February 2012 Archives


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Seven NIU teams were in action during the past week, including track & field excelling at the MAC Indoor Championships and men's tennis winning eight-straight on their home court.

Men's Basketball: Northern Illinois dropped two MAC West road games during the week, but hung close in both instances. On Wednesday, the Huskies led division-leading Eastern Michigan by 13 half way through the second half, but the Eagles stormed back to take a 48-45 victory in Ypsilanti. NIU returned to Michigan Sunday to face Central Michigan, where they lost 74-64 despite Abdel Nader's 24 points.

Women's Basketball: The Huskies struggled in two road games during the week, falling at Central Michigan and Toledo. NIU headed to Mt. Pleasant Wednesday, but cold shooting doomed NIU in a 73-50 loss to the Chippewas. Northern followed that up with another offensive setback in a 49-39 defeat to the Rockets.

Gymnastics: Northern Illinois seniors Shonda Clore, Ashley Guerra and Tanya Rachan provided eight great routines on Senior Day to lead the Huskie gymnastics team to its second-highest overall score of 2012, but it was not enough to overcome Central Michigan as NIU dropped a dual meet to the Chippewas, 194.950-193.925, Sunday at the NIU Convocation Center.

Track & Field: Chanel Kellyman and Megan Gregory each won conference titles Saturday at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships, helping the Northern Illinois track & field team to their best indoor conference finish as a member of the MAC. The Huskies' 48 team points earned them a seventh place finish in the final standings, topping host Akron by ten points. Additionally, Kellyman (60 meters) and Gregory (60 hurdles) - who earned all-MAC first team honors for their performances - became the first individual indoor MAC champions in NIU track & field history, while NIU broke school records in six different events at the meet.

Baseball: The Huskies' offense improved, but NIU dropped their first three games at the Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic in Lubbock, Texas. Northern fell behind early against No. 18 St. John's, but came back to force extras before the Red Storm belted a walk-off home run to win, 11-9. Later on Saturday, NIU took an early lead against host Texas Tech, but fell 8-5 to the Red Raiders. The Huskies got out to a 3-0 lead Sunday night against TTU, but lost again, 10-4.

Men's Tennis: The Huskies extended their home winning streak to eight matches Saturday with a pair of 7-0 sweeps against Dayton and Western Illinois. However, that streak came to an end Sunday afternoon when Cleveland State upended NIU, 5-2.

Women's Tennis: Northern Illinois dropped two matches in Carbondale, Ill., during the weekend. The Huskies were swept Saturday by Arkansas State, 7-0. On Sunday, they were upended by Southern Illinois, 5-2.

Northern Illinois closes out February and kicks off March this week with eight teams in action. Among the games are women's basketball Senior Day Tuesday vs. Western Michigan, men's basketball Senior Day vs. Toledo, men's tennis hosting Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois Saturday in Rockford and women's tennis welcoming Milwaukee to the Boylan Tennis Center.


Chandler Harnish passing.jpgFormer NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish is in Indianapolis for the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. He is doing a daily diary for his hometown paper, the News Sentinel. 

Judging by the first entry in his diary, Harnish had an eventful first day for the NFL hopeful. Day Two brought more testing, and interviews with teams and media alike. Comcast SportsNet Chicago was down in Indy covering the Combine and caught up with Chandler.


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Former (tear) NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish is still representing Northern Illinois, most recently on Monday at Halas Hall when he accepted the Mental Toughness Award from the Chicago Chapter of the National Football Foundation.  Harnish and Northwestern QB Dan Persa - who roomed together at the East-West Shrine Game in January - earned the award for the perseverance and excellence displayed throughout their college careers.

Harnish was introduced by NIU Head Coach Dave Doeren at the standing room only awards ceremony which was attended by a "who's who" of Chicago football, including fellow head coaches Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern and Tim Beckman of Illinois (formerly of the NIU vanquished Toledo Rockets), Chicago Bears Chairman George McCaskey and members of the McCaskey family, including matriarch Virginia Halas McCaskey, and Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delaney. The NFF Chicago Chapter also presented awards to six deserving high school football student-athletes and recognized the NAIA Championship won by St. Xavier in 2011.  Harnish's parents Ron and LeeAnn were in attendance to support the NFL hopeful.

Harnish's awards acceptance speech was the centerpiece of Fred Mitchell's recap of the event for the Chicago Tribune, where you can also see his entire speech. 

Following the ceremony, the NIU contingent, representatives of other schools and special guests attended a dinner with the NFF Chicago Board members at Del Rio Restaurant in Highwood.

Harnish traveled to Indiana on Tuesday and reports to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine on Wednesday. Return to "Huskie Happenings" on Thursday for more on Harnish's combine plans.   


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It was another chock full week of Huskie action, with nine teams in action both in DeKalb and on the road.

Men's Basketball: The Huskies returned to MAC West play and stepped out for a non-conference matchup this week, but suffered a pair of losses. Playing in the Convo Wednesday night, NIU dropped a 78-63 decision to Western Michigan as Tony Nixon scored a season-high 12 points for Northern. The Huskies stepped out of conference play Saturday for a BracketBuster game at SIU-Edwardsville. Despite 12 points each from Abdel Nader and Nixon, the Cougars drilled a last-second shot to defeat NIU, 64-62.

Women's Basketball: Northern Illinois split a pair of MAC West games at home during the week to start on the regular season home stretch. NIU evened their record to 12-12 overall and 6-6 in the MAC with a 58-44 win against Ball State, with Claire Jakubicek leading the way with 17 points. That momentum did not last for the Huskies, though, as they dropped a 77-57 game to Eastern Michigan. Kim Davis led the way with 26 points.

Wrestling: The Huskies closed out their 2011-12 regular season Saturday with a 23-14 loss to Buffalo. Shawn Fayette (149), Brad Dieckhaus (184), Mike Lukowski (197) and Jared Torrence (285) each won matches on Senior Day, but Buffalo's six wins - including a pin and two major decisions - were too much to overcome.

Gymnastics: Northern Illinois came up with its second-highest score of the 2012 season but it was not enough to overcome a strong performance by Mid-American Conference powerhouse Kent State Sunday as the Huskies fell 195.525-193.625.

Track & Field: The Northern Illinois track & field team ended their 2011-12 indoor regular season with an impressive showing at the Ball State Quadrangular, as they captured three event titles and broke two school records en route to a second-place finish. Janay Mitchell Broke the school's 60 meters record for the third time this season with a time of 7.54, while Roneisha Frye eclipsed the 60 hurdles record with a run of 8.59.

Baseball: Northern Illinois opened their 2012 season at Tennessee, but were swept by the Volunteers in the three-game set. The Huskie bats went silent in the first game, only scoring one run in a 7-1 defeat. They would get more run support in a Saturday doubleheader, but dropped both games to the Vols, 10-5 and 7-2.

Softball: The Huskies dropped all three games in a rain-soaked weekend in North Texas to fall to 3-5 on the season. NIU lost their tournament opener to Creighton, 5-4, in eight innings Friday morning, then were bested, 8-3, by the host Mean Green. After Saturday's action was rained out, NIU could not get timely hitting in a 5-1 loss to Creighton Sunday.

Men's Tennis: The Huskies improved to 6-0 at home this year with a pair of wins against Valparaiso and IUPUI. NIU began the day with a 6-1 win over the Crusaders, then folloowed that up with a 5-2 defeat of the Jaguars.

Men's Golf: Northern Illinois opened their 2012 spring season in Dade City, Fla., where they took third place at the MAC Match Play tournament. After a convincing 4-2 win over Ohio in the opening round, the Huskies nearly knocked off top-seeded Ball State in the semifinals, but fell 3.5-2.5. NIU would rally in the third place match, though, with a 4.5-1.5 win against Miami (Ohio).

Another busy week awaits the Huskies with seven teams in action. Among them, only men's tennis and gymnastics are at home. the men's tennis squad looks keep their perfect home record intact Saturday against Dayton and Western Illinois, then Sunday versus Cleveland State. Meanwhile, gymnastics hosts Central Michigan Sunday in DeKalb.


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Day one of Northern Illinois' first baseball road trip was a simple one - travel. The Huskies travel party of 27 players, four coaches, one special assistant to the coach (Mickey Mathey), one trainer and myself, made the 10.5 hour, 613 mile trek to the Hilton at the Knoxville Airport.

As we boarded the bus, we were handed a sandwich, a bag of potato chips and a bottle of water. The players started the trip with two hours of study hall and the student-athletes took advantage of that. It was quiet and plenty of the players had their required readings in hand. Following the study hall, coach popped Moneyball into the DVD player - naturally, the bus was silent during the flick.

Our first stop of the trip was in Shelbyville, Ind., where we switched bus drivers. And no there wasn't a monorail or a lemon tree (wanted to give a shout for all you Simpsons fans out there). From there we kept on driving and watched Contagion following the first movie. In perfect timing, the movie ended and we stopped in Lexington, Ky. for dinner at Fazzolis, who may or may not have run out of breadsticks and pasta following our arrival. The final movie of the trip was Ides of March. While some watched the movie, a good portion of the team in the back of the bus played multiple games of Mafia until we reached our destination at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The good news is, it's beautiful in Tennessee today. The low temperature here is 10 degrees warmer than the high in DeKalb right now. We're looking at a partly sunny day with 59 degrees - looks like a good day for baseball to me.


With the high probability of inclement weather on Sunday, the series finale between Northern Illinois and Tennessee has been moved up and the two squads will now play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon.

Both games will be nine-inning contests with approximately 45 minutes in between.

The Huskies and the Vols will kick off the 2012 campaign this afternoon at 3 p.m. Central at Tennessee's Lindsey Nelson Stadium. NIU senior southpaw Tom Barry will take the mound against UT's right-hander Drew Steckenrider.

To watch the Huskies-Volunteers series, visit www.UTSports.com/allaccess and for in game updates follow @NIUAthletics on Twitter.


For all you Tweeps of @NIUHuskies, you might have seen a new edition to the NIU Twitter family in @NIU_Baseball, run by myself and Assistant Coach Ray Napientek. Be sure to follow us for road trip updates, news, notes, and of course, your occasional laughs. This was a favorite of mine during the trip, with Mike Grindstaff and Ben Neumann playing Bejeweled on an iPad.


Northern Illinois men's golf assistant coach Andrew Frame was recently inducted into the Manteno High School Wall of Fame. Frame, a 2005 Manteno graduate, was a four-time team MVP at Manteno, a four-time conference player of the Year and a two-time IHSA Class A State Runner-Up. Frame is also the Manteno school record holder for career scoring average (73.0). During his four-year career as a Huskie,  Frame had the fifth-lowest career scoring average (75.3).


Defense.jpgWith spring practice set to start in a little over a month and half, Andrea Adelson of ESPN.com put together previews for several non-AQ schools and Northern Illinois was one of them. Adelson, talks about some key need areas for the Huskies, mostly on the offensive side of the ball, and the look of the Huskie defense in 2012.



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The past two Monday nights, NIU men's basketball head coach Mark Montgomery has spent time visiting the fraternities and sororities at NIU. Last Monday night, Montgomery stopped by the fraternities on campus, bringing Taco Bell to each of the houses. Last night, Montgomery made the rounds to the sororities at NIU, handing out boxes of chocolate in a Pre-Valentine's Day gesture from the Huskies.

"Everyone at the fraternities and sororities was very friendly and it was a good chance to meet and interact with members of the student body," Montgomery said. "We had a great response from the fraternities last week and saw a number of those guys come out and support our team last Wednesday, hopefully we see them come back this week and we see them joined by the sororities we visited last night."


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With the baseball season only three days away, the Northern Illinois Huskies have some pep in their step heading into the 2012 opener at Tennessee. The Daily Chronicle released its season preview in this morning's edition, talking to Head Coach Ed Mathey and seniors Kyle Glancy, Alex Jones and Troy White. The NIU players made it clear in their interviews what their intentions were this season and Glancy said it best at the end of the article...

"We're feeling confident. It seems like that year we can really go to the next level and win the MAC championship and hopefully get an NCAA berth."


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Eight Huskie teams were in action during the week, including softball kicking off their 2012 season in Louisiana.

Men's Basketball: Northern Illinois wrapped up divisional crossover play with a split of their two games. The Huskies used Tyler Storm's career-best 17 points and a strong defensive effort on the boards Wednesday to knock off Miami (Ohio), 62-59, inside the Convocation Center. On Saturday, though, Northern was unable to hang with MAC leader Akron in a 75-51 defeat. Keith Gray paced NIU with 13 points.

Women's Basketball: The Huskies had a light week on the hardwood with only one game on the schedule. However, they grabbed a huge win on the road with a 70-58 win against Miami (Ohio). Courtney Shelton led NIU with 13 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

Wrestling: Northern Illinois returned to the .500 mark Sunday with a pair of dominating wins against Tiffin and SIU-Edwardsville. The Huskies began the day with a 42-0 shutout of the Dragons to earn their second shutout of the year. NIU would nearly repeat that performance in the last dual of the day with a 34-8 victory against the in-state rival Cougars.

Gymnastics: Northern Illinois hit all 24 of its routines en route to its seventh-best team score ever and a 194.775-193.975 victory over Bowling Green Saturday at Anderson Arena.

The victory lifted NIU's record to 3-3 overall, 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while Bowling Green fell to 1-8, 0-3.

Track & Field: It was a record-setting weekend for the Huskies, as two school records fell and a third was tied at the Iowa State Classic. NIU's 4x400 relay of Chanel Kellyman, Jenelle McCalla, Julianne Cronin and Rebecca Cronin demolished the school mark with a time of 3:47.74 - breaking the former record by nearly two seconds. In addition, Jenner Sio surpassed the triple jump record with a 39-01.00 leap, while Kellyman tied the NIU 200 meter record with a run of 24.52.

Softball: Northern Illinois opened their season with a 3-2 performance over the weekend at Southeastern Louisiana. The Huskies won both of their rain-soaked Friday games with an 8-4 win over Southern and a 9-8 triumph against Nicholls State. NIU split their Saturday slate, falling 10-2 to Troy and defeating UT-Martin, 7-5. The team would fall in their tournament finale to the host Lions, 10-2.

Men's Tennis: NIU went 2-1 during the weekend to improve to 4-2 on the year. On Friday, the Huskies defeated SIU-Edwardsville and IPFW by identical 6-1 scores inside the Boylan Tennis Center. Northern hit the road Sunday to face No. 70 Drake, where they lost, 7-0, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Women's Tennis: The Huskies continued its fantastic start to the season Sunday by defeating Eastern Illinois, 6-1, at the Boylan Tennis Center. The 5-2 mark by the Huskies is the best start for the team in nearly a decade.

NIU's busy month continues this week when men's golf and baseball both tee off on their respective seasons. Men's golf is in Dade City, Fla., for the MAC Match Play tournament, while baseball has a three-game weekend series at Tennessee. Additionally, men's basketball host Western Michigan Wednesday and women's basketball hosts Ball State Thursday and Eastern Michigan Saturday, along with wrestling taking on Buffalo Saturday in Victor E. Court and men's tennis battling Valparaiso and IUPUI Friday in Rockford.


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As you may remember reading earlier in the year, a pair of former Northern Illinois baseball players, Chuck Lukanen (2009-10) and Brian Smith (2005-06, '08, '10) won the Frontier League Championship with the Joliet Slammers. As the baseball season begins to warmup, the Joliet Slammers featured Lukanen, talking to him about his breakout season and reflecting on the championship.


NIU head coach Dave Doeren announced the hiring of Mike Dunbar as the Huskies' new offensive coordinator yesterday. A 35-year coaching veteran, Dunbar brings a wealth of experience with him to NIU. Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune posted this story on Dunbar in today's paper, while Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com had this post on the hire on his blog. Paul Myerberg of presnapread.com broke down the hire in greater detail in his blog post today.


Chandler Harnish passing.jpgWhile his Huskie career maybe over, things haven't slowed down for Chandler Harnish. The 2011 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner is preparing for the biggest job interview of his life as he is set to participate in the 2012 NFL Combine in Indianapolis Feb. 22-28. The Chicago Tribune's Fred Mitchell caught up with Harnish and discussed his pro potential in this story.

Before heading to Indianapolis, Harnish will be collecting some more hardware. This weekend, Harnish will travel to Columbus, Ohio to accept the 2011 Male Athlete of the Year Award from the Touchdown Club of Columbus. The second Huskie to win that award, Harnish was the TCC's 2010 MAC Player of the Year. He will then be at Halas Hall, Feb. 20 to receive the Mental Toughness Award from the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter.


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It's not too often that your top two scorers are freshmen.  That's the case for the 2011-12 NIU women's basketball team as rookies Amanda Corral (9.5 PPG) and Claire Jakubicek (10.9 PPG) pace the Huskie scoring attack.  For second-year Head Coach Kathi Bennett and the Huskies, this odd fact bodes well for the future of the program, as highlighted by today's article in the Northern Star by Eli Gehn.


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Though we haven't rolled up the tarp here in Illinois and boughten our peanuts and Cracker Jack, or even worn shorts since October for that matter, baseball season is right around the corner. In exactly nine days, the Huskies will open their season in SEC country to take on Tennessee in a three-game series with the Volunteers. So naturally, with the season around the corner, baseball publications have been releasing conference previews for the past couple weeks formulated from questionnaires from all 300 NCAA Division I baseball teams.

CollegeBaseballInsider.com released its Mid-American Conference baseball preview today and several Northern Illinois players made several of the "Best" lists, as polled by all 12 MAC coaches. Huskies Alex Jones and Troy White tied for the Best Defensive Infielder, and also shared the Best Infield Arm honor, while teammate Jeff Zimmerman was named amongst the "Best Pure Hitters" and one of the "Biggest Power Threats" in the Mid-American Conference.

Needless to say, 2011 is going to be an exciting on the diamond for NIU. Check back for more updates as they're released.


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Teaberry_UWC.JPGThe Northern Illinois University Women's Club presented NIU Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Connie Teaberry with a $1,000 check to support the women's track & field and cross country program. The donation will go toward the purchase of additional equipment for the track & field team in preparation for their upcoming outdoor season.
The University Women's Club has given similar monetary gifts to other NIU women's sports programs in the past for the purchase of team uniforms or equipment. The UWC also presents academic scholarships to NIU women students each year to assist them in meeting the financial needs for their education.

On behalf of Huskie Athletics and NIU Track & Field, THANK YOU, University Women's Club!

Northern Illinois' sophomore goalkeeper Amy Carr will embark on an adventure of a lifetime this coming May when she travels to Cape Town, South Africa to teach and coach school aged children ages 5-to-13 english and soccer, amongst other sports. Carr, a two-year starter for the Huskies and a native of Hemel Hempstead, England, has started a website to chronicle her journey this summer in Africa. Check out the website and see what she has in store. 

More information to follow on NIUHuskies.com


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Convo Hoops Logo.jpegIf you were at the NIU-Ohio women's basketball game on Saturday, you may have noticed the surplus in kids both on and off the court.  That's because it was Kids Day at the Convo.  The annual event gave any of the kids in attendance an inside look at an NIU basketball game as they served as reporters, team managers, event staff, etc.  While they had a great time during a 50-46 NIU victory, two kid reporters put the day into words in their recap stories below.

The first comes to us from Evelyn Adams:

DeKALB, Ill.
-Huskies beat Bobcats 50 to 46.  The Huskies led throughout the game, but ran into a little bit of trouble towards the end.  They also ran into foul trouble early on.  Overall, the Huskies played a very nice game.  Northern Illinois fought hard and defeated Ohio.  GO NIU.  Another Huskies victory.

The second comes to us from Erik Books:

DeKALB, Ill. - Huskies won 50-46! Wow, did you see Kim Davis take that hit in the first period? The Huskies were making baskets all over the place! After the game I got to sit down with Kathi Bennett and she talked about how the game went along. During the game I saw some roughness out on the court. When I was in media room I heard the Huskies screaming very, very loud in the locker room because they won. I also talked to Semeka Randall and she said her big shooters did not step up and play. She also looked very sad. She went a lot faster than Kathi Bennett did. Out on the court I think there were more fouls than usual this time. I personally think the Huskies played great today. If there are any Ohio fans out there reading this they  are most likely to be unhappy. The game was similar to my game Saturday morning, except there was less diving for the ball and less stealing in the Huskies game. Today my favorite player was Kim Davis because she worked her butt off getting the ball in the hoop!

Thanks for the submissions and great work, Evelyn and Erik!


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Senior baseball player Troy White has continued his outstanding contributions to the community with his affiliation in the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Over the Holiday break, White along with representatives from the Chicago Cubs and Citi Bank, spoke to Chicago area youths about the importance of their education and speaking to them on improving their confidence.

To read about the account, click here.

White has been a member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation since the conclusion of his freshman year.


Lynch-Jordan-GoDaddy.com.jpgMany around the Mid-American Conference know the rich quarterback history in the league. This past season, Huskie fans were fortunate to watch the top QB in the MAC week in and week out in Chandler Harnish, the 2011 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner.

Next season, 12 of the league's 14 signal callers from 2011 will be under center in 2012. One of those "new guys" will be Jordan Lynch. Like Harnish, Lynch is a dual threat quarterback equally dangerous with his arm or legs. Paul Myerberg of presnapread.com posted this story handicapping the quarterback race in 2012.


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Northern Illinois kicked off a busy month of February with sex teams in action, as the transition between the winter and spring seasons gets into full force.

Men's Basketball: The Huskies continued to struggle in division crossover play during the week, as they fell to Ohio and Bowling Green. Despite only trailing by one at the half Wednesday, NIU failed to pull off a major upset against the Bobcats, falling 67-58 in DeKalb, despite Antoine Christian's season-high 15 points. In Bowling Green Saturday, Northern was doomed by a slow start offensively, falling behind by 25 at the half en route to a 65-40 loss to the Falcons.

Women's Basketball: NIU split their games during the week and have now won four of their last six games. Facing conference leader Bowling Green on Wednesday, the Huskies hung close to the Falcons, but couldn't get over the hump in a 57-47 defeat. Claire Jakubicek paced the NIU offense with 17 points in the loss. Northern rebounded Saturday against Ohio with a 50-46 win in DeKalb. Jakubicek led NIU with 16 points to help the Huskies avenge last season's MAC Tournament loss.

Wrestling: Northern Illinois dropped its fourth-straight dual match Friday, losing 24-18 at No. 19 Northwestern. Trailing 24-3 last in the match, the Huskies rallied with three straight wins - including pins by Brad Dieckhaus and Jared Torrence - in the final three matches. However, that comeback was a case of too little, too late for the NIU.

Gymnastics: Northern Illinois posted its top scores of the season on vault, balance beam and floor exercise and overcame a 1.225 point deficit in the final half of the meet to defeat Ball State, 192.925-191.125 Saturday in Victor E. Court. NIU claimed its first Mid-American Conference victory and first home win of the season to improve to 2-3 overall, 1-1 in the MAC. Ball State fell to 1-4, 0-3.

Men's Tennis: The Huskies traveled to Bloomington, Ind., Sunday for a matchup with No. 27 Indiana, but were defeated, 7-0, by the Hoosiers. Despite strong play from several Huskies, NIU failed to win a match on the day.

Women's Tennis: NIU went 2-1 for the second-straight weekend as they defeated North Dakota and Bradley to improve to 4-2 on the season. After falling to Northern Iowa, 6-1, on Friday, The Huskies rebounded with a 6-1 victory over North Dakota in Waterloo, Iowa. The team capped off their weekend in Peoria, Ill., where they swept in-state rival Bradley, 7-0.

The Huskies continue into February with a week chock full of competition both in DeKalb and on the road. Softball opens their 2012 season on the road at the Southeastern Louisiana Tournament, while men's basketball (Wednesday vs. Miami [OH]), men's tennis (Friday vs. IPFW and SIU-Edwardsville), wrestling (Sunday vs. SIU-Edwardsville and Tiffin) and women's tennis (Sunday vs. Eastern Illinois) are all at home.


College Soccer News recently released its list of on the rise programs heading toward the 2012 season and Northern Illinois was among its 10 cited as those to keep an eye on. The Huskies were noted for being not only a talented team but also one whose "work ethic gives them the edge in close contests."

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