Men’s Basketball: Alex Olah sets career blocks record as Northwestern extends win streak


Luke Vogelzang/The Daily Northwestern

Alex Olah goes in for the layup. The junior center recorded his 137th career block on Wednesday, breaking John Shurna’s all-time Northwestern record in the category.

Bobby Pillote, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

Six minutes into the first half of Northwestern’s game against Indiana, Alex Olah sealed his place in the Wildcats’ record books.

The junior center pivoted under his own basket and swatted away an incoming layup, recording his 137th career block to pass former NU great John Shurna and take his place as the Cats’ all-time leader in the category.

“It feels great. It’s an honor,” Olah said of setting the record. “I’m a big part of Northwestern history now. I’m going to try and make (the record) impossible to beat.”

The historic block was one of two Wednesday night for Olah, who otherwise had a strong showing in the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Over the course of this season he’s been one of the premier rim protectors in the Big Ten, ranking second in the conference with 1.9 swats per game.

“He’s worked, he’s changed his body,” coach Chris Collins said. “I’m just really proud of him. He’s become a force in this league.”

That dominance under the basket has been a boon to NU’s recent success. Olah had five blocks, a season high, to spark the upset win over Iowa that launched the Cats’ streak and recorded a combined four more in ensuing victories over Minnesota and Penn State.

The uptick in production is due to Olah’s position as the centerpiece of NU’s recently installed 2-3 zone defense. No longer the victim of pick-and-rolls, Olah is free to sit under the basket, which he said allows him to better see the action on the court.

The big man now has 52 blocks this season, nearly half the team’s total 113. Even with the impressive season he’s having, Olah is still well short of the single-game and single-season block records, both of which are held by Jim Pitts.

Pitts recorded the first triple-double in Cats history, producing 10 blocks against Purdue in 1966 to contribute to his total of 123 that season.

But despite the significance of Olah’s accomplishment, Collins has his eyes focused on the future.

“I have great respect for the history of the program,” Collins said, “but for me it’s all about what we’re doing going forward. … Hopefully we see a lot more blocked shots in the next year and a little bit of change.”

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