Huskie Men's and Women's Basketball Host Annual Media Day

GO HUSKIES Ricardo Patton
Ricardo Patton

Nov. 6, 2008

DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois men's and women's basketball teams held their annual media day at the Convocation Center Thursday. Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Jeff Compher, both head coaches and select student-athletes talked about the 2008-09 campaign.

The men's basketball team will play its final exhibition game at the Convocation Center Saturday, against Carthage College, beginning at 2 p.m. The Huskie women host St. Xavier next Monday (Nov. 10) in the first of two exhibition contests.

Athletic Director Jeff Compher
On men's and women's teams' upcoming seasons ...
"I am very excited about our upcoming seasons. If I had to put some of my comments or impressions into one phrase; it would be that I am very impressed with both of our coaching staffs, and what they are doing. This is going to be an exciting year for Northern Illinois, and I have to tell you, I am very impressed with this facility as well. As you look out on that shiny floor, you know there has been a lot of sweat put down on that already this year. I just can't wait to see how this season unfolds for both teams."

Head women's basketball coach Carol Owens
On the team's off-season, and the developing team leadership abilities ...
"We spent a lot of time practicing and learning during the off-season. This is an exciting time, and we are really looking forward to it. I like the strides that we have made, but there is still work to be done. After the final game last year, our team knew what needed to be accomplished. This has been one of the smoothest pre-seasons we have ever had. These past two weeks, I have challenged the team to develop their identity. We have done that, and I think we are headed in the right direction."

On the 2008-09 schedule ...
"Our schedule will be competitive, as usual, with DePaul, Illinois State, Wisconsin, Southern Illinois and others. We will be on the road quite a bit, and that is where we need to improve. To be a good team, we need to go into somebody else's gym, and get a victory."



On the challenges of Mid-American Conference play ...
"As we start in January in conference play, our league will be up in the air. You can't predict who is going to win the MAC this year, and that is the beauty of our conference. There is more parity than I can ever remember."

Head men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton
On the advantages of Northern Illinois University in the recruiting process ...
"As we enter our second season here at NIU, as Jeff Compher mentioned earlier, I continue to be impressed by this beautiful facility. As we recruit and bring players and parents to this university, academically we are second to none, and socially, there is not a better place for a young lady or man to attend."

On NIU's first exhibition game (Nov. 2) ...
"Our first exhibition game went well, but I have to take some blame for the first half deficit. I was trying to mix and match some lineups, and we fell behind by six at halftime. In the second half, we played well. Guys like Mike DiNunno and Lee Fisher came out and played well. The fans, I believe, left that game feeling good about the players and the foundation that we have laid going forward."

On the challenges of the non-conference schedule ...
"I am excited about our non-conference schedule. We play in a couple of tournaments in Georgia and Alaska early on, which will be a good experience for our guys. As we promised when we first came last year, we want to play a tough non-conference schedule, because I believe it prepares our young men for post-season play."

"We are willing to work harder and try to improve on anything we can. We are soaking up anything coach Patton says, and applying it on the court."
Senior men's basketball forward Sean Smith

Sophomore guard Michael Patton
On having a lot of new faces on the team ...
"It hasn't been that hard, because all the new guys are down to earth. Getting everybody to hang out is pretty easy. Once we get that chemistry on the court, and learn how to play together, we will be in good shape."

On the team's chemistry heading into the season ...
"The chemistry is coming along really well, and the fact that our younger guys are really talented makes it easier on the court to read each other."

On the biggest differences between this year and last year's team ... "Our overall talent is the main difference between this year and last year. We not only have talent at each position, but we have depth at each position, as well."

Redshirt freshman forward Lee Fisher
On his redshirt year last season ...
"It feels real good to get back out on the court, and wear that Huskie uniform. It felt good to put it on. On the court (during Sunday's exhibition game), it was awkward at first, but I got comfortable quickly."

Senior forward Sean Smith
On the responsibility of being one of the team's leaders ...
"I am just trying to be a good example and good role model for the newcomers; show them the ropes, bring energy every day so they can grow, mature, and become better basketball players."

On the team chemistry
"We have a good mix, and we bonded quicker then people would think. Just talking to each other and being around each other has it helped it a lot. I think we are going to be a good team and just keep working."

On the biggest differences between this year and last year's team
"We are willing to work harder and try and improve on anything we can. We are soaking up anything coach Patton says, and applying it on the court."

Carol Owens

Senior forward Becky Smith
On her outlook on the team make-up heading into the season ...
"We are excited for this year, and have a lot of potential on this team, with a lot of returnees, but a good mix of freshmen."

On the team chemistry
"The chemistry is amazing. We have all worked hard this summer, and that has helped us grow as a team. We have seen improvements, and the team is coming together early in the season."

Biggest difference between last year and this year ...
"This year, we are slightly more motivated to come out and prove ourselves. I think there is stronger leadership, since so many of us are returning."

Junior guard/forward Terriel Cannon
On the team chemistry ...
"Everybody is working hard. With the newcomers, everyone is coming in and working hard, trying to get everything on pace quicker than in the past."

On the addition of Marke Freeman ...
"As a point guard, she is going to bring a lot. With her leadership abilities, she is going to be a very good addition."

Junior guard Marke Freeman
Re-capping her transfer season (2007-08) ...
"I have pretty much been in the groove of things. I didn't miss anything but the games. I know some things are going to take some getting used to again, but once I do that, everything will fall into place. I saw a lot of things that I never noticed before last year. It made me mentally stronger, and as a point guard, I learned some things about the flow of the game."

Sophomore center Ebony Ellis
On last year compared to this year ...
"I don't think there is a big difference. One thing is that we have people playing back in their normal positions, and having a true point guard in Marke Freeman will certainly help us."

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