With Juice Thompson gone, Northwestern forward John Shurna has stepped into a new role as the clear face of the Wildcats' basketball program. Shurna has been stellar the past two seasons, averaging 18.2 and 16.5 points per game in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, respectively. Last season, Shurna dealt with injuries throughout the year but still was able to lead the 'Cats in scoring per game. Without second-leading scorer Juice Thompson on the team this year, even more pressure is on the senior as Northwestern looks to make its first ever NCAA tournament.
So, it’s senior year. What are you excited about coming into the season?
We have a lot of good veteran guys coming back and we also have some young freshmen that are really helping us, so I think it should be an exciting year.
Juice is gone. How do you feel being the new face of the program, or do you feel that way at all?
It’s just all about the team. We just want to accomplish team goals and I think that’s going to be important for us this year. Just unity and building strong bonds with each other, I think that will really help us out.
You’ve seen the hype that’s surrounded Dan Persa this year. Do you feel any of that pressure, want that campaign — some Shurna Strong?
I don’t know about that. Dan’s a heck of a football player. Like I said, just focus on the team and I just want to win a lot of games this year.
Last season you had some injury trouble. How do you plan to recover from that and how do you feel now?
You just can’t look at the past. Just keep giving it your all and keep going out and being competitive each day.
Football is kind of struggling right now. Do you guys feel that pressure to bring some wins to campus?
I think the football team’s really a good program and they have a lot of good players. They’ve lost some tough games, but I think everyone knows how good they are and I think it’s good to support them. They have great coaches and they have great players and they’re fun to watch. It’s not over. I think they’re going to win a lot of games here at the end so it should be an exciting year for them.
Anything specific you’re going to do to try to get to that dance in March?
Just take it one game at a time. I think a big thing for us is going to be consistency. I think we proved that we can play with the best teams, but we have to do that night in and night out.
Anything else you want to say about the season starting next week?
It’s just going to be an exciting year. I think we’ve got a lot of talented guys that are working hard and like I said, it should be fun.
If you could play for any fictional team, which would you play for?
Oh wow. That’s a good question; that’s a fun one. Can I give multiple answers? Well, the first one would be — I’m a Harry Potter fan so Quidditch, Gryffindor -- that’d be pretty legit. Being coached by Denzel Washington would be pretty cool — Remember the Titans. I’m trying to think of some other ones. Space Jam would be cool — Bugs Bunny. I’m trying to think of Heavyweights but there’s no actual team in that. Oh, Dodgeball, there you go. What is it, Average Joes? Vince Vaughn? That’d be a good one. Somehow, Tony Perkis [from Heavyweights] is my coach. This is my favorite question I think I’ve ever gotten.