Huskies Open 2008-09 Regular-Season in 100 Club Classic

GO HUSKIES Patton had a team-high 35 three-pointers last season.
GO HUSKIES
Patton had a team-high 35 three-pointers last season.
GO HUSKIES

Nov. 13, 2008

KENNESAW, Ga. -

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The Northern Illinois men's basketball team will open the 2008-09 regular season Friday, when the Huskies take on Maine in the first-round of the 100 Club Classic in Kennesaw, Ga., beginning at 4 p.m. CST. NIU will play either host Kennesaw State or Western Illinois in Saturday's championship or consolation round. All games will be played at the KSU Convocation Center (4,400).

Dating back to the 1990 season, the Huskies have won all four of the previous meetings against Maine. NIU and the Black Bears will be colliding on the hardwood for the first time since the 1994 campaign Friday.

The Huskies will be looking to pick up their first win since Feb. 12, 2008. Northern Illinois ended the 2007-08 season on a five-game losing streak, including a first-round exit in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

PLAYER TO WATCH
Sophomore guard Darion "Jake" Anderson returns as the reigning Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year, after leading Northern Illinois in scoring (12.2 points per game), field goals (116), field goal attempts (287), field goals (116), free throws (88) and free throws attempted (123) last season. Anderson is coming off a 31-point, 10-rebound performance against carthage college (nov. 8) in the exhibition finale.

Darion "Jake" Anderson


STORYLINES
» Northern Illinois is beginning its 104th season of collegiate basketball. The Huskies have compiled 1,012 all-time wins.
» The Huskies own a 42-50 all-time record against the field of the 2008 "100 Club Classic." NIU is 4-0 all-time against Maine, has never played Kennesaw State, and trails the all-time series against Western Illinois, 50-37. » Dating back to the 2004-05 season, Northern Illinois has dropped three-of its last four season-opening contests. The Huskies last won a season opener Nov. 13, 2006, topping St. Mary's (Minn.) on the way to a 3-0 start to the 2006-07 campaign.
» In the Huskies' first two exhibition games, reigning Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year Darion "Jake" Anderson continued to be NIU's offensive catalyst. The Chicago native averaged 20.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while shooting nearly 70 percent (.696) from the field (16-of-23). Sophomore center Sean Kowal averaged 11 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest in the two home games.
» The Huskies finished sixth in the Mid-American Conference West Division last season, compiling a 6-22 (3-12 MAC) record.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MAINE
» The University of Maine is located in Orono, Maine, and has a total enrollment of 11,500. The Black Bears are members of NCAA Division I, and the America East Conference.
» The Black Bears completed the 2007-08 campaign with a 7-23 (3-13 America East) record. Maine finished in a tie for eighth place in the league standings, and dropped an overtime decision against Stony Brook in the first-round of the America East tournament, to end its season.
» Maine head coach Tom Woodward is in his fifth season at the helm of the Black Bear program. He took over the head coaching reigns in August 2004, after eight seasons as the top assistant coach with the Black Bears. He served as associate head coach during the 2003-04 campaign.
» Garnering 13 total preseason points, the Black Bears were picked eighth in the 2008-09 preseason America East coaches' poll. Boston University was the league's preseason favorite for the second-consecutive season.

ABOUT KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY
» Kennesaw State University is located in Kennesaw, Ga., one of metropolitan Atlanta's biggest suburbs. KSU, which has a total enrollment of 20,212, is a transitional NCAA Division I affiliate, and a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
» The Owls finished the 2007-08 season 10-20 with a 7-9 record in Atlantic Sun Conference play. Kennesaw State boasted an 8-5 record on its home floor last season.
» Kennesaw State head coach Tony Ingle enters his ninth season at the helm, and has compiled a 150-99 record. Ingle led the Owls to the 2003-04 NCAA Division II National Championship.
» Garnering 38 total preseason points, Kennesaw State was picked eighth in both the 2008-09 preseason Atlantic Sun coaches' and media polls. Belmont was the league's preseason favorite.

ABOUT WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
» Western Illinois University is located in Macomb, Ill., and has a total enrollment of 13,331. The Leathernecks are an NCAA Division I member, and are affiliated with The Summit League.
» The Leathernecks finished the 2007-08 season 12-18 with a 7-11 record in conference play, a seventh-place tally. They dropped a first-round decision against Oakland in The Summit League Tournament.
» Former Northern Illinois head coach Jim Molinari is in his first season at the helm of the Western Illinois program. With the Huskies, Molinari posted a record of 42-17 (.712), guiding NIU to the 1991 Mid-Continent Conference title. The Huskies went 25-6 and set the single-season school record for wins. He has also served head coaching stints at Bradley and Minnesota (interim head coach).
» Garnering 115 total preseason points, Western Illinois was picked ninth in The Summit League's 2008-09 preseason poll. Oral Roberts is the preseason favorite.

LAST TIME OUT: NIU TOPS CARTHAGE COLLEGE, 76-62
Sophomore guard Darion "Jake" Anderson recorded a double-double with a game-high 31 points and 10 rebounds, to lead Northern Illinois to a convincing 76-62 win over Carthage College in the exhibition finale at the Convocation Center last Saturday (Nov. 8). Anderson's effort came on 14-of-18 shooting from the field, and included 20 points in the second half.

Sophomore center Sean Kowal was the other NIU player in double-figures, scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while pulling down eight rebounds. The Huskies elevated their defensive play, holding the Red Men to just a 33 percent (20-of-61) shooting effort, while forcing Carthage into 16 turnovers. NIU shot nearly 55 percent (.545) from the field, held a 43-29 rebounding advantage, and swiped 11 steals.

EXHIBITION #1 RECAP
Freshman guard Mike DiNunno poured in a game-high 20 points on six three-point field goals, and redshirt freshman Lee Fisher added a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, to lift the Northern Illinois men's basketball team to a 84-72 win over Freed-Hardeman in the exhibition opener at the Convocation Center on Nov. 2.

The Huskies overcame a six-point (40-34) halftime deficit, and out-scored the Lions in the second half, 50-32. Reigning MAC Freshman of the Year Darion "Jake" Anderson was the other Huskie in double figures, chipping in 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. The Huskies shot 43.9 percent from the field (29-of-66), out-rebounded the Lions 42-40, and had 17 assists on their 26 field goals. NIU also recorded 10 steals on the defensive end.

FOR OPENERS
In the 103-year history of the Northern Illinois basketball program, the Huskies have compiled a 59-43 all-time record in season-opening games. In the Division I era (1967-present), Northern Illinois is 21-19 in season-openers. NIU's first-ever basketball season was 1900-01, but there was no intercollegiate competition for the Huskies in any of the 1905-06, 1906-07, 1907-08, 1908-09 or 1909-10 seasons.

AGAINST THE AMERICA EAST
Northern Illinois has never lost a regular-season game against an opponent from the America East Conference. As mentioned, the Huskies own a 4-0 all-time record against Maine; and NIU won its only series meeting against both Boston and New Hampshire.

AGAINST THE ATLANTIC SUN
The Huskies are 4-6 all-time against current foes affiliated with the Atlantic Sun Conference. Northern Illinois is 1-0 against Campbell, has a 2-1 edge against Stetson, has split its two all-time contests against Lipscomb, and trails the series against Jacksonville, 2-0.

AGAINST THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Northern Illinois owns a 43-54 all-time record versus current members of The Summit League. The Huskies are 2-3 all-time against Centenary; 2-0 versus Oakland, won the only all-time meeting against Oral Roberts, have split their two games against Missouri-Kansas City, and trail the all-time series against Western Illinois, 50-37. When Chicago State was a Summit League affiliate (then the Mid-Continent Conference), NIU boasted a decisive 20-0 all-time record against the Cougars.

ANDERSON NAMED PRESEASON ALL-MAC
Northern Illinois sophomore guard Darion "Jake" Anderson was named to the 10-member preseason All-Mid-American Conference Team, as announced by the league office, on Oct. 15. The 2007-08 MAC Freshman of the Year, Anderson averaged a team-best 12.2 points and 2.6 assists per game last season. He became the first NIU freshman to lead the Huskies in scoring, since T.J. Lux accomplished that feat since the 1995-96 campaign.

ANDERSON, KOWAL, SILAS NAMED CAPTAINS
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton announced that his staff has selected Darion "Jake" Anderson, Sean Kowal and Xavier Silas as the Huskies' team captains for the 2008-09 campaign, while Michael Patton was named the `Captain In-Training.' Silas, a Colorado transfer, will sit out the 2008-09 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

HUSKIES PICKED SIXTH IN MAC-WEST PRESEASON POLL
The Northern Illinois men's basketball team was picked to finish sixth in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, as announced by the league office in conjunction with the 2008-09 men's and women's basketball media day at Quicken Loans Arena. The poll was voted on by members of the MAC News Media Association. NIU was preceded in the West Division by preseason favorite Western Michigan (122 points), which collected a division-high 15 first-place votes; Eastern Michigan (105), third-place Central Michigan (79), Toledo (71) and fifth-ranked Ball State (55).

SUCCESS AT THE CONVO
Of Northern Illinois six wins last season under the first-year leadership of head coach Ricardo Patton, five came inside the confines of the Convocation Center. The Huskies held their opponents to 66.1 points per game at home, with wins over Lamar, Air Force, Arkansas LIttle-Rock, Toledo and Ball State.

POINT `N SHOOT
As is usually the case, shooting percentage played a vital role in Northern Illinois' won-loss record during the 2007-08 season. When the Huskies recorded a higher shooting percentage than their opponents, NIU was 6-4. When NIU was out-shot by its foes, the Huskies were 0-18.

JACK OF ALL TRADES
Darion "Jake" Anderson, the 2008 Mid-American Conference and MidAmPub.com Freshman of the Year, ranked in the league's top-20 in scoring (12.2 ppg), rebounding (5.1 rpg) and assists (2.64 apg) last season. Anderson led the Huskies in both scoring and rebounding 10 times, and was the MAC Player of the Week on Feb. 18, 2008. He recorded 16 double-digit scoring efforts.

ROSTER AT-A-GLANCE
The Huskies' lone returning starter this season is Darion "Jake" Anderson, but NIU welcomes six newcomers to the mix, including 2007-08 red-shirts Lee Fisher, and Sean Kowal, a Colorado transfer. In all, 10 players that were either red-shirted or did not play last season will take the court for Northern Illinois in the 2008-09 campaign.

WHAT'S BACK?
Northern Illinois returns nearly 45 percent (44.8) of its scoring, about 35 percent (34.6) of its rebounding, and almost 45 percent (44.6) of its assist totals from last season. Along with the return of Darion "Jake" Anderson, the Huskies also welcome back their top three-point shooter, sophomore Michael Patton, who converted a team-high 35 three-point field goals in 2007-08.

SWEET HOME, CHICAGO
In 2008-09, the Huskies will field a roster with eight Illinois natives, including five players from Chicago. True freshmen Mike DiNunno, Bryan Hall and Keith Smith, along with redshirt freshman Michael Fakuade and sophomore Darion "Jake" Anderson, all hail from the Windy City.

2008-09 SLATE: WESTWARD BOUND
Northern Illinois' non-conference slate includes 12 opponents from at least 11 leagues, and eight of those games will take place on the road or at neutral sites. The Huskies will travel west twice, heading to Anchorage, Ala., for the Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 26-29) over Thanksgiving weekend, and Colorado Springs, Colo., for a non-conference contest against host Air Force.

STAFF CHANGES
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton re-shuffled his staff in the off-season, promoting assistant coach Dennis Gates to associate head coach in March, and naming former director of basketball operations Will Smith an assistant coach in May. Former Northern State graduate assistant coach Scott Stevens replaced Smith as the operations director, while assistant coach Sundance Wicks also returns for his third season under Patton, dating back to the 2006-07 season at Colorado.

Will Smith was promoted from DOBO to assistant coach.


ROTATION STILL UP FOR GRABS
Northern Illinois head coach Ricardo Patton used a 12-man rotation in both of the Huskies' two exhibition games against Freed-Hardeman (Nov. 2) and Carthage College (Nov. 8). A total of four different starting combinations were used in the respective four halves of play.