DeKalb, Ill. - Northern Illinois opens up its Mid-American Conference campaign on Saturday (January 5) afternoon, as the Huskies travel to Kalamazoo, for a 1 p.m. (CST) tip-off with Western Michigan at University Arena.
The Huskies (3-9, 0-0) are coming off of a 59-55 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock in their non-conference finale last Saturday. The Huskies are led offensively by both freshman guard Darion Anderson and junior guard Jarvis Nichols, each of whom is averaging 9.3 points-per-game.
Western Michigan (6-7, 0-0) earned the 79-43 win over North Carolina Central on Wednesday night. Broncos senior center Joe Reitz is averaging a team-best 14.4 points-per-game, followed by 13.8 points-per-game from sophomore guard David Kool.
All-Time Series: Western Michigan holds a 42-27 lead over the Huskies in their all-time series.
The Last Time: Western Michigan's David Kool knocked down four free throws in the final 10 seconds to help the Broncos to a 67-62 win over the Huskies in the opening round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on March 7, 2007. Kool finished with 14 points, while junior center Joe Reitz added a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. NIU freshman guard Cody Yelder led the Huskies with a game-high 20 points.
MAC Openers: Northern Illinois has won its last three Mid-American Conference openers with victories over Akron (2004-05), Toledo (2005-06) and Western Michigan (2006-07).
MAC West Player of the Week: The Mid-American Conference announced on Monday (December 31) that NIU senior forward Shaun Logan has been named the MAC West Division Player of the Week for the period ending December 30. Logan totaled a season-high 20 points, including eight rebounds and career-highs in steals (5) and blocks (3) in the Huskies' 59-55 win over Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday (December 29) afternoon.
Turnovers=Victories?: All three of Northern Illinois' victories this season have come in spite of turning the ball over at least 20 times in each game. The last time that the Huskies won at least three games in a season with at least 20 turnovers in each contest came during the 2000-01 campaign. Conversely, NIU has forced an average of 21 turnovers in each of their victories.
Defensive Clamps: NIU's first six opponents of the season, each shot 50.0% or better against the Huskies. Since then, the Huskies have held four of their last six opponents to under 40.0% shooting from the field.
Injury Report: Senior guard Ryan Paradise fractured his nose against Stephen F. Austin on November 24. The Naperville, Ill., native underwent surgery on Friday, November 30, and will be out indefinitely. Sophomore forward Najul Ervin (concussion) will be a gametime decision.
Like Father, Like Son: NIU head coach Ricardo Patton is one of 13 coaches across America, whose son is playing for his squad. Michael Patton is a freshman point guard for the Huskies, who is averaging 6.5 points-per-game.
Clutch Shooting: Northern Illinois guard Jarvis Nichols (4-for-4) and senior forward Egan Grafel (2-for-2) are each perfect from the free throw line with under two minutes remaining in the contest.
Logan's Run: NIU senior forward Shaun Logan has knocked down at least one trey in the last eight games. During that span, Logan is shooting 43.5% (10-for-23) from beyond the arc.
Are You Experienced?: Of NIU's 11 active players, the Huskies have six student-athletes who are in their first season of Division I basketball. Sixth Man: NIU junior guard Jarvis Nichols is second in the Mid-American Conference in scoring off the bench, as the Huskies' sixth man is chipping in 9.3 points-per-game. Buffalo's Sean Smiley has come off the bench in all 12 of the Bulls' contests and is averaging 10.8 points-per-game. Both Nichols and Smiley have started less than one-third of their squads' contests.
Bench Play: The NIU bench outscored the Huskie starters 45-30 in the 86-75 loss to Green Bay on December 22, marking the fifth time this season, the most in NIU Division I history, that the reserves have accomplished that feat.
Productive Player: Senior forward Michael Hart is averaging 5.6 points and 11.4 minutes of action-per-game for the Huskies, which translates to a team-best 0.489 points-per-minute.
Calling All Alumni: NIU will hold its 8th Annual Alumni Day on February 2, prior to the Huskies' 2 p.m. showdown against Ohio. Doors will open at 10 a.m. with the Alumni game held at 11 a.m. at the NIU Convocation Center. For more information, contact NIU Director of Marketing Cindy Green at (815) 753-0369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recruiting Class: NIU head coach Ricardo Patton has inked four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent, including guards Mike Dinunno (Chicago, Ill./Von Steuben), Bryan Hall (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young), Dominique Johnson (Detroit, Mich./Southwest Tennessee C.C.) and forward Tyler Storm (Geneseo, Ill./Geneseo) to play for the Huskies in 2008.
Lost Long Range: Senior Zach Pancratz is sitting out the 2007-08 season after undergoing left shoulder surgery to correct continued instability in his non-shooting arm. Last season, Pancratz led NIU with 51 trifectas.
Time Change: Tip-off for Northern Illinois' contest against Akron on February 12 has been changed from 6 p.m. (CST) to 7 p.m. (CST) as the game is now a part of the Mid-American Conference television schedule.
My Name Is: Guard Darion Anderson's nickname is "Jake".
Up Next: NIU opens its home MAC slate on January 13, as the Huskies welcome West Division rival Toledo to the Convocation Center for a 2 p.m. tip-off.