Northern Illinois Men's Basketball Returns To Action On Jan. 5 At Miami (OH)


Northern Illinois (5-5, 1-1 MAC) at Miami (Ohio) (6-3, 1-0 MAC)
6 p.m. (CST) l Wednesday, January 5, 2005
Millett Hall (9,200) l Oxford, OH

Game Day Quick Facts:
Television: None

Radio: The Huskie Sports Radio Network with Bill Baker and Sid Simmons airs on 1360-AM WLBK (DeKalb), 1060-AM WRHL (Rochelle), 1280-AM WBIG (Chicagoland), 95.7-FM WSEY (Rockford, Freeport, Sterling, Dixon) and 102.9 FM (LaSalle-Peru).

Coaches: Rob Judson (Illinois ’80) is 44-55 in his fourth season at Northern Illinois. Miami (Ohio) head coach Charlie Coles is 144-107 in his ninth season with the RedHawks and 236-191 in his 15th season overall as a head coach.

Northern Illinois at Miami (Ohio) Probable Starting Lineups
Northern Illinois Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG

F 33 Johnathan Byrd 6-9 225 Sr. Chicago, IL 9.1 4.0 0.6
F 32 Todd Peterson 6-8 225 Jr. Pekin, IL 9.6 2.7 1.0
G 22 Cory Sims 6-1 185 Jr. Livingston, AL 8.3 3.8 4.7
G 23 Mike McKinney 6-4 200 So. Evanston, IL 10.3 5.6 1.8
G 3 Anthony Maestranzi 5-10 165 Jr. Bartlett, IL 8.9 1.2 4.1

Miami (Ohio) Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown PPG RPG APG
F 31 Nathan Peavy 6-8 215 So. Dayton, OH 7.7 3.7 1.4
F 33 Danny Horace 6-6 242 Sr. Cincinnati, OH 17.0 11.3 1.6
C 30 Monty St. Clair 6-9 248 So. Cincinnati, OH 9.0 1.8 1.2
G 4 Chet Mason 6-4 184 Sr. Cleveland, OH 13.8 7.7 2.1
G 25 William Hatcher 6-2 184 Jr. Flint, MI 7.6 1.3 3.1

Northern Illinois is in its 100th season of college basketball and will be playing its 1,968th contest this evening ... The Huskies are 1,009-958 all-time and will be looking for their 13th win against Miami (OH), but just its second win in Oxford ... The Huskies only win at Miami came Feb. 21, 1981 via a 75-63 decision ... Northern Illinois can cross another arena off the “hit list” with a win in Millett Hall ... The only MAC arenas the Huskies have yet to win in during Rob Judson’s tenure are Millett Hall in Oxford, OH, Rhodes Arena in Akron, OH, and the Henderson Center in Huntington, W.V. ... Speaking of Judson, tonight is the 100th game for the fourth-year coach ... Something will have to give as Miami enters the contest 4-0 at home this season, while the Huskies have built up an impressive 4-2 record away from the Convocation Center ... The Huskies and RedHawks have shared one common opponent thus far ... The Huskies dropped a heartbreaking 65-63 decision to Southwest Missouri State on a last-second shot, while Miami fell at SMS by a 69-63 final ... Todd Peterson has blocked five shots in the last three games and is tied for the team lead with James Hughes during that stretch ... Peterson also shot his first free throw of the season vs. Western Michigan last Sunday ... Peterson’s last free throw was Jan. 25, 2004 vs. Buffalo ... Anthony Maestranzi has hit 16 consecutive free throws.

Scouting Miami (OH)
Traditionally one of the MAC’s top defensive clubs, Miami enters today’s game 6-3 overall and undefeated at home (4-0) ... The RedHawks will be playing their first game in nine days following a 77-53 loss to Cincinnati at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati ... Miami started the season with flurry, notching five wins in six games, including a win over Purdue (81-71) at home and a rare 66-54 road win at Xavier ... Miami is 1-0 in conference play following an 83-75 overtime win over Ball State at Millett ... Danny Horace is one of the MAC’s most complete players and leads the RedHawks in both scoring and rebounding ... The 6-foot-6, 242 pound bruiser ranks third in the league in scoring (17.0) and tops in rebounding (11.3) ... Horace is the lone MAC player averaging a double-double this season ... Chet Mason joins Horace in double figures with 13.8 points and 7.7 boards.

The Series With The RedHawks
Miami leads the all-time series 12-18 and owns a resounding 15-1 series lead in games played in Oxford ... While Northern Illinois got a much-needed 62-54 win last season, the RedHawks have won nine straight in the series at home, including a 59-56 decision on Feb. 25, 2003 ... The series is split 5-5 over the last 10 meetings with each team holding serve of their respective home floors ... The last non-home court win in the series came Feb. 15, 1984, when Miami won 60-51 in Chick Evans Field House.

McKinney Registers First Career Double-Double vs. W. Michigan
Sophomore guard Mike McKinney enjoyed a career day in the near upset of defending MAC Champion Western Michigan on Jan. 2 ... A 6-foot-4 guard, McKinney recorded his first career double-double, with career-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds vs. the Broncos in a 72-69 defeat ... The team’s top rebounder (6.0), McKinney became the first Huskie to enjoy a double-double since Marcus Smallwood on March 6, 2004, at Western Michigan with 13 points and 10 rebounds ... The last NIU guard with a point-rebound double-double was Stephen Jones, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 boards on Feb. 2, 2001, against Central Michigan in 81-74 overtime loss in DeKalb.

Playing Beyond Their Years
A young club with just one senior (Johnathan Byrd) Northern Illinois continues to enjoy great performances from its underclassmen this season ... Although 12-of-13 players will return for next season, eight of the team’s 10 healthy players are contributing now, led by the four-player sophomore class of James Hughes, Bryson McKenzie, Mike McKinney and Paige Paulsen ... McKinney continues to lead the team in scoring and rebounding with 11.2 points and 6.0 boards, which included his first career double-double, a 19-point, 10 board effort vs. Western Michigan (Jan. 2) ... Hughes and Paulsen both average 8.4 and 8.1 points, respectively, to help the sophomores average 28.4 points and 16.0 boards per contest ... Below is a class-by-class comparison for point-rebound production and their percentage of the 2004-05 season production:

Class Pts (%) Rebs. (%)
Freshmen 7.3 (10.5) 2.2 (7.9)
Sophomores 28.4 (40.4) 16.0 (53.3)
Juniors 25.8 (37.0) 7.7 (26.2)
Seniors 8.6 (12.1) 3.8 (12.6)

Filling-It-Up: NIU Vets Maestranzi, Peterson At Home On The Road
Northern Illinois, and in particular, juniors Anthony Maestranzi and Todd Peterson, have found comfort in the thousands of fans screaming AT them on the road instead of WITH them at home ... Now 4-2 in games away from the Convocation Center, NIU hits the road yet again for back-to-back tussles at Miami (Jan. 5) and Bowling Green (Jan. 9) and NIU’s two most experienced players couldn’t be happier ... So far this season, Peterson (11.2 ppg) and Maestranzi (10.0) are averaging double figures on the road and are shooting a robust 54.5 and 60.9 percent, respectively, from three-point range ... While Peterson scored a career high 20 points in a road win at Eastern Illinois, Maestranzi lit up Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for a career high tying 19 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting ... At the two-game tourney, Maestranzi and Peterson combined for 67 points on 17-of-27 (.629) shooting from three-point range.

Three Huskies Earn All-Tournament Accolades
Led by Most Valuable Performer Anthony Maestranzi, Northern Illinois placed a tournament-record tying three players on the All-Tournament Team at the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Flint Hills Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi, TX (Dec. 28-29) ... Maestranzi averaged 17.5 points and hit 9-of-12 three-pointers in the two wins, as NIU won its first tourney title since the 1999-2000 season ... The 5-foot-10 guard averaged 14.5 points and hit all-seven of his three-point attempts in the second half of both contests to help the Huskies overcome halftime deficits to St. Bonaventure (28-27) and Texas A&M-CC (36-27) ... Todd Peterson and Mike McKinney joined Maestranzi on the All-Tournament squad ... Like his classmate Maestranzi, Peterson was on fire from bonus distance, hitting 8-of-15 (.533) treys, which included a team-high tying 19 points in the title game vs. TAMU-CC ... McKinney was the tourney’s most versatile performer, averaging 10.5 points, 3.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game ... In the opener vs. St. Bonaventure, McKinney battled through a 2-of-10 shooting performance to pace the team with six assists and eight boards, before pouring in 13 points in the finale.

The Three Is The Key
Three-point shooting has been the key for Northern Illinois as the Huskies are averaging 9.6 treys per game in their five wins and just 5.6 in their five losses ... The MAC’s second ranked shooting team from bonus distance (.409), NIU is shooting 42.8 percent over their last eight games, including 23-of-42 (.548) in their two-game tournament win at the Flint Hills Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi, TX ... The Huskies opened by hitting 11-of-20 treys vs. St. Bonaventure, before burying a season-high 12 triples vs. the host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in the championship finale ... NIU has already reached double-figures in three-point makes three times this season, including the 11 it hit in a 84-69 win at DePaul … Last week the Huskies made 31 triples (62 attempts) in three games vs. the Bonnies, Islanders and Western Michigan, going 2-1 to improve to .500 on the year.

The Italian Assassin: Maestranzi Deadly From Beyond The Arc
Mired in an early-season shooting slump that saw him hit just 27 percent of his shots from the floor (9-of-33), Anthony Maestranzi has burst onto the scene with a 13.0 ppg. scoring average over his last four games ... After opening with a nine point effort at Kansas State (Dec. 21), Maestranzi led the Huskies in back-to-back contests, by scoring 16 points vs. St. Bonaventure (Dec. 28) and a career-high tying 19 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 29) before pouring in eight vs. Western Michigan (Jan. 2) ... The junior has hit 12-of-21 (.571) three-pointers during the stretch, including 10-of-14 shooting from bonus distance in the second half ... Now sixth in the MAC in three-point field goal percentage (.422), the Bartlett, IL, native hit 9-of-12 treys at the two-game Flint Hills Islander Invitational, averaging a team best 17.5 points, 14.5 of which came in the second half to earn MVP honors.

Second Half Adjustments Leads To Winning Trend
Second-half adjustments and strong three-point shooting have led the Huskies to wins in four of their last six outings ... During that stretch, NIU has outscored its opponent in the second half four times, coming away victorious on each occasion ... Over the six-game span, NIU has built up a 237-205 second-half scoring advantage, an average margin of nearly eight points (49.6-34.1) per game ... The Huskies were only outscored in the second half by Kansas State (40-30), a 81-66 road loss to the Wildcats and Western Michigan (42-37) the defending MAC Champions to run up that 4-2 record ... Northern Illinois’ second-half adjustments stepped to the forefront at the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Flint Hills Invitational in Corpus Christi, TX ... In the two come-from-behind wins vs. St. Bonaventure and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, NIU outscored its foes 90-65 in the second half to rally from a pair of halftime deficits ... Overall, the Huskies shot 58.3 percent from the field in the second half of both wins and 66.7 percent (14-of-21) from three-point range ... Against TAMU-CC in the championship game, the Huskies shot 70.8 percent from the floor (17-of-24) and hit 8-of-12 treys ... Overall this season, the Huskies are outscoring their opponents 337-307 in the second half (37.4-33.3).

Northern Illinois Half-By-Half Comparison
(Last Six Games, 4-2 Overall Record)

First Half Stat Second Half
30.6 Points Per 39.5
32.5 Opp. Points Per 34.1
44.7 FG% 47.3
41.7 Opp. FG% 49.9
36.7 3FG% 44.7
32.9 Opp. 3FG% 34.9

Road Sweet Road?
Sounds funny but it’s true for Rob Judson’s young Huskies ... Just 1-3 in home games, Northern Illinois is sporting a glossy 4-2 mark away from the Convo this season, with four non-home wins in their last five tries including a two-game tournament win in Corpus Christi, TX (Dec. 28-29), and a pair of impressive road wins at DePaul (Nov. 27) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 11) ... NIU got its first win of 2004-05 at DePaul’s Allstate Arena by an 84-69 margin, marking the first time it had ever won at DePaul and giving Judson his first win in Chicagoland ... The Huskies then traveled to Charleston, IL, to face the 3-2 Eastern Illinois Panthers and outscored the hosts 44-26 in the second half to cruise to the 76-60 win ... That 16-point triumph was the largest margin of victory on the road since a 63-46 win at Bowling Green (Jan. 25, 2003) and the largest non-conference road win since a 79-57 win at Drake (Dec. 22, 2001) ... Most recently, the Huskies won a pair of games at the Flint Hills Islander Invitational in Corpus Christi over St. Bonaventure (71-62) and the host Texas A&M-Corpus CC Islanders (73-67) in the championship game ... Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was ranked No. 25 in the RPI at the time of the game … Conversely, NIU is just 1-3 at home this year with those three losses coming by a combined seven points.

Road Sweet Road ... The Stats
Below is a statistical comparison of Northern Illinois’ three home and six non-home games this season.

Home Category Road
1-3 Overall Record 4-2
68.0 NIU Points Per 71.0
67.8 Opp. Points Per 67.0
41.8 Field Goal % 46.6
44.2 Opp. Field Goal % 43.9
37.7 Three-Point FG% 43.6
38.8 Opp. Three-Point FG% 36.1
72.4 Free Throw % 74.2
36.2 Rebounds Per 30.7
+ 3.7 Rebound Margin -2.6
14.0 Assists Per 16.3
7.3 Steals Per 7.3
16.0 Turnovers Per 13.3

Huskies Enjoying Season of Firsts
The 2004-05 campaign has become a “Season of Firsts” for the Huskies ... NIU notched its first-ever win at DePaul (84-69) on Nov. 27 and opened MAC play with a win (66-58 vs. Akron) for the first time since Jan. 4, 1984 (76-67, vs. Central Michigan) ... The Akron contest was also NIU’s first win in a conference-opener of any kind since Jan 4, 1996, when the Huskies defeated Loyola to open Midwestern Collegiate Conference play ... Northern Illinois continued its “Season of Firsts” on Dec. 11 at Eastern Illinois when it won at Lantz Arena for the first time since Jan. 27, 1992, and the tournament title at Texas A&M Corpus Christi was the program’s first since winning the Florida International/Doral Tipoff during the 1999-2000 season ... A win today by the Huskies would be their first at Miami (OH) since Feb. 21, 1981, a stretch of nine consecutive losses.

NIU Topples Second RPI Top 25 Foe
Northern Illinois’ 73-67 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi gave the Huskies their second win over a Top 25 RPI opponent this season ... The Huskies earned their first “quality” win on Nov. 27 when they won at DePaul (84-69) when the Blue Demons were receiving votes in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches and Associated Press Top 25 polls.

Balanced Huskies ... Scoring
With 8-of-10 players averaging better than 6.3 points per game, it’s no surprise opponents have had trouble game planning around one specific Huskie ... In just 10 contests, NIU has had a different leading scorer seven times with only sophomore Mike McKinney and juniors Todd Peterson and Anthony Maestranzi leading the team in point production more than once ... Prior to Maestranzi and Peterson’s 19-point effort at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Huskies had a run of seven consecutive games with a different leading scorer:

NIU Opponents High Scorer
at Loyola 13 - McKinney
SMS 11 - McKinney
at DePaul 19 - Paulsen
Bradley 17 - Sims
Akron 15 - Pancratz
at Eastern Illinois 20 - Peterson
at Kansas State 14 - Byrd
vs. St. Bonaventure 16 - Maestranzi
at TAMU-Corpus Christi 19 - Maestranzi
19 - Peterson
vs. Western Michigan 19 - McKinney

While McKinney (11.2) is the lone Huskie averaging double figures, Peterson (9.2), Maestranzi (8.8), Johnathan Byrd (8.6), James Hughes (8.4) and Paige Paulsen (8.1) all average better than eight points per game.

Balanced Huskies ... Minutes
As you would expect, that balance extends to playing time as well, as each participant in NIU’s eight-man rotation averages better than 18.6 minutes per contest ... Only Anthony Maestranzi (33.7 mpg) averages more than 30 minutes per game, while Mike McKinney (29.0), Cory Sims (26.6), Zach Pancratz (25.6), Johnathan Byrd (20.3), Todd Peterson (20.8) and Paige Paulsen (20.6) average more than 20 minutes ... Just off that 20-minute pace is James Hughes, who averages 18.6 minutes ... Six of the eight Huskies (excluding Peterson and Hughes) have all played at least 30 minutes in a game this season, led by Maestranzi, who has accomplished the feat nine times in 10 tries ... McKinney (five times) and Sims (four times) have each done it on multiple occasions, while the freshman Pancratz has done it three times ... Seven of the eight Huskies (Peterson excluded) in the rotation have set career highs for playing time this season.

Peterson Heating Up From Three
Junior forward Todd Peterson continues to be a match-up nightmare because of his size and shooting prowess ... Among the team’s tallest players at 6-foot-8, Peterson is quickly moving up Northern Illinois’ career three-point shooting chart thanks to his 23-of-49 (.469) start from beyond the arc this season ... After opening the year 0-of-3 from three-point range vs. Loyola (Nov. 20) and Southwest Missouri State (Nov. 24), Peterson has hit at least one trey in eight consecutive games and has hit 23-of-46 treys (.500) over that stretch ... Peterson has hit three or more 3-pointers five times this season with four of those coming in the last six games ... The Pekin, IL, native moved into sixth in NIU history in career three-pointers (137) at the Flint Hills Islander Invitational (Dec. 28-29) where he hit 8-of-15 treys in wins over St. Bonaventure (3-of-7) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-of-8) to earn All-Tournament Team recognition ... Earlier this season, Peterson enjoyed a 5-of-6 afternoon at DePaul (Nov. 27), and 4-of-6 shooting vs. Eastern Illinois (Dec. 11) ... Next on the NIU career list for Peterson is Chris Coleman, who made 145 career three-pointers.

Calling Up The Reserves: NIU Bench Producing Big Numbers
Northern Illinois’ bench has provided an impressive 38.4 percent of the team’s scoring this season with 26.8 of the team’s 69.8 points per game coming from the reserves ... Overall, the Huskies have enjoyed 11 double-figure scoring performances from their bench, including career highs of 20 points by Todd Peterson (at Eastern Illinois, Dec. 11), 17 points by Cory Sims (vs. Bradley, Dec. 1) and 15 points by Zach Pancratz (vs. Akron, Dec. 4) ... James Hughes has also reached double-figures three times off the pine, while Sims and Peterson and accomplished the feat three times as well ... Most recently, Paige Paulsen came off the bench to pour in 16 in a 72-69 loss to Western Michigan.

Maestranzi, Sims Among MAC’s Top Assist Combinations
Juniors Anthony Maestranzi and Cory Sims are one of the most proficient assist tandems in the Mid-American Conference ... Second in the MAC to Kent State’s DeAndre Haynes (7.4 apg) and Jason Edwin (2.0 apg), Maestranzi and Sims are combining for 8.5 assists per contest and are the only teammates to rank among the top 10 in the league in assists per game ... Sims recently moved into the team lead (45 assists) by averaging 5.6 assists per game over his previous five contests, thanks to a career high eight assists at Eastern Illinois (Dec. 11) and at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 29) ... Sims currently ranks eighth in the MAC with 4.5 assists per game, just ahead of Maestranzi, who ranks ninth with 4.0 dimes per outing ... The 5-foot-10 guard also ranks second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.6-to-1).

Huskies Secure MAC-Opening Win
For the first time since Jan. 4, 1984, Northern Illinois came away with a win in a Mid-American Conference opener, thanks to a 66-58 triumph over the Akron Zips in DeKalb ... To help put that losing streak in perspective, Lionel Richie’s All Night Long was the No. 1 song in America at the time of the last Huskie win and stamps cost just $.20 ... Prior to the victory, NIU had lost nine consecutive MAC lid-lifters and eight straight conference openers of any kind ... The last conference-opening win was Jan. 4, 1996, vs. Loyola when the Huskies and Ramblers were members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

McKinney Boarding Like Crazy
There aren’t many better rebounding guards than Mike McKinney ... With 5.6 boards per game, the 6-foot-4 sophomore is not only the team leader, but ranks third in the MAC among guards, just behind Miami’s Chet Mason (7.7 rpg), and Western Michigan’s Ben Reed (6.2 rpg) ... Over the past seven games, McKinney is averaging 6.0 rebounds, including eight boards vs. DePaul (Nov. 27) and St. Bonaventure (Dec. 28) and seven more vs. Bradley (Dec. 1) ... Overall, McKinney ranks 14th in the MAC regardless of position.

Sims’ Simmers Down The Stretch
Newcomer Cory Sims is at his best with the game on the line ... Although the Huskies have dropped three close home decisions by a combined seven points, the junior college transfer has played a big part in putting the Huskies in a position to win every night out ... The team’s best penetrator, Sims has scored 33 of his 78 points (42.3 percent) in the game’s final 6:19 ... On Dec. 1 vs. Bradley, Sims scored 10 of his career high 17 points in the final 4:49, plus the overtime period, to bring NIU storming back in a 76-74 overtime loss ... Sims also scored seven of his 10 points in the final 2:14 in a 65-63 home loss to Southwest Missouri State and five of his 10 points in the final 6:19 in the opener at Loyola.

Byrd Lifts-Off, Sets Career-Highs In 10 Statistical Categories
The most improved player in the Mid-American Conference? ... At the very least, senior center Johnathan Byrd will get consideration as he continues his torrid start to his final season of collegiate basketball ... Seldom used (7.9 mpg) off the pine last season, Byrd has developed into NIU’s most dependable post performer and ranks fourth on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg), while leading the squad in field goal percentage (63.2) ... A starter in all-10 games this season, Byrd has already tripled his 2003-04 scoring output of 28 points and his 20.3 minutes per game ranks second on the team among post players ... After opening the season with a career-high 11 points at Loyola (11/20/04), Byrd reset that career number with 13 first-half points in the Huskies’ 84-69 win at DePaul and did it again with 14 points vs. Bradley (12/1/04) and Kansas State (12/21/04) ... Byrd is shooting a team-best 63.2 percent from the floor (36-of-57) and is second in the MAC with 16 blocked shots ... Just 10 games into the season, Byrd has set career highs in points (14), field goals (6), field goal attempts (9), free throws (3), free throw attempts (4), rebounds (7), assists (3), blocks (3), steals (2) and minutes (32).

Not In My House: Hughes, Byrd Producing Big Blocked Shot Totals
Sophomore James Hughes and senior Johnathan Byrd have become a dominant defensive force in the middle for the Huskies ... The duo ranks first and second respectively in the MAC and have helped NIU to a Conference-leading 48 blocks as a team ... Hughes leads the league with 1.9 swats per contest (19 total) with 15 coming in the past seven games including: Bradley (4), Akron (3) and Eastern Illinois (3) and Western Michigan (3) ... Byrd ranks second in the MAC with 16 blocks (1.6 bpg) and has recorded at least one swat in 9-of-10 contests, including a career-high three vs. SMS (Nov. 24) ... Including Hughes and Byrd, 7-of-10 Huskies have recorded at least one blocked shot this season ... Cory Sims, Bryson McKenzie and Anthony Maestranzi are the only Huskies excluded from the “Block Party”.

‘Tis The Season: Maestranzi Near Perfect As Huskie Assist Man
Finally healthy after an injury-plagued 2003-04 season, junior point guard Anthony Maestranzi has been near-flawless running the point for Northern Illinois this season ... A capable shooter from the perimeter (19-of-45 3FG’s, .422), Maestranzi has done some of his best work as a set-up man, dishing out 40 assists, while committing just 11 turnovers ... Over his last 333:54 (more than eight full games), Maestranzi has committed just 10 turnovers and is averaging only one turnover every 33:35 of playing time during that stretch ... Over the last 10 games, the Bartlett, IL, native has dished out 40 dimes and has a MAC-best 3.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio ... Maestranzi recently moved into the Northern Illinois Top 10 in career assists and is one of six Huskies to top 200 career assists.

Just Add Water: James Hughes Makes Instant Impact Off The Pine
Although he ranks eighth on the team in minutes played (18.6), sophomore center James Hughes has had little trouble doubling his point and rebound production from a year ago as he ranks fifth on the squad in points (8.4) and is second in rebounding (5.8) ... One of the nation’s most efficient players, Hughes is averaging 0.5 points per minute of playing time and has a 1.02-to-1 positive impact ratio, meaning the 6-foot-11 sophomore’s point, rebound and blocked shot average per minute equals 1.02 ... In addition to the 0.5 points per minute, Hughes is averaging 0.32 rebounds and 0.1 blocks per minute of playing time.

Byrd, Hughes, McKenzie NIU’s Three-Headed Monster At Center
It’s not Luc Longley, Will Perdue and Bill Wennington (of Chicago Bulls fame), but the results, at least during the early portion of 2004-05, have been the same ... Northern Illinois head coach Rob Judson has gone with the “center-by-committee” approach so far this season and is getting great production from senior Johnathan Byrd and sophomores James Hughes and Bryson McKenzie ... Although McKenzie is just recently seeing more action, Byrd and Hughes have carried the load to help the Huskies to four wins in the last six games ... Byrd, Hughes and McKenzie are playing a combined 41.6 minutes per game and account for 17.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 0.7 steals per game ... During the 1994-95 season, when Longley, Perdue and Wennington were Chicago’s “Men in the Middle”, the trio averaged 17.2 points, 14.1 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 3.0 assists and 1.2 blocks in 51.7 minutes.

Free Throw Shooting Carries NIU While Offense Develops
It’s way to early to start talking about records, but a Northern Illinois team has never shot free throws this well ... Second in the Mid-American Conference (Ball State, 73.7) with a 73.5 percent shooting stroke from the line, the Huskies have connected on 144-of-196 charity shots through 10 games and 24-of-30 (80.0) attempts over the past two outings ... Three Huskies are shooting better than 80.0 percent from the stripe including junior guard Anthony Maestranzi (23-of-28), who has swished home a record 16 straight ... Sophomore Paige Paulsen leads the way with 84.6 percent shooting (11-of-13) while freshman Zach Pancratz (16-of-20) ranks third due to five consecutive makes himself ... Three other Huskies are above 70 percent and just one regular, Johnathan Byrd is below that 70 percent plateau ... However, Byrd’s free-throwing has been much improved from a year ago, when he hit 6-of-21 attempts (28.6) ... Speaking of 2003-04, NIU ranked 11th in the MAC in free throw shooting (428-of-653, .655) and let a devastating 225 points slip away during a campaign that saw them drop 13 games by 10 points or less.

Peterson Earns Goedert MVP Award, Scores 15 In Win At DePaul
Following a second-half three-point barrage, which saw Northern Illinois extend its nine-point halftime lead on DePaul, junior forward Todd Peterson was named the inaugural Jay Goedert Most Valuable Player for the Northern Illinois - DePaul contest on Nov. 27 ... Named for the former Northern Illinois (1985-87) and DePaul (1987-97) assistant coach, Goedert was a member of legendary coach John McDougal’s final staff (1985-86) at NIU and also served on Jim Rosborough’s first staff (1986-87) ... Goedert then moved on to DePaul, where he coached under Joey Meyer (1987-97) for 10 seasons ... Peterson finished the contest with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three-point range to help lead the Huskies to the resounding 84-69 road win.



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