyer who was a first-team honoree in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

    Northwestern's scoring record of 1,900 career points has stood since 1977 when Billy McKinney completed his collegiate eligibility. John Shurna enters his senior year in 10th place on NU's career scoring list with 1,377 career points, 523 shy of McKinney's top spot. Shurna scored a school single-season record 619 points as a sophomore and 531 points last season as a junior.

    In each of the last two seasons, Northwestern started its campaign with at least nine wins in its first 11 games. In 2009-10, NU opened 10-1 en route to earning a No. 25 national ranking. Prior to that season, the Wildcats last posted nine wins in their first 11 contests in the 1993-94 campaign. Each of the last two years, the Wildcats have notched a school-record five wins (5-1) in the month of November. The 2010-11 'Cats finished the program's first undefeated November when playing at least three games.

    In head coach Bill Carmody's first 11 seasons in Evanston, the Wildcats have recorded at least six Big Ten victories seven times. The program totaled six or more conference wins just five times in the previous 31 years prior to Carmody's arrival.

    When the Wildcats tallied at least 70 points last season, their record was 18-1. NU's record fell to 2-13 when it posted 69 points or less.

    Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats led the Big Ten and ranked 10th in the nation with an average of 16.7 assists per game last season. NU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.70 (568 assists, 335 turnovers) was the nation's second-best mark, barely trailing only Wisconsin (1.71). The 'Cats also finished third nationally with an average of only 9.9 turnovers per game.

    Junior guard Alex Marcotullio spent his second consecutive summer playing for Great Britain at the FIBA U-20 European Championships in Bosnia. He averaged 16.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game during this year's tournament and then based on his performance was invited to try out for Great Britain's National Team. Marcotullio posted his best totals in the team's final tournament game, recording 24 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Iceland. He also hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in an 83-82 victory over Israel.

    The Wildcats posted a 13-4 home record last season with three of the losses coming to teams that were nationally ranked at the time (Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State). After setting a program best with 13 home wins in 2008-09, the Wildcats established a new mark with 15 victories at Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2009-10. Northwestern has a 38-3 home record against unranked opponents over the last three seasons.

    Fred Hill is the newest member of the Wildcats' coaching staff, joining Northwestern as an assistant in the offseason. Hill was most recently the head coach at Rutgers from 2006-10 after serving one year there as the associate head coach. He has also served as an assistant at Villanova, Seton Hall, Fairleigh Dickinson, Maine, Marquette, Rider, Lehigh and Montclair State. Hill replaces Mitch Henderson who was hired as the head coach at Princeton University, his alma mater.

    UP NEXT...
    Northwestern travels to Charleston, S.C., to participate in the Charleston Classic Nov. 17, 18 and 20. The Wildcats open tournament play by taking on LSU at 2 p.m. Central time Thursday. The contest is being televised live by ESPNU.


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