Northwestern has dropped two consecutive down-to-the-wire games, and four of its last five overall, but the frustrated Wildcats aren’t dwelling on the skid.
With each game carrying significant tournament implications, the Wildcats are focused on fixing their errors and ending their losing skid.
“We’re focused on what we can improve upon and try to make sure the results are different next time,” said Northwestern senior forward John Shurna.
The Wildcats have dropped a one-point decision against in-state rival Illinois, then lost in overtime against No. 13 Michigan one week later; each loss counting as a major missed opportunity to boost NU’s tournament résumé.
Northwestern faces yet another tough challenge on Saturday afternoon, when it hosts No. 6 Michigan State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. After the two heartbreakers, the Wildcats hope to use each loss as a learning experience.
“It’s disappointing, but you can’t look back on it now,” Shurna said. “You have to learn from it and move on to the next game. We looked at film, tried to see what we can improve upon, and now just get ready for Michigan State.”
The Spartans can relate to what Northwestern is going through. They started the season with two straight losses—though those came against North Carolina and Duke. Since then, Michigan State has rattled off 15 consecutive wins.
Northwestern is expecting a difficult challenge from Tom Izzo’s first-place team.
“They’re undefeated in the Big Ten so far,” said Shurna. “(MSU is) a big, physical team, and well-coached. It’s going to be a tough one, but should be a fun one.”
Despite the difficult stretch, the Wildcats are looking to get off the schneid, and return to their winning ways. Shurna fears a negative attitude could be a distraction going forward.
“We’ve lost two close ones, now we’ve got to move on,” he said. “If you keep reflecting, you’re going to get knocked out by the next team. We’re just focused on Michigan State right now.”