Collegiate Baseball Newspaper released its preseason poll Dec. 20 and though Northern Illinois did not receive votes in the poll, 11 of the Huskies 28 opponents in 2012 received votes in the first edition. Florida was the voters top-prediction to win the 2012 national championship, upending two-time reigning national champion South Carolina.
Three of the teams in the poll (Arizona State, Oregon State and St. John's) appeared in the top-40, while the rest of the eight teams also received votes and are considered to be in the top-100. There are 300 teams in the NCAA's Division I fielding baseball programs. The Huskies will open the season Feb. 17 at Tennessee at 3 p.m. central time and are one the team's also receiving votes.
Former Northern Illinois baseball player Andy Deain (2006-09) recently made headlines in the Northwest Herald this week as he was named the pitching coach at Prairie Ridge High School, his alma mater. Deain was one of Prairie Ridge's top pitchers in his two varsity seasons before missing his senior season, finishing 22-1 his sophomore and junior seasons. With the Huskies, Deain had an outstanding pitching career (mostly in relief) finishing with a 14-3 record, 11 saves and 122 strikeouts.
Basketball dominated the schedule this week, as both the men's and women's teams played a pair of games during the first week of winter break. Men's Basketball: They hung tough in both contests, but the Huskies dropped a pair of non-conference games at the NIU Convocation Center against DePaul and Southern Illinois. Wednesday against the Blue Demons of DePaul, the Huskies were within striking distance for all of the first half and part of the second, but turnovers and hot shooting by the visitors resulted in a 75-52 Huskie loss. The team followed that up Saturday with a 62-49 defeat against the instate rival Salukis.
Northern Illinois split their pair of the games during the week by defeating Indiana and losing to UIC. The Huskies lost a tough, defensive struggle Wednesday night against the Flames, 49-47, after UIC scored on a jumper with 1.1 seconds remaining. However, the team found themselves on the other side of a close game Saturday at Indiana, when Courtney Shelton drained a three with nine seconds left in the game to send NIU to a 60-59 upset, resulting in the team's first win against a Big Ten opponent since 2006.
Northern Illinois will host three events this week before the Christmas weekend. On Tuesday, NIU men's basketball welcomes Valparaiso to the Convo for a 7 p.m. tilt. Wednesday, the wrestling team hosts Kent State, Cleveland State and Cumberland in a quad meet, which begins at 11 a.m. inside Victor E. Court. Women's basketball wraps up NIU's pre-Christmas schedule Thursday night when they take on Indiana State at 7 p.m.
By Joe Summins on December 16, 2011 12:06 PM
The Northern Illinois University football team saw 12 Huskies named to Phil Steele's 2011 Postseason All-MAC Team. NIU had four first teamers, three on offense and one special teams. 2011 Vern Smith Award winner Chandler Harnish, center Scott Wedige, left tackle Trevor Olson and kick returner Tommylee Lewis earned first team honors.
Running back Jasmin Hopkins, defensive linemen Sean Progar and Ron Newcomb, linebacker Pat Schiller and kicker Mathew Sims were all second-team honorees. Northern Illinois also had three third-team selections; wide receiver Nathan Palmer, offensive lineman Joe Pawlak and defensive back Jimmie Ward.
NIU had nine All-MAC selections as voted on by the league's coaches. Eight of the 12 Huskies on Phil Steele's All-MAC team garnered accolades from league coaches. Lewis, Newcomb, Pawlak and Schiller were earning All-MAC honors for the first time this season.
By Joe Summins on December 15, 2011 9:48 AM
It has been just over since Dave Doeren was announced as Northern Illinois University's 21st head football coach. What a difference a year makes. Doeren has led NIU to its first Mid-American Conference championship since 1983 and a berth in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl. Ryan Wood of the Daily Chronicle visited with Doeren after yesterday's practice to get his thought's on his first season as a head coach in this Q&A.
The Northern Illinois football program has been named to the American Football Coaches Association's honorable mention list for the 2011 Academic Achievement Award, presented by the Touchdown Club of Memphis.
Based on the NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of football student-athletes who enrolled in 2004, the award is given annually to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team with the highest GSR, at least 15 students in the GSR cohort and a Federal Graduation Rate of 75 percent or better. Boise State and Miami (Ohio) shared this year's Academic Achievement Award with a 100 percent graduation rate, while Northern Illinois was one of 44 schools named to the honorable mention list.
Among the 44 honorable mention teams, which includes institutions who graduated 75 percent or more of their football student-athletes, NIU was one of 15 schools at the top of the list with a GSR of 90 percent or higher. Those 15 teams are Air Force, Army, Boston College, Central Florida, Duke, Florida, Iowa, Miami (Fla.), Navy, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Rice and Stanford.
Including Miami, NIU was one of four Mid-American Conference teams recognized in 2011 as Ohio and Bowling Green were also among the AFCA's honorable mention squads.
This year's award marks the fourth time the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula has been used to select the winner of the AFCA Academic Achievement Award. From 1981 to 2007, the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and AFCA.
By Joe Summins on December 14, 2011 1:40 PM
Just how good was the Northern Illinois University secondary last year? Two former starters from last season's squad, safety Tracy Wilson and cornerback Chris Smith, are playing in the National Football League.
Wilson, as you read here on Huskie Happenings a few weeks ago, was elevated from to the Jets active roster from the practice squad. He has seen action in two games, making three tackles on the season. Wilson made one tackle, an assist, against Washington and made a solo and assisted tackle this weekend against Kansas City.
Smith, who is playing for the St. Louis Rams, saw action in his first NFL game Monday night in Seattle. he made three solo tackles and the Rams fell to the Seahawks, 30-13.
Former NIU running back Chad Spann is still in the league as well. The former Vern Smith Leadership Award winner, who started the year with Indianapolis, then was picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is now on the Steelers practice squad.
By Joe Summins on December 14, 2011 1:25 PM
The Huskies appearance in the GoDaddy.com Bowl continues to get positive reviews. While the bowl itself was ranked No. 33 out of 35 by CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, he did tell fans across the nation that that this would be the last time they could see NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish.
Finals week meant a light schedule for Northern Illinois Huskie Athletics, as only three teams competed during the normally hectic week. Nonetheless, there were several bright spots to the week's events. Men's Basketball: Despite leading at the half, the Huskies could not secure their first win Saturday as the fell to the UIC Flames, 62-55, in Chicago. Antoine Christian and Kevin Gray each contributed 11 points in the effort, while the defense got 12 turnovers. Yet, the Flames would hit several clutch free throws at the end to take the victory.
Northern Illinois won their second game in a row and their first on the road Sunday afternoon with a 73-40 shellacking of Chicago State. Claire Jakubicek paced the Huskie offense with 21 points and five assists, in addition to seven rebounds. As a team, NIU shot 61.2 percent from the field, while limiting the Cougars to a slim 25 percent.
Track & Field: NIU got their 2011-12 season off to a fast start Friday in Ames, Iowa, as they took three event titles at the Cyclone Holiday Preview. Janay Mitchell not only won the 60m dash, but broke the NIU record in the event with a time of 7.57. Roneisha Frye (60m hurdles) and Rebecca Cronin (800m) also scored event titles, while Rasheta Butler set a new school record in the 300m with a time of 40.00.
The Huskies begin their Christmas break schedule this week with the men's and women's basketball teams each playing a pair of games. On Wednesday, the women host UIC at 5:30 p.m. and the men play DePaul at 8 p.m. in the first of four men's-women's doubleheaders at the NIU Convocation Center. The men's team will then play Southern Illinois Saturday in DeKalb, while the women hit the road to play Indiana.
By Jeremy Reid on December 12, 2011 9:28 AM
With the end of the NBA lockout, former Huskie star Xavier Silas is getting his chance to make it in the NBA. Silas has joined the Philadelphia 76ers as a non-roster player hoping to impress and earn a spot on the team. Silas averaged 22.3 points per game last season for the Huskies, seventh-best in the nation. Silas and the Sixers open the preseason on Friday, Dec. 16 as they travel to Washington.
Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) jointly congratulated the Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois Huskies this week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives after their 23-20 win over the Ohio Bobcats in Friday's Marathon MAC Championship in Detroit.
Hultgren, whose district includes NIU, won a friendly wager with Johnson, who represents the district that includes Ohio University, over whose school would win the conference title game. As a result of the Huskie victory, the congressman from the losing district was required to give a speech on the House floor congratulating the team while holding the winning team's helmet.
Following a 4-0 start to the season, senior Brad Dieckhaus is now ranked in the top 20 nationally in the 184 weight class in four major polls. The St. Charles, Mo., native currently sits in 18th with WrestlingReport.com and 20th with InterMat, WIN Magazine and D1CollegeWrestling.net.
Additionally, fellow Huskies Nick Smith and Kevin Fanta are getting some love for their fast start. Smith, who boasts a team-best 9-1 record this season, comes in at No. 21 with WrestlingReport.com's 125 pound rankings, while Fanta sits 32nd nationally with WrestlingReport.com after a 3-0 start to the season.
By Joe Summins on December 7, 2011 10:18 AM
Various organizations and media outlets are starting to release their All-America teams. As expected, most of them are littered with big names from big schools. CBSSports.com thought pretty highly of NIU's Scott Wedige, naming the senior center second-team All-American. Wedige is the only Mid-American Conference player on either first or second team. The CBSSports.com All-America Teams were selected by the staff, writers and bloggers.
Wedige is the first Huskie to be named to an All-America team since Larry English in 2008. English was a third team selection by Phil Steele and an honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly.
The Huskies earned another conference championship over the weekend with the football team's win against Ohio Friday night, while volleyball's season came to an end in the NCAA Tournament. Football: The Huskies clinched their first MAC title since 1983 Friday night in Detroit with a 23-20 victory against the Ohio Bobcats. Trailing 20-0 at halftime, NIU engineered a second-half comeback that included three Chandler Harnish touchdown passes and a stout defensive performance. The win, though, was not secured until Mat Sims converted on a 33-yard field goal as time expired. The Huskies will now play Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against the Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State Red Wolves.
Volleyball: Northern Illinois's season came to a close Friday night in Ames, Iowa, as the Huskies were defeated by No. 25 Miami, 3-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Lauren Wicinski paced the Huskies with 23 kills, while Kristin Hoffman registered a double-double with 47 assists and 13 digs. NIU finishes the season with a 28-7 record.
Men's Basketball: There were two more tough losses for the Huskies during the week, as NIU lost to Utah Valley and Nebraska Omaha. On Monday night, the Huskies were tied with UVU into the second half, but a scoring drought doomed Northern in a 58-47 defeat. In their return home Saturday afternoon, Tim Toler scored 25 points and the team committed a season-low eight turnovers, but the Mavericks' 52 percent shooting performance lifted them to a 77-72 win against NIU.
NIU pulled out a close win Tuesday night with a 53-50 win against instate rival Southern Illinois. Trailing 50-49 late, Alicia Johnson sank a jumper with 13 seconds left to put NIU ahead for good. The Huskies were paced by Amanda Corral, who put in 17 points in the win.
The Huskies pushed Purdue to the brink Thursday night in DeKalb, but couldn't pull out a win in a 19-15 loss at the annual NIU Showcase Meet. Trailing 16-9 with three matches left, the Huskies scored wins at 184 and 197 to pull within one point of the Boilermakers. Yet, Jared Torrence's valiant effort at heavyweight was for naught, as Purdue won the final match in triple-overtime to escape with a win.
With finals week in full swing, the schedule becomes very light for the Huskies. Men's basketball plays their lone road game in December Saturday at UIC, while the women's basketball team also heads to the Windy City to face Chicago State Sunday. Meanwhile, track & field kicks off their 2011-12 schedule Friday at the Iowa State Holiday Preview.