With the Weber State disaster behind us, the Flyers turn their focus onto the Huskies of Northern Illinois. Was that loss to WSU an embarrassment? Kind of. Would losing to NIU be a disaster? ABSOLUTELY. As you will learn via this informative interview, and in the recon tomorrow, the Huskies are so terribly bad. But alas, we still treat all of our opponents with respect. Unless it is the Celtics. Can we all agree that Rajon Rondo is the biggest dick in the NBA? Anyway, to help us preview NIU, Steve Nitz of The Daily Chronicle was nice enough to take some time out to answer poorly researched questions. That and he also didn’t win the Powerball and therefore has nothing better to do. Steve covers NIU football and basketball and has been feverishly covering the MAC Championship game. Did you all know that if NIU or Kent State has a really good chance of making a BCS game? True story. Read below to learn about the Huskies shooting woes, their youth, Jordan Lynch, and Notre Dame, unbeknownst to us, being located in Chicago.
Don Donoher: It hasn’t been a particularly good start to the basketball season for the fans in DeKalb. The Huskies are off to a 1-5 start, with their only win coming against some school named Judson College. Is this team where you thought they would be? Better? Worse? Sub-question…Northern Illinois IS in the MAC, correct? Because from the look of their schedule, it appears they also play in the Horizon League.
Steve Nitz: Prior to the season, I put the over/under for NIU at 10 wins. Right now, I would probably go under with that number. Don’t get me wrong, I knew this team would face growing pains and struggle, but it appears there might be more growing pains than I expected. It’s going to be a long year for the Huskies, but at the same time you have to put it in perspective – NIU is starting two freshmen and two sophomores, and has six freshmen averaging more than 10 minutes per game. It also doesn’t help that sophomore wing Abdel Nader, the Huskies’ leading scorer last season, is suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. As for the Horizon League not, I like the fact the Huskies play in-state schools like Illinois-Chicago and Loyola. I wish the Illinois schools would play each other more.
DD: Mark Montgomery had a rough first year at the helm, coming out of the gate with a 5-26 record. I think we both can agree that no one expects the Huskies to be world beaters, but 5-26 is pretty brutal. What do you think of Mark’s job so far?
SN: To me, you can’t judge Montgomery on his first season and change, and I think the fans realize that. He inherited a complete mess when he got to Dekalb, as former head coach Ricardo Patton set the program back pretty far. This team is young, so it will be interesting to see how things look in two years. If the ship hasn’t been righted by then, maybe people will change their tune.
DD: According to Google (sorry, I am not the best researcher), there are 347 Division 1 basketball teams. NIU currently ranks 336th in scoring. Needless to say, this is probably one of the weak areas for the Huskies, no?
SN: It’s a weakness for sure. During Saturday’s loss to Loyola, the Huskies scored just 15 points in the first half, if you can believe that. A lot of this is youth, some of it may be luck. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way.
DD: If scoring is a weakness, what is a strength (if any) that the Huskies can use as an advantage against the Flyers?
SN: I think the team has played solid defense so far – it’s the only reason they were even in the Loyola game. After that contest, Ramblers head coach Porter Moser mentioned how hard and tough the Huskies’ defense was. If there is one positive, it’s the fact NIU has played a nice defensive style being so young.
DD: Only one player scores in double figures and that is freshman, Akeem Springs. Probably not a good sign when a freshman is pacing the team at only 10.6 points a game. If the Flyers lock in on Springs, who else on the Huskies can put the ball in the hoop?
SN: Freshman point guard Daveon Balls has shown flashes, and freshmen forward Sam Mader can be a threat on the inside. I’m sure Montomgery wouldn’t mind seeing his team’s most experienced player, junior forward Aksel Bolin, score more.
DD: Fun question, can Jordan Lynch play basketball? Because he sure as hell can play football. Easily the best kept secret in college football, how have the people in DeKalb reacted to his epic season? Any word on if he will return for his senior year?
SN: For anyone who follows NIU football, it’s hard not to hear Lynch’s name mentioned constantly, and deservedly so. He’s not much of an NFL prospect at quarterback, so he will be back for his senior year.
DD: Last question, do you have a prediction for the game? What is your prediction for the Huskies season? And finally, Notre Dame is somewhat near DeKalb (probably? maybe?). What are their chances in the BCS Championship game?
SN: I’ll say Dayton wins by 15. For the Huskies’ season, I’m going to go with 8-9 wins. As for Notre Dame, it’s about three hours from Dekalb, but the way the Chicago media treats the Irish you would think it’s located somewhere in downtown Chicago.
Thank you to Steve for the interview. For appearing on today’s program, he receives an expired gift card from 1993 to Showbiz Pizza.