If you had previously thought that Lincoln Park was just a place where your twenty-something friend lived, with bars on every street corner, and trendy restaurants that Groupon features on a daily basis—you have been misled somewhere along the way.
Possibly some of the miscellaneous and mysterious debit card charges after 3 AM that take place when you visit LP may have contributed to this generalization, but who knows?
In reality, some actual families do reside in Lincoln Park—a neighborhood of northern Chicago that is not to be confused with that garbage-eater rock band, Linkin Park, that was somehow immensely popular in the 7th grade.
Northwestern PG, Michael "Juice" Thompson happens to be one of those few proud residents who was once a Lincoln Park Lion. Upon his high school graduation, he broke the Chicago Public League mold and decided to take his basketball talents to that prestigious university along the lakefront.
Although Northwestern basketball hasn't exactly spelled s-u-c-c-e-s-s over the course of their 110 year history, the point guard named after the macerating of fresh fruits knew one thing—he could play early, and he could play often.
As it turns out, that was exactly the situation. Upon his arrival in Evanston, coach Bill Carmody handed Juice the keys. Granted, the keys weren't so much to a fully-equipped Lexus as they were to a wheelchair with a tatteredd purple and white flag hanging from its tarnished hind wheels.
Nonetheless, he was in charge. He took the reigns of the program and has since become the school's fifth all time leading scorer, and holds the NU records for assists, minutes, games played, and games started. It is safe to say that the "Juice" is the most decorated guard in Northwestern history without ever playing in an NCAA tournament game—or ever realistically vying for a Big 10 title.
What I will say about Thompson, though, is that he doesn't take breaks.
Although his list of post season accolades at Northwestern is about as long as Oliver Twist's grocery list, he has always been there to take the fall. He has been in the top 10 in minutes played during all four years of competition in the Big 10, and has ranked as high as second nationally. He hasn't come out to sip the kool-aid 10 different times this season. That's 10 games, 40 minutes a piece, without ever getting a blow.
The truth is, if you watch Northwestern play basketball, you can't help but notice him.
Never was that more apparent than Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis, during the opening round of the Big 10 tournament. Facing elimination for an NCAA tourney bid at the hands of the ever-underachieving Minnesota Golden Gophers, Thompson exploded for a career-high, and Big 10 tourney record 35 points to keep Northwestern alive for another day.
What may be most impressive about Thompson, though, is the way that he puts it through the twine. His repertoire, featuring both 40-foot pull-ups and mid-lane teardrops, is tough for even the bigger point guards in the nation's most physical league to defend. His use of the window from all angles also assures us of his geometry prowess as a high school sophomore.
With Ohio State next on the tournament schedule, Northwestern's dream may melt faster than the February snow in this mid-March match-up—especially with the way Diebler, Sullinger, and the boys have been "Party(ing) in the OSU.".
Then again, the last time the Wildcats and Buckeyes faced off, it took an Alex "Ill-Advised" Mercotullio arid pass to crush the Cats' bid at an upset. But don't be surprised if the Juice squeezes more out of March than the rest of the basketball world expects.
Before we get into Pick of the Day, a special Chicago Sports Noise shout goes out to my hero, Mark "The Big Detrimental" Blaker for impressively pulling off the persona of Steelers tight end, Heath Miller, on two separate occasions.
Maybe it was the fact that he carried around the pigskin for the majority of the night and lobbed himself replica TD catches. Or, it may have been the fact that he was spewing Heath's fantasy stats to random passersby like he was a four time fantasy owner of the forgettable blocking specialist.
Either way, it all culminated with his taking a late night picture posing as himself (Heath Miller) with two sizable Steelers fans at a local McDonald's. One up yourself Big Blake, you earned it.
As for Pick of the Day, the Pulse Man likes the Celtics to win by more than two in Philly on Friday night. It's St. Patrick's day, after all, lets channel our inner Celtic Pride.
Just another great movie performance by Shooter McGavin.
Pick of the Day: Celtics (-2) @ 76ers- CELTICS
Now I'm done. Rack me