NIU men's cager Marcus Smallwood wins second MAC West POW award in three weeks



February 3, 2003


CLEVELAND, OH - Every time out, Northern Illinois University men's basketball coach Rob Judson knows he's going to get the most out of Marcus Smallwood (Elgin). Last week was no exception as the junior forward helped keep the Huskies at the top of the Mid-American Conference West Division. Averaging a double-double for the two games, Smallwood was named MAC West Division Player of the Week by commissioner Rick Chryst on Monday (Feb. 3).


The award is Smallwood's second Mid-Am honor in the last three weeks. He garnered his first accolade on January 20. He joins an elite list of Huskies who have won the award twice in one year, including teammate P.J. Smith (Maywood / Proviso East) who grabbed NIU's first league honor on December 23, 2002. Johnny Hollingsworth of Akron and Ohio's Brandon Hunter shared East Division accolades.


Against Hollingsworth's Zips and Ball State, Smallwood averaged 17.0 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per contest. Even though the Cardinals stopped his conference-best streak of six-straight double-doubles, the Huskies prevailed 78-60 and moved back into a tie with Central Michigan for tops in the division at 6-3.


"That fact that Marcus' rebounding effort has coincided with our record in January is directly related," Judson said. "Marcus is playing his role as hard as he can and in turn that leads everyone else to playing their role as hard as they can. As a result we've been playing more consistent basketball."


On Wednesday, the Huskies started the week with a thrilling 101-100 double overtime loss to Akron. In that contest, Smallwood scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to become the first NIU player since Donnell Thomas in the 1987-88 campaign to register six consecutive double doubles. He came up one rebound short of his seventh double-dip, nabbing nine boards to go along 15 points versus Ball State. At the defensive end, he added three blocks and tied his career-high with four steals.


For the season, Smallwood rates 14th in the nation, and third in the league, with his 10.4 rpg. When you consider his height, his numbers look even more impressive. Only Louis Truscott of Houston (12.8 rpg.) and Amein Hick of Morris Brown (11.8 rpg.), who also stand in at 6-foot-6, have more rebounds than Smallwood. In other league categories, he ranks first in offensive rebounds (4.00 rpg.) and is the Mid-Am's sixth-best shot blocker (1.21 blocks per game). Among the Huskies, Smallwood rates second on the squad at 13.1 ppg. Saturday he moved into 48th on the NIU all-time scoring list at 726 career points.


Against league competition Smallwood's numbers only get better. At the offensive end his 15.6 ppg. places him 14th, while shooting 57.8 percent (third) from the floor and 75.0 percent (15th) at the free throw line. In MAC play, he continues to top the conference at 4.33 offensive boards, but moves up to second overall at 11.8 rpg.


"Marcus has been truly consistent with his rebounding effort," Judson added. "He is on a mission right now to average double figure rebounds. Marcus is setting the standard for the effort level for our team."


Smallwood and the Huskies will try to hold on to the top spot in the West when they travel to Buffalo for a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday (Feb. 8). NIU visits East Division leader Kent State Saturday (Feb. 6) in a 2 p.m. showdown.


-Copy by Michael Smoose





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