Northern Illinois Men's Basketball Looks For Program Win #1000 Against Ohio at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES


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Game Day Quick Facts:
Game Time: 3:05 p.m. (CST)

Television: Ohio Television Network. Hub Burton will handle the play-by-play chores, while former Western Michigan coach Bob Donewald provides expert analysis.

Satellite Coordinates: Galaxy-11/14K; Downlink-11980.000 Vertical

Radio: The Huskie Sports Radio Network will be on the air for today’s game vs. Ohio. Bill Baker handles the play-by-play duties, with Sid Simmons providing color commentary. Stations covering the game include: WLBK-AM 1360 - DeKalb; WBIG-AM 1280 - Chicagoland; WRHL-AM 1060 - Rochelle; WSEY-FM 95.7 - Rockford, Freeport; WMKB-FM 102.9 - LaSalle-Peru.

Coaches: Rob Judson (Illinois ’80) is 34-36 in his third season at Northern Illinois. Tim O’Shea (Boston College ’84) is in his third season with Ohio and is 34-34 all-time at the school.

About Ohio
Ohio comes into today’s game with a 3-7 record, but have had six of those seven defeats come by seven points or less ... Three has been the unluckiest number for Ohio, as four of its seven losses have come by a three-point margin, including a 63-60 home defeat vs. DePaul ... Like the Huskies, Ohio opened the MAC season with a loss, falling 72-66 to Toledo at home on Nov. 30 ... Senior guard Jaivon Harris has been the top Bobcat statistically this season ... The Alliance, OH, native is averaging 11.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game ... A versatile guard, Harris is tops on the team in scoring, second in assists (17) and steals (9) and third in total rebounding (40).

The NIU Series With Ohio
While Ohio owns a 22-12 all-time series advantage over NIU, the Huskies will be looking to take their third consecutive decision from the Bobcats ... NIU swept the season series from Ohio a year ago, including an 80-53 win over OU at the Convocation Center in DeKalb ... The regular-season sweep by the Huskies over Ohio was the first since the 1979-80 season ... In that 27-point home victory over Ohio last season, P.J. Smith (19) and Marcus Smallwood (17) combined for 36 points, while Rome Sanders notched a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double ... Current Boston Celtic Brandon Hunter scored 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting to lead Ohio ... Of Ohio’s 22 series wins, 10 have come in DeKalb where OU leads the series 10-7.

Jan. 17 Game Time At Ohio Set For 1 p.m. (CST)
Northern Illinois and Ohio will get pretty familiar with each other early in the MAC season as the two teams meet again on Jan. 17 in Athens, OH ... Like today’s contest, the Ohio Sports Network will televise the matchup and game time has been scheduled for 1 p.m. (CST) ... The start time for the Jan. 17 affair had previously been listed as TBA.

About Head Coach Rob Judson
Rob Judson is in his third season at the helm of the Northern Illinois men’s basketball program and owns a career record of 34-36 ... With the 34 wins in just over two seasons, the Huskies have tied the 34 victories they attained during the four seasons prior to Judson’s arrival ... Those 34 wins also place him 11th all-time on the NIU coaching wins list, one behind Gilman Hertz (1950-54) who racked up a 35-44 record ... Judson accumulated a 29-30 record through his first-two seasons at NIU ... Only Jim Molinari won more games in his first-two seasons at NIU against intercollegiate opponents ... With Judson as an assistant coach, Molinari’s Huskies went 42-17 in 1989-91, his lone two seasons as head coach ... Roland Cowell also won 29 games against intercollegiate competition from 1926-28, his first two seasons at NIU ... The Huskies have performed well on the road during the Judson era ... After going 5-9 on the road in his first season (2001-02), the Huskies went 8-6 on foreign courts last year including a stretch of seven consecutive road wins in the MAC from Jan. 8 to Feb. 15 ... After taking over a program that won only five games the year before his arrival, Judson’s teams have enjoyed immediate success, winning 12 games in his first season and 17 last year ... Judson’s squad has also fared well in the Mid-American Conference, going 19-18 over his tenure ... Among active coaches, only Charlie Coles of Miami-Ohio (22-14) and Tim Buckley of Ball State (23-13) have won more MAC games than Judson in their first two seasons.

Huskie Quick Takes
The Northern Illinois men’s basketball program looks for win #1,000 today after it used an 82-53 victory over the University of St. Francis to get win #999 ... NIU currently has 999-939 overall record ... For the first time this season, NIU will have back-to-back home games ... P.J. Smith scored a game high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting vs. St. Francis ... Smith now has three 20-point games this season and has topped 20 in two of his last three outings (20 vs. BYU-Hawaii, 12-20-03) ... NIU hit 10 of 23 shots from three-point land against St. Francis ... This season the Huskies are shooting 48 percent from three at home, opposed to 27.6 percent when playing on the road or on a neutral site ... Marcus Smallwood needs just nine points to pass (eight to tie) Mike Brown (1997-2001) for 21st on the Northern Illinois career scoring list ... Smallwood currently has 1,050 career points ... James Hughes had three more blocks vs. St. Francis and has pushed his season total to 24 ... Hughes has had at least one block in 10-of-11 games this season and has had multiple blocks seven times ... NIU boasted a 49-34 rebounding advantage over St. Francis and has won the rebounding war in 8-of-11 games this season ... The 49 boards vs. the Cougars is the second highest rebounding total of the season next to the 53 at Notre Dame (12-24-03) ... NIU had a season low six turnovers on Tuesday vs. St. Francis ... The previous season low was 11 at Marshall (Dec. 13) ... Because of its improved ball handling, the Huskies had a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio (18 dimes, 6 turnovers) vs. the Cougars ... Anthony Maestranzi led the way, with five helpers and zero miscues ... On the season, Maestranzi has a 2.5:1 assist : turnover ratio (50 assists, 20 turnovers) ... Smith has already topped 1,000 points for his career and will now be looking for 1,000 career points in an NIU uniform ... Smith has scored 1,146 points, but 264 of those tallies came in an Illinois State Redbird uniform during his freshman season ... Smith needs 98 points to top 1,000 for his NIU career ... Smith would become just the 24th player in NIU history to top the 1,000-point plateau for a career ... The last set of NIU teammates to top 1,000 career points were Leon Rodgers (1998-2002) and Mike Brown (1997-2001) ... The last set of teammates to eclipse 1,000 points in the same season were Billy Harris (1,331) and Jim Bradley (1,134) in 1972-73 ... At 6’11”, the redshirt freshman Hughes is the tallest Huskie hooper since 7’1” Steve Oldendorf (1990-94) patrolled the paint.

ESPN, Jay Bilas Show Smallwood The Love
NIU senior forward Marcus Smallwood was named the most underrated/underappreciated player in the Mid-American Conference by ESPN’s Jay Bilas ... Here is what Bilas had to say about Smallwood ... “Smallwood is an outstanding post player who commands defensive attention. He is a terrific rebounder and finisher around the basket, drawing double and sometimes triple teams that open up opportunities for his teammates to make open 3-pointers. To beat Northern Illinois, teams will have to deal with Smallwood (14.6 ppg, 11 rpg), but they cannot allow his teammates to piggy-back off of him to have big nights from beyond the arc.”

Huskie Big Men Efficient On Offense
The NIU big men have gotten good looks on the offensive end of the floor the last five games, as Marcus Smallwood, James Hughes and Rome Sanders are all shooting at or above 60 percent from the field during that stretch ... The top shooter on the team by percentage (.675), Hughes has hit 13-of-19 (.684) since Dec. 15 and has averaged 7.2 ppg. during that time ... A 51.3 percent shooter on the season, Sanders has connected on 8-of-12 shots (.667) in his last five games including 4-of-5 shooting (.800) in his last three ... While he suffered through a sub-par shooting night vs. St. Francis (6-of-16) Smallwood is still shooting 59.6 percent from the floor in his last-five games, 10 percent higher than his season average of 49.6.

Home Sweet Home
The Convocation Center has become a beautiful site for the Huskies as they are a perfect 4-0 on the season in their friendly confines ... In addition to the unblemished record, the rims and nets are a little more friendly as well ... Below is a breakdown of NIU’s per game averages in its four games at the Convo and its seven games away from it.


Smallwood Named To Surf N’ Slam All-Tourney Team
After averaging 14.0 points and 10.7 rebounds, Marcus Smallwood was named to the BYU-Hawaii Surf N’ Slam All-Tournament Team in Laie, HI ... The tournament’s top rebounder, Smallwood tied the tournament record with 32 total boards, 12 of which came on the offensive end ... With the award, Smallwood becomes the first Huskie to earn a pair of regular season all-tournament team honors since Rodney Davis did it during the 1987-88 season ... Davis was named to the UTEP MetroMobile and UIC McLendon Classic All-Tourney teams.

Huskie Named Hawkeye-Gazette Challenge MVP
For the first time since the 1990 season, the Iowa Hawkeye-Gazette Challenge (Dec. 5-6) MVP didn’t hail from Iowa City ... Despite falling a game short of the tourney title, Marcus Smallwood was named MVP of the tournament after averaging 16 points and 9.5 rebounds during the two-game gathering ... The last time a non-Iowa player won MVP honors of the Hawkeye-Gazette Challenge, was in 1990, when Bob Harstad of Creighton won the award.

Black Magic
In his last six games, Mike “Black Magic” McKinney has cast a spell over his opponents ... The athletic guard led the Huskies in scoring vs. Cornell College (16) and San Jose State (9), while earning the first start of his collegiate career vs. BYU-Hawaii on Dec. 20 ... McKinney opened his scoring surge with a then-career high eight points on 3-of-4 shooting at Marshall (Dec. 13) ... The rookie returned two days later to drop a career and game high 16 points on Cornell College (Dec. 15), thanks to career highs in field goals (6), attempts (8) and minutes (23) ... McKinney was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line vs. the Rams ... Against San Jose State (Dec. 19) in the Surf N’ Slam Invitational opener, McKinney scored a team high nine points thanks to 5-of-7 shooting at the free throw line, while adding three assists and two steals ... For his efforts, McKinney earned the first start of his collegiate career vs. the BYU-Hawaii Seasiders (Dec. 20) ... During the last six games, McKinney is shooting .667 (12-of-18) from the floor and .700 (14-of-20) from the free throw line.

Nearing 1,000 Wins
Northern Illinois is quickly approaching the 1,000-win plateau with its five early season victories ... The Huskies currently have a 999-939 overall record and could reach 1,000 wins just after the New Year ... Other milestone wins for NIU include its 500th on Feb. 29, 1964, vs. Wheaton College (83-67) and its 900th win vs. Illinois-Chicago (95-60) in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament on March 3, 1996.

Smallwood Joins NIU 1,000-Point Club
With a jumper at the 7:42 mark of the first half vs. San Jose State (Dec. 19) , Marcus Smallwood became just the 23rd player in Northern Illinois history to score 1,000 points in an NIU uniform ... Now 22nd in career scoring with 1,050 points, Smallwood will set his sites on Mike Brown (1997-2001) for 21st on the NIU career scoring list ... Brown scored 1,058 points in his Northern Illinois career ... Smallwood is the first Huskie to top 1,000 career points since Leon Rodgers (1998-2002) did it during the 2000-01 season.

Rome Is Burning
During the month of December, it has been pick-your-poison for opponents when handling Rome Sanders ... After averaging 14.6 minutes, 2.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in November, Sanders has stepped up his game and has become the Huskies’ workhorse in the paint ... During the eight games in December, Sanders averaged 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in 20.8 minutes of playing time, while hitting 19-of-27 free throw attempts (.704) during that span ... Against Illinois-Chicago, Sanders was Mr. Efficient, scoring six points on 3-of-3 shooting while grabbing three boards ... The next night against Iowa (Dec. 6), Sanders dished out a career high five assists to go with nine rebounds, a steal and five points ... In the MAC opener at Marshall, Sanders had his best night of the season, scoring a season high 15 points while hitting 7-of-8 shots from the free throw line ... Sanders also grabbed six boards (five offensive) to go with one steal and one assist ... In his last five games, the Curie High School product is 18-of-24 (.750) at the free throw line.

Tis’ The Season For Maestranzi
Anthony Maestranzi is averaging 4.6 assists per game this season, tops on the team and fourth in the MAC ... While the Huskies have struggled taking care of the ball as a whole, Maestranzi has done his job well, dishing out 50 assists, compared to just 20 turnovers ... In NIU’s 11 games, Maestranzi has had one or fewer turnovers in six of those contests and has had a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio in seven of those games ... Maestranzi’s 50 assists this season nearly matches the 51 he had all of last year, when he ranked third on the team ... At his current pace of 4.6 assists per game, Maestranzi would dish out 135 helpers on the year, the second highest single-season assist total in school history ... Jay Bryant had 163 assists during the 1979-80 season ... Maestranzi would also shatter the sophomore assist record of 106 held by current assistant coach Donald Whiteside during the 1988-89 season ... Another impressive statistic for Maestranzi is his lack of turnovers ... Despite being the team’s primary ball-handler and second on the squad in minutes played (30.5 mpg.), Maestranzi is committing less than two miscues a contest, giving him a 2.5:1 assist : turnover ratio.

Hughes Playing Huge
Redshirt freshman James Hughes has had an immediate impact for the Huskies in his rookie season after sitting out the 2002-03 campaign to work on his strength ... After putting on 25 pounds and increasing his stamina, Hughes has started seven games for the Huskies and has been a standout on the defensive end of the floor ... The Silvis, IL, native ranks 36th nationally in blocked shots with 2.2 swats per game, while ranking fourth nationally among freshmen in the same category ... Hughes made his collegiate debut in emphatic fashion, blocking an NIU freshman record six shots in the season-opener against Eastern Illinois ... Against Illinois State (Nov. 26), Hughes made his first career start and flourished with career highs in points (11), field goals (4), free throws made (3) and rebounds (6) ... Hughes also played a career high 22 minutes ... In a 54-53 win over rival Illinois-Chicago, Hughes was a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor, scoring nine points, grabbing six boards and blocking two shots ... Aided by that 4-of-4 shooting performance from the floor, Hughes boasts a team-leading .675 field goal percentage and is second on the team at the free throw line (.750).

Return Of The Mac
While he technically made his return on Dec. 6 against Iowa, Bryson McKenzie has slowly been working his way back into the lineup and saw a season high 10 minutes of playing time against St. Francis (Dec. 30) ... In addition to scoring two points, McKenzie grabbed a career high four rebounds vs. the Cougars ... Prior to the USF contest, McKenzie’s most extensive action came against Cornell College ... McKenzie played a then-season high eight minutes against the Rams and turned in a productive night on both ends of the floor ... The Gary, IN, native scored a career high four points on 2-of-3 shooting to go with three rebounds and a steal ... Two of McKenzie’s points came on an impressive dunk down the left baseline.

Chairman of the Boards
Is there a better 6-foot-6 rebounder in the country? ... In a word, No! ... Senior forward Marcus Smallwood has been a machine on the glass this season, averaging 10.6 rebounds a game including 17 in the season-opener vs. Eastern Illinois and 18 more at then-No. 20 Notre Dame ... In the most recent NCAA statistical rankings, Smallwood is 12th nationally in rebounding and is one of only three players, 6-foot-6 and under, to average double figures on the glass ... Against a Fighting Irish frontline that boasted heights of 6-foot-11, 6-foot-11 and 6-foot-9, Smallwood grabbed 18 rebounds including six on the offensive end of the floor ... Smallwood lost the rebounding war by one to Notre Dame’s Torin Francis, but he was the catalyst for NIU outrebounding the Irish by 10 (53-43).

Boarding School
It’s no secret that the key to NIU’s resurgence under Rob Judson has been its success in rebounding ... During Northern Illinois’ rough start to the 2002-03 season, the Huskies were outrebounded in seven of their first-10 games ... During that stretch, the Huskies opened up with a 4-6 record ... Starting with its Dec. 30, 2002, game vs. Eastern Illinois, the Huskies went on a rebounding tear, winning or tying the rebounding war in 18 of their final 21 games ... During that stretch, the Huskies went 14-4 in those 18 games and finished with its highest win total (17) since the 1995-96 season ... This year the Huskies are 8-3 in the rebounding war including a 53-43 advantage at No. 19 Notre Dame, which spurred on an 18-point comeback in the second half.

MAC’s Big Poppa
Marcus “Smalls” Smallwood earned Mid-American Conference Player of the Week honors for the week of Dec. 1 after averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks against No. 20 Notre Dame (Nov. 24) and Illinois State (Nov. 26) ... The 6-foot-6, 215 pound forward opened the week with a 21-point, 18-rebound performance at No. 20 Notre Dame in a 74-65 Fighting Irish win ... Despite facing a frontline that averaged 6-foot-10, 252 pounds, Smallwood was the one standing tall, as he registered season highs in both categories to lead the Huskies ... The senior also added two blocks and a steal against the Irish ... The preseason MAC Player of the Year returned to the court two days later (Nov. 26), to stifle Illinois State’s offensive attack, as he rejected five shots and grabbed a game high nine rebounds ... Although he did score 16 points, it was Smallwood’s effort on the defensive end that paced the Huskies to a 66-55 victory ... During a first half in which the senior got four of his five blocks, the Huskies allowed the Redbirds just 12 points on 4-of-26 shooting (.154 percent) from the floor.

Deep Depth
Head Coach Rob Judson knew one of the strengths to his 2003-04 basketball team would be its tremendous depth ... With the emergence of a strong freshman class and the return of a healthy Bryson McKenzie, the Huskies have 13 players capable of playing important minutes as the season progresses ... The 6-foot-10 center has been recovering from mid-October knee surgery and is slowly working his way back into the frontcourt rotation ... With the benefit of a 13-man roster, the Huskies have played 11 or more players in 9-of-11 contests and have played 12 players on five occasions ... In NIU’s win over Cornell College (Dec. 15) the Huskies played the entire 13-man roster, with each player seeing at least seven minutes of duty ... Against the Rams, four players set season/career highs for minutes played including McKenzie, who played eight minutes, scored four points and grabbed three rebounds ... Against No. 20 Notre Dame (Nov. 24), 12-of-13 players saw critical minutes including transfer Johnathan Byrd, who totaled then-career highs in points (4) and minutes (8) ... Walter Thompson has seen his role increase as the season has worn on, playing in nine of the last 10 games, while scoring a season high five points against St. Francis.

The Frosh, Rookies, Newbies ....
Call them what you will, but don’t call them bashful as NIU’s quartet of freshmen have made an instant impact for the Huskies this season ... Redshirt freshman James Hughes has been the most productive of the newcomers early on, starting seven games, while averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds ... While his offensive numbers are solid, Hughes has been the most productive on the defensive end of the floor ... The 6-foot-11 rookie is averaging 2.2 blocks per game, second in the MAC and fourth nationally among freshmen ... Mike McKinney has been Mr. Versatility so far this season ... The high-flying shooting guard turned in back-to-back career outings, following up an eight-point performance at Marshall with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting against Cornell College (Dec. 15) ... Currently, McKinney is averaging 4.5 ppg, while his 16 offensive rebounds are tied for third on the team and tops among guards ... Ryan Paradise has made the most of his 13.4 minutes per contest ... While averaging 2.9 points per game, Paradise is fourth on the team in assists with 15 and his 6-of-8 start from the charity stripe (.750) is second on the team ... After being shut out in his first six games, Paige Paulsen broke into the scoring column against Baylor, scoring five points including a trey from the right wing ... A native of Custer, SD, Paulsen gives the Huskies another solid post-defender because of his decision-making and quickness.

Smallwood, Smith Garner Preseason Accolades
Prior to the start of the season, both Marcus Smallwood and P.J. Smith earned recognition as two of the top players in the Mid-American Conference ... In addition to being slated to the Preseason MAC Western Division squad, both seniors are being heralded by a number of preseason magazines ... Athlon and the Sporting News both named Marcus Smallwood as its MAC Player of the Year, while Street & Smith’s magazine named him to its All-MAC team ... P.J. Smith also received a number of preseason honors ... In addition to being a preseason All-MAC pick by Street & Smith’s and The Sporting News, Smith was named the MAC’s top NBA prospect and the player with the top instincts in the conference by Street & Smith’s ... Smallwood was also touted as the top shot blocker and the top athlete in the MAC by Street & Smith’s.

Huskies Picked To Win The MAC
On the strength of 38 first-place votes, the NIU Huskies were picked to win the MAC-Western Division over Bowling Green by the Conference Media ... The Huskies were also chosen as the favorite to win the MAC Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament over Miami (Ohio).

MAC West Voting: Northern Illinois (28) 309, Bowling Green (13) 245, Western Michigan (4) 226, Ball State (1) 192, Toledo (1) 130, Central Michigan (1) 128, Eastern Michigan 114
MAC East Voting:
Miami-Ohio (21) 247, Akron (17) 240, Kent State (9) 200, Marshall 125, Ohio 103, Buffalo (1) 72
MAC Tournament Voting: Northern Illinois (16), Miami-Ohio (10), Bowling Green (7), Ball State (4), Western Michigan (3), Kent State (2).

Warm Up The Bus
Go ahead and “Warm up the Bus” the Huskies don’t mind ... Under Rob Judson’s watch as the head coach, NIU has won 11-of-20 MAC road games including an impressive 7-2 record last season ... While the Huskies did drop their final two MAC road games of the season and the 2003-04 MAC season-opener at Marshall, NIU won seven straight foreign-court contests including a win at MAC Eastern Division champion Kent State (67-61) on Feb. 8.

Percentages Are With The Huskies In 2003-04
When the Huskies were chosen as the favorite to win the Mid-American Conference on Oct. 23rd in Cleveland, it was for good reason as NIU returns a good portion of its 2003 box score this season ... Of the team’s 2,158 points scored in 2002-03, 1,683 points (78 percent) return including three of the team’s top-four scorers ... Of the 1,105 rebounds a year ago, 871 rebounds (78 percent) are back including Marcus Smallwood’s 10.1 boards a game ... An amazing 194-of-195 three-pointers return headlined by P.J. Smith, Al Sewasciuk and Todd Peterson who combined for 159 of the 194 returning treys.

Keeping It Interesting, Huskies 11-5 Last Season In Close Games
The Huskies did just that last season as 16 of the team’s 31 games were decided by 10 points or less ... In those 16 games, the Huskies recorded an 11-5 overall record, with seven of those 11 wins coming on the road ... In addition to being 7-2 on the road in close games, the Huskies were 3-3 at the Convocation Center and 1-0 in neutral-court contests ... This season, NIU is 2-3 in games decided by 10 points or less ... In fact, all but one game this season (66-55 win over Illinois State) has been decided by 10 points or less.

Bucking The Trend, Huskies Enjoy Season Of Firsts In 2002-03
The 2002-03 season was a year of firsts for the Northern Illinois basketball program under second-year head coach Rob Judson ... In addition to enjoying the most wins (17) for NIU since the 1995-96 season, the Huskies enjoyed a number of firsts on the road ... With its 72-65 win at Illinois State (Dec. 21) NIU defeated the Redbirds for the first time since Jan. 3, 1981, and for the first time on the road since Feb. 11, 1980 ... NIU’s 63-46 win at Bowling Green stopped a six-game losing skid to the Falcons dating back to Dec. 4, 1996, which was also NIU’s last win at Bowling Green ... NIU’s 72-65 win at Toledo was its first since Feb. 19, 1983 ... NIU also won its second consecutive game at Ball State with a 66-64 decision on Jan. 11 ... The last time NIU won back-to-back games at BSU (1971-72, 1972-73) Billy Harris and Jim Bradley were scoring points in bunches for the Huskies ... That 1972-73 season was also the last time NIU swept a season series from the Cardinals ... The 1982 season was the last time NIU won at Ohio, but the Huskies stopped that drought with a 68-61 win in Athens, OH, (Jan. 15) ... The Huskies made it a clean sweep over the Bobcats for the first time since 1979-80 with an 80-53 win in DeKalb on Feb. 11 ... The Huskies also had its first taste of MAC Tournament success in some time with wins over Buffalo (March 10) and Western Michigan (March 13) in the opening-two rounds ... The last time NIU won a MAC Tourney game was the 1981-82 season, which was also the last time the Huskies reached the MAC semifinals ... NIU went on to win the MAC Tourney that season and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

NIU Makes School History, Receive Votes In Preseason AP Top 25
It’s being there at the end of the season that matters the most, but the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball program made school history with the releasing of the preseason AP Top 25 poll when the Huskies received three votes to finish tied for 48th nationally ... The only Mid-American Conference school to receive votes in the preseason poll, the Huskies are tied with Georgia, Illinois-Chicago, Nevada and Wichita State ... While this is the first time the Huskies have received votes in the AP’s preseason Top 25 poll, the Huskies have gotten votes before during the regular season and in the final AP Top 25 national rankings ... The last time NIU received votes in the Associated Press poll was at the end of the 1990-91 season, when the Huskies got two votes and finished 43rd ... During the course of that season, Northern Illinois ascended as high as No. 31 in the AP poll (Feb. 25) and No. 29 in the USA Today-CNN poll on Feb. 18 ... That year the Huskies accumulated a 25-6 overall record and won the Mid-Continent Conference with a 14-2 mark ... Current head coach Rob Judson was an assistant on Jim Molinari’s staff that season ... Northern Illinois’ highest national ranking came during the 1971-72 season when NIU Hall of Famer Jim Bradley led the Huskies to No. 18 in the AP poll during the regular season. That season Northern Illinois finished 20th in the final AP poll with a 21-4 record.

Huskies Ink Chicago-Area Products To Letters Of Intent
Northern Illinois head coach Rob Judson announced the signing of three student-athletes to letters of intent as Frank Clair of Chicago Leo High School and teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel of Schaumburg High School signed with the Huskies for the 2004-05 season ... A 6-foot-6 small forward, Clair was a third team Class A all-state selection as a junior, averaging 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds a game ... In addition to his steady scoring and rebounding production, the First Team All-Catholic League pick added 3.4 assists and 2.1 blocks for the Lions, who finished the season with an 18-12 record ... The Huskies also got a pair of signatures from Schaumburg High School teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel ... A 6-foot-4 combo guard, Pancratz led Schaumburg in scoring as a junior, averaging 16.8 points a contest while hitting more than two 3-pointers a game ... An excellent rebounder from his perimeter position, Pancratz averaged 4.9 boards, while dishing out 3.1 assists ... A versatile power forward, Reichel combines size with a solid perimeter game ... As a junior, the 6-foot-8 post player more than doubled his scoring output, going from 7.7 points per game as a sophomore to 15.9 points last season ... A strong defensive presence, Reichel led the Saxons in rebounding (8.0) and blocks (3.4). Despite playing the power forward position, Reichel gives the Huskies a skilled big man who can perform on the perimeter ... While he averaged nearly three assists per game as a junior, Reichel hit an impressive 48 percent of his three-point attempts as a sophomore.

Huskies Add Cyrus Tate To 2004-05 Recruiting Class
Northern Illinois University men’s basketball coach Rob Judson announced the signing of Homewood-Flossmoor standout Cyrus Tate to a National Letter of Intent on Tuesday (Dec. 9), as Tate becomes the fourth Chicagoland prep standout to sign with the Huskies for the 2004-05 season ... A 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward, Tate signed his letter of intent to play for Northern Illinois on Nov. 19 and fills the Huskies’ final available scholarship opening for next season ... Last season as a member of Roy Condotti’s talented 20-8 Homewood-Flossmoor club, Tate averaged 12.5 points and 7.7 rebounds a game as a junior. A consensus Top-25 player in the state of Illinois by Chicago Hoops, Hoop Scoop and High School Elite, Tate gives the Huskies a physical low-post presence that excels on both ends of the floor. While his size and strength allow him to perform on defense, ChicagoHoops.com ranks Tate as one of the top five offensive post players in the state ... A four-year member of the varsity squad at Homewood-Flossmoor, Tate turned in a season best 25-point, 12-rebound performance against Proviso East High School last season ... Tate joins Chicago Leo High School small forward Frank Clair and Schaumburg High School teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel as members of the 2004-05 Northern Illinois men’s basketball recruiting class.