Wildcat of the Week: Taylor Thornton & Jessica Russo

Remember those dark times in December when the football team is struggling and the basketball team is beginning to disappoint? We find ourselves saying: When does lacrosse season start?

It is starting to get warm in Evanston and the Wildcats are finally home. Yes, lacrosse season has started. And victories are piling up as the team maintains a stronger than ever hold on the No. 1 overall ranking and that national championship goal.

Thornton continues to pour in numbers in what is looking like another incredible season for the junior. Thornton recorded her first hat trick in a 19-7 win over William & Mary. That brought her season total to eight goals on the year. Russo had four goals in that game too, bringing her total to nine on the year.

Those are not at the elite levels of Shannon Smith (18 goals) or Erin Fitzgerald (12), but these are probably the two players Northwestern is going to need in support when the stakes get higher. It is not always the stars that win championships, but those secondary and role players.

It was a 2-0 week for the Wildcats thanks to a 16-7 win at Louisville too. Northwestern put an 11-2 onslaught in the first half in the very easy victory. Thornton added a goal in the game.

Yes, lacrosse season has started. We can finally expect more than just victory from our teams.

Honorable Mentions

Jeremy Ebert & Brian Peters, Football: Both Ebert and Peters did not get the invite to the NFL Combine. But both seemed to help their NFL Draft stock during Northwestern’s Pro Day. From Derek Leazer of Cat Scratch Reader:

 

Our first prospect is none other than free safety, Brian Peters, who I believe the Panthers should strongly consider if he happens to fall to the 5th round. For a man his size(6′ 3″, 215 lbs), he was able to put up some very impressive numbers. Namely, a 4.6 forty and a 6.69 three cone drill, the last of which would have been tied for second best at the combine. This drill measures how well a prospect can change directions at high speeds, a necessity at the next level. Personally, if he is available at our pick in the 5th round, he’d be on my short list of prospects to draft at that point. Join me after the jump to take a look at the other two prospects from the Northwestern pro day who I believe should get some consideration from the Panthers.

 

Next up is wide receiver, Jeremy Ebert, who was able to turn some heads at Northwestern’s pro day by running a 4.38 forty, and bench pressing 225 lbs 16 times. It is important to note that his forty would have been good enough for second best had he been invited to the combine. Ebert projects very well as a slot receiver at the next level, and you can see this clearly in his highlight videos. He actually has a chance to sneak into the 4th round, but I suspect he could be had in a later round.

 

This is telling analysis. Both players seemed to really perform well at Pro Day, and it is looking like both are potential late round steals. Great work from those guys. Looking forward to seeing them play on Sundays!

Kate Turvy, Women’s Tennis: It is always good to beat Illinois. Whether it is making the NIT ahead of them (positives!) or winning a swim meet, we like beating Illinois. So when you beat them 11 straight times… you might be one of our favorite teams on campus. That is what Turvy and Northwestern did in Champaign on Saturday. Turvy defeated Marisa Lambropolous at No. 1 singles in straight sets to lead NU to a 5-2 victory. Her singles win clinched the match for the Wildcats. She also teamed up with Belinda Niu at No. 2 doubles for an 8-1 victory.

Kevin Coble, Men’s Basketball: Continuing with former Wildcats in pro sports, Coble has resurfaced on the basketball court. No matter what you think of how he (and/or Bill Carmody) handled his injury and the subsequent decision not to play out his final season, Coble is still part of the Wildcat family and still one of the great players in the program’s history. He still had a lot to contribute to the world (basketball or otherwise). And Coble probably needed a break. It is good, though, to hear that his name has resurfaced on the basketball court.

Coble has caught on in the D-League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (best nickname ever!). Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago caught up with him and Coble had this to say:

 

“I needed to know at least one way or the other,” Coble said. “I sided on the side of regretting doing something rather than regretting not doing something about it.”

Coble left Northwestern prior to the 2010-2011 season after disagreeing with the school’s medical staff on how to handle his foot injury. The Wildcats went onto to reach the NIT quarterfinals without him.

“I think about it here and there,” Coble said of leaving Northwestern. “I’ve really tried to move on. I know my position and know what I did. I’ve made peace with it. It’s not something I dwell on.”

 

Coble has moved on from Northwestern and is trying to get back on the court. He has been working a lot with assistant coach Christian Laettner, according to Powers, and has even gotten some run with the Mad Ants. In five games and 6.8 minutes per game, Coble is averaging 1.4 points per game and is shooting 28.6 percent from the floor. This is definitely not the Coble we know and remember.

But hopefully he is on his way back. Either way, it is great to see Coble get back on the horse. I know that I wish him the best.

  • Dozer

    Love Taylor Thornton and Jessica Russo. Both of them (and really, the entire team) are a joy to watch.

    Given how much everyone is hurting from basketball, I’m hoping that those who are able make the trip to Lakeside Field to watch the team play– next opportunity is Saturday at noon CT vs. UMass. Watching some NU domination will do us all a lot of good.

  • NUNUNU

    They letting Fitz hold the stopwatch on those times?

    If Ebert runs a 4.38 40, the ‘Cats really underutilized him last year down the field. He is amazing and I hope he does get drafted, but a top 5 speed WR in the nation, I doubt it.

  • Jim

    WLAX Stats and April-May Madness

    LTP posters can now apply their NCAA Bball “bubble stat skills” to WLAX. By following this site, you’ll appreciate how KAH puts together her NCAA runs: http://www.laxpower.com/common/college_women.php.

    As WLAX moves through April, they face their stiffest competition at home ( #2 North Carolina, etc. ) leading to the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament ( hosted by # 5 Florida ). It is becoming an NU tradition that success in these contests in April and early May buttress an already solid resume. In recent years, the team stats reflecting success through this seasonal juncture, make Lakeside Field a lock for home field advantage for the first two games of the NCAA tournament.
    The strategy, the talent and KAH’s coaching promise a lot of fun even if you’re a lax novice.

    The roller coaster ride of the Cats bball bubble experience has its silver lining. We’re all getting more comfortable chatting about RPI’s, SOS’s ad nauseum. WLAX provides an opportunity to take your stat skills to another level. Looking at the rest of the great unwashed from the Championship level.

    Go Cats !

  • cece

    nice to see that first year players are making it into the lineup…Casey Bocklet even scoring goals regularly. Alex Frank playing some really fine midfield defense. Kara Mupo with some awesome passing. believe that first year Alaska (Brooks Lawler) scored a goal. what is the status of Shannon Smith’s injury? sad to see her go down after the amazing behind the back goal.

    hey, if Shurna shows up regularly to Lax, it should be on every NU fan’s radar!

    • zeek

      “ILWomen.com ‏ @ILWomen Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
      Scary moment when Shannon Smith left @NULax’s game vs. W&M with a left ankle injury. XRays have shown she’s in the clear. No damage.”

      From Inside Lacrosse’s twitter.

  • Jim

    Good to hear that Shannon’s ok. ( She won the Tewaaraton among other major awards last year as a Junior.) Having her on the field is important even if she isn’t dominating the scoring. It will be really interesting to see how her role evolves this year. It appears to me, in contrast to this time last year, that there is an arsenal of offensive depth to this team. The fact that Shannon’s not shooting the lights out at this juncture is deceptive.
    She’ll always be drawing the double or triple team, freeing up the supporting offensive arsenal. Here’s where the coaching skill of KAH becomes lethal as the year goes on. She’s great at making adjustments and exploiting what other teams are giving her. As the season progresses, I sense that this could become a dominant team.

  • cece

    Shannon is really good, but having others good there really opens things up. Last year Kara Mupo got going really fast as a first year player, and before and after her return from the injury this year, she’s doing really well. Kara’s passes are outstanding, reminders of Hannah Nielsen. Erin Fitzgerald is a standout. The first year Casey Bocklet has played lots. And in the last game putting Taylor in a way to highlight her scoring ability must really scare opponents. let’s not forget Alex Frank who steps up when things get dicey.

    remember, HilBo went down and that was a real loss. but things opened up and in popped Trixie. KAH has a talent for knowing how to mix it up to take pressure off stars and plan for injuries. it’s mighty fun out there on the lakefront!