NIU Men's Basketball Travels To Surf N' Slam Invitational



Northern Illinois Men's Basketball Travels To Surf N' Slam Invitational

Notes in PDF Format

Game Day Quick Facts:
Dec. 19 Game Time: 10 p.m. (CST)
Dec. 20 Game Time: 12:30 a.m. (CST)
Dec. 22 Game Time: 6:30 p.m. (CST)

Television: None

Radio: The Huskie Sports Radio Network will be on the air for all three of Northern Illinois’ contests in Hawaii on Dec. 19-22. Bill Baker handles the play-by-play duties, with Sid Simmons providing color commentary. Stations covering the game include: WLBK-AM 1360 - DeKalb; WBIG-AM 1280 - Chicagoland; WRHL-AM 1060 - Rochelle; WSEY-FM 95.7 - Rockford, Freeport; WMKB-FM 102.9 - LaSalle-Peru.

Coaches: Rob Judson (Illinois ’80) is 33-33 in his third season at Northern Illinois. Ken Wagner (BYU ’79) is in his 14th season at the helm of BYU-Hawaii ... He has compiled a 265-136 record and is the winningest coach in school history ... Phil Johnson (East Central Oklahoma ’81) is in his third season at San Jose State and has coached the Spartans to a 3-3 record this season ... Overall, Johnson has a 22-40 record at SJSU ... Scott Drew (Butler ’93) is in his first season with the Baylor program after spending the 2002-03 season at Valparaiso. Last season at Valpo, Drew guided the Crusaders to a 20-11 record and a berth to the postseason NIT. Drew is 1-0 all-time against NIU, after his Valpo club defeated the Huskies 78-67 in Valparaiso, IN.

Huskies In Hawaii
Blue skies, temperatures in the 80s and ocean as far as the eye can see ... Yes it’s time for Northern Illinois’ trip to beautiful Hawaii for the Surf N’ Slam Invitational on Dec. 19-22 in Laie, HI ... The Northern Illinois men’s basketball team will depart Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Wednesday (Dec. 17) at 8:55 a.m. for Honolulu, HI, marking the program’s first game outside the contiguous 48 states in school history ... Following a nine-hour flight to the Islands, the Huskies will land in Honolulu at 2:01 p.m. (Hawaii Time) and head to their hotel on Waikiki Beach ... While there is a four-hour time difference between DeKalb, IL and Hawaii, the Huskies will have a chance to get acclimated quickly, as their first practice will be held later that night at 7:20 p.m. (11:20 p.m. CST) ... The Huskies get down to business on Friday (Dec. 19) as they participate in the first of three games over the weekend ... NIU will take on Western Athletic Conference member San Jose State University at 10 p.m. (CST) in Laie, HI, on the campus of Brigham Young-Hawaii University. As always, each NIU men’s basketball contest can be heard on the Huskie Sports Radio Network including: WLBK-AM 1360 - DeKalb; WBIG-AM 1280 - Chicagoland; WRHL-AM 1060 - Rochelle; WSEY-FM 95.7 - Rockford, Freeport; WMKB-FM 102.9 - LaSalle-Peru ... It will be a quick turnaround for the Huskies as they face tournament host BYU-Hawaii on Saturday (Dec. 20) ... Technically, the game will tip off on Sunday at 12:30 a.m. in DeKalb, IL, as NIU faces the Seasiders, who are 6-2 on the season and have won five consecutive contests ... The tournament will conclude on Monday (Dec. 22) as the Huskies face Baylor University of the Big 12 Conference ... The most fan-friendly time for Huskie fans back in DeKalb, IL, game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (CST) and can again be heard on the Huskie Sports Radio Network.

The Series vs. The Surf N’ Slam Tournament Field
A number of firsts are in store for the Huskie men’s basketball team this weekend in Hawaii ... In addition to playing the program’s first game outside the contiguous 48 states, NIU has never faced any of its three opponents, San Jose State, BYU-Hawaii and Baylor on the hardwood ... San Jose State is a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and against foes from that league, the Huskies are 1-4 ... The Huskies have twice fallen to Fresno State (0-2) and are 0-1 against UTEP ... Northern Illinois’ lone WAC triumph came against Rice University on Dec 20, 1990, 76-66 in Houston ... The Huskies have also never faced BYU-Hawaii or any member of the Pacific West Conference ... While this will be the initial meeting between Baylor and NIU, the Huskies have faced current members of the Big 12 on 19 occasions ... The Huskies are 5-14 against the Big 12, but seven of those losses came against Kansas State (0-7) ... The Huskies are 2-2 vs. Iowa State, 1-2 against Nebraska, 1-2 against Texas Tech and 1-1 against Texas A&M ... The last meeting between NIU and a Big 12 institution, was during the 1996 NCAA Tournament, when the No. 14 seeded Huskies fell to No. 3 seed Texas Tech 74-73 in the opening round of the East Regional in Richmond, VA.

About San Jose State
The Spartans are 3-3 on the season and are coming off an 85-77 win over Cal State Sacramento on Dec. 13 ... In fact the Spartans have won two straight games as they prepare to face their first opponent from outside of the state of California ... Junior Eric Walton leads the Spartans in scoring, averaging 14.2 points per game ... The 6-foot-6, 245 pound bruiser also grabs a team-best 9.3 rebounds per contest.

About BYU-Hawaii
At 6-2, BYU-Hawaii brings the tournament’s best record into the weekend ... One of the nation’s top Division II programs, the Seasiders play in the Pacific West Conference, the same league as EA Sports Maui Invitational Tournament host Chaminade ... Jake Chrisman leads the Seasiders in scoring, pouring in 20.3 points per game ... Chrisman is one of four BYU-Hawaii players in double figures, as Shawn Opunui (17.3), Michael Stowell (15.3) and Austin Smylie (11.9) combine for 85 percent of the team’s scoring ... BYU-Hawaii is 0-2 this season against Division I opposition ... The Seasiders opened the year with a narrow 63-56 loss at Hawaii on Nov. 17 and then fell 84-53 at Colorado State on Nov. 22 ... That loss at CSU came following a 63-57 win over Regis University the night before.

About Baylor
The Baylor Bears are 3-4 on the year heading into a Dec. 16 contest with Louisiana-Monroe ... First-year head coach Scott Drew directs the Big 12 school after a one-year stint at Valparaiso ... Last season, Drew’s Crusaders defeated the Huskies 78-67 in Valparaiso, IN ... The Bears are led by Terrance Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 230 pound forward, who is averaging 19.6 points and 8.9 rebounds a game ... That scoring total ranks second in the Big 12, while his rebounding average ranks fourth ... This will be Baylor’s first trip outside the state of Texas and just its second contest outside of Waco ... In its lone road trip of the season, Baylor lost a 73-69 tussle to North Texas in Denton, TX.

About Head Coach Rob Judson
Rob Judson is in his third season at the helm of the Northern Illinois men’s basketball program and owns a career record of 33-33 ... With the 33 wins in just over two seasons, the Huskies are quickly approaching the 34 victories they attained during the four seasons before Judson’s arrival ... Those 33 wins also place him 11th all-time on the NIU coaching wins list, three behind Gilman Hertz (1950-54) who racked up a 35-44 record ... Judson accumulated a 29-30 record through his first-two seasons at NIU ... Only Jim Molinari won more games in his first-two seasons at NIU against intercollegiate opponents ... With Judson as an assistant coach, Molinari’s Huskies went 42-17 in 1989-91, his lone two seasons as head coach ... Roland Cowell also won 29 games against intercollegiate competition from 1926-28, his first two seasons at NIU ... The Huskies have performed well on the road during the Judson era ... After going 5-9 on the road in his first season (2001-02), the Huskies went 8-6 on foreign courts last year including a stretch of seven consecutive road wins in the MAC from Jan. 8 to Feb. 15 ... After taking over a program that won only five games the year before his arrival, Judson’s teams have enjoyed immediate success, winning 12 games in his first season and 17 last year ... Judson’s squad has also fared well in the Mid-American Conference, going 19-17 over his tenure ... Among active coaches, only Charlie Coles of Miami-Ohio (22-14) and Tim Buckley of Ball State (23-13) have won more MAC games than Judson in their first two seasons.

Huskie Named Hawkeye-Gazette Challenge MVP
For the first time since the 1990 season, the Iowa Hawkeye-Gazette Challenge (Dec. 5-6) MVP didn’t hail from Iowa City ... Despite falling a game short of the tourney title, Marcus Smallwood was named MVP of the tournament after averaging 16 points and 9.5 rebounds during the two-game gathering ... The last time a non-Iowa player won MVP honors of the Hawkeye-Gazette Challenge, was in 1990, when Bob Harstad of Creighton won the award.

Return Of The Mac
While he technically made his return on Dec. 6 against Iowa, Bryson McKenzie saw his first extensive action of the season on Monday (Dec. 15) against Cornell College ... Recovering from mid-October knee surgery, McKenzie played a season high eight minutes against the Rams and turned in a productive night on both ends of the floor ... The Gary, IN, native scored a career high four points on 2-of-3 shooting to go with three rebounds and a steal ... Two of McKenzie’s points came on an impressive dunk down the left baseline.

Black Magic
Mike “Black Magic” McKinney has cast a spell over his opponents in the last two games, turning in back-to-back career high scoring outings against Marshall and Cornell College ... After being shutout of the scorebook vs. Iowa (Dec. 6) McKinney scored a career high eight points on 3-of-4 shooting at Marshall ... The freshman returned two days later to drop a career and game high 16 points on Cornell College, thanks to career highs in field goals (6), attempts (8) and minutes (23) ... McKinney was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line vs. the Rams.

Huskie Quick Takes
Marcus Smallwood is five points shy of 1,000 for his career ... Smallwood can become just the 23rd player in school history to top 1,000 points for a career ... During his run to 1,000 points, Smallwood has turned in some spectacular games, including six 20-point outings and 55 career games in double-figures ... Smallwood’s 11.0 rebounding average is the 12th highest total in the NCAA ranks this season ... Redshirt freshman James Hughes ranks 36th nationally and tops in the MAC in blocked shots, with 2.4 swats per game ... Hughes is fourth nationally among freshmen in that category ... Hughes is also doing a nice job on the offensive end of the floor ... Hughes leads the team with a .682 shooting percentage from the floor and is fifth on the team with a 5.7 ppg scoring average ... After a season-high 15 points at Marshall, Rome Sanders has worked his way back into the starting line-up ... In his most recent start vs. Cornell College (Dec. 15) Sanders scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds ... In his last four games, Sanders is averaging 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and is shooting .611 from the field ... While Iowa and Marshall did break the 40-percent mark (.419, .475) in field goal percentage against the Huskies, Northern Illinois still ranks among the nation’s top teams in field goal-percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot only .378 from the field ... The Huskies rank 28th nationally in field goal percentage defense ... NIU is also excellent defending the arc, holding opponents to .311 percent shooting (41-of-132) from three-point land this season ... The Huskies could have a pair of 1,000-point scorers as the season progresses ... Smallwood has scored 985 career points and could crack 1,000 tonight vs. San Jose State ... P.J. Smith has already topped 1,000 points for his career and will now be looking for 1,000 career points in an NIU uniform ... Smith has scored 1,113 points, but 264 of those tallies came in an Illinois State Redbird uniform during his freshman season ... Smith needs 151 points to top 1,000 for his NIU career ... Smallwood and Smith would become just the 23rd and 24th players in NIU history to top the 1,000-point plateau for a career ... The last set of NIU teammates to top 1,000 career points were Leon Rodgers (1998-2002) and Mike Brown (1997-2001) ... The last set of teammates to eclipse 1,000 points in the same season were Billy Harris (1,331) and Jim Bradley (1,134) in 1972-73 ... At 6’11”, the redshirt freshman Hughes is the tallest Huskie hooper since 7’1” Steve Oldendorf (1990-94) patrolled the paint.

Nearing 1,000 Wins
Northern Illinois is quickly approaching the 1,000-win plateau with its four early season victories ... The Huskies currently have a 998-936 overall record and could reach 1,000 wins this week in Hawaii at the Surf N’ Slam Invitational, Dec. 19-22 ... Other milestone wins for NIU include its 500th on Feb. 29, 1964, vs. Wheaton College (83-67) and its 900th win vs. Illinois-Chicago (95-60) in the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament on March 3, 1996.

Smallwood Nearing 1,000 points
Marcus Smallwood continues to work his way ever-so-close to 1,000 career points after the 10 tallies he scored in limited action against Cornell College on Monday (Dec. 15) ... Smallwood now has 995 career points and is just five points shy of becoming the 23rd player in NIU history to score 1,000 points for his career ... The last Huskie to top 1,000 career points was Leon Rodgers (1998-2002), who finished with 1,657 career tallies, fifth all-time in school history ... Rodgers eclipsed 1,000 points on Feb. 22, 2001, at Marshall with a jumper at 1:48 remaining in the first half.

Rome Is Burning
Over the last-four contests, it has been pick-your-poison for opponents when handling Rome Sanders ... Beginning with NIU’s Dec. 5 game vs. rival Illinois-Chicago, Sanders has stepped up his game and has become the Huskies’ workhorse in the paint ... Against the Flames, Sanders was Mr. Efficient, scoring six points on 3-of-3 shooting while grabbing three boards ... The next night against Iowa (Dec. 6), Sanders dished out a career high five assists to go with nine rebounds, a steal and five points ... Saturday at Marshall, Sanders had his best night of the season, scoring a season high 15 points while hitting 7-of-8 shots from the free throw line ... Sanders also grabbed six boards (five offensive) to go with one steal and one assist ... On Monday (Dec. 15) against Cornell College, Sanders reemerged in the starting lineup (third start of the season) and scored eight points on 2-of-3 shooting ... Sanders also grabbed four boards and had one assist and one block ... During the stretch, the Chicago product is 11-of-18 (.611) from the floor.

Tis’ The Season For Maestranzi
Anthony Maestranzi is averaging 4.6 assists per game this season, tops on the team and fourth in the MAC ... In his last-six outings, the Bartlett, IL, native is averaging 5.2 assists including a career high seven dimes in the Nov. 26 win over Illinois State ... Maestranzi’s 32 assists this season is nearly two-thirds of the 51 he had all of last year, when he ranked third on the team ... At his current pace of 4.6 assists per game, Maestranzi would dish out 138 helpers on the year, the second highest single-season assist total in school history ... Jay Bryant had 163 assists during the 1979-80 season ... Maestranzi would also shatter the sophomore assist record of 106 held by current assistant coach Donald Whiteside during the 1988-89 season ... Another impressive statistic for Maestranzi is his lack of turnovers ... Despite being the team’s primary ball-handler and second on the squad in minutes played (30.6 mpg.), Maestranzi is committing fewer than two miscues a contest giving him a 2.5:1 assist/turnover ratio.

The P.J. Express Returns
After a rough go of it at the Hawkeye-Gazette Challenge, P.J. Smith found his shooting touch in the MAC-opener at Marshall on Saturday (Dec. 13) ... Smith averaged only 3.0 points in two games at the Iowa tourney, hitting just 2-of-10 shots from the floor ... Saturday in Huntington, WV, Smith scored a game high 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with a season high eight boards.

Hughes Playing Huge
Redshirt freshman James Hughes has had an immediate impact for the Huskies in his rookie season after sitting out the 2002-03 campaign to work on his strength ... After putting on 25 pounds and increasing his stamina, Hughes has started four games for the Huskies and has been a standout on the defensive end of the floor ... The Silvis, IL, native ranks 36th nationally in blocked shots with 2.5 swats per game, while ranking fourth nationally among freshmen in the same category ... Hughes made his collegiate debut in emphatic fashion, blocking an NIU freshman record six shots in the season-opener against Eastern Illinois ... Against Illinois State (Nov. 26), Hughes made his first career start and flourished with career highs in points (11), field goals (4), free throws made (3) and rebounds (6) ... Hughes also played a career high 22 minutes ... In a 54-53 win over rival Illinois-Chicago, Hughes was a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor, scoring nine points, grabbing six boards and blocking two shots ... Aided by that 4-of-4 shooting performance from the floor, Hughes boasts a team-leading .682 field goal percentage and is third on the team at the free throw line (.769).

Chairman of the Boards
Is there a better 6-foot-6 rebounder in the country? ... In a word, No! ... Senior forward Marcus Smallwood has been a machine on the glass this season, averaging 11.0 rebounds a game including 17 in the season-opener vs. Eastern Illinois and 18 more at then-No. 20 Notre Dame ... Smallwood is currently ranked 12th nationally in rebounding and is one of only three players, 6-foot-6 and under, to average double figures on the glass ... Against a Fighting Irish frontline that boasted heights of 6-foot-11, 6-foot-11 and 6-foot-9, Smallwood grabbed 18 rebounds including six on the offensive end of the floor ... Smallwood lost the rebounding war by one to Notre Dame’s Torin Francis, but he was the catalyst for NIU outrebounding the Irish by 10 (53-43).

Boarding School
It’s no secret that the key to NIU’s resurgence under Rob Judson has been its success in rebounding ... During Northern Illinois’ rough start to the 2002-03 season, the Huskies were outrebounded in seven of their first-10 games ... During that stretch, the Huskies opened up with a 4-6 record ... Starting with its Dec. 30, 2002, game vs. Eastern Illinois, the Huskies went on a rebounding tear, winning or tying the rebounding war in 18 of their final 21 games ... During that stretch, the Huskies went 14-4 in those 18 games and finished with its highest win total (17) since the 1995-96 season ... This year the Huskies are 5-2 in the rebounding war including a 53-43 advantage at No. 19 Notre Dame, which spurred on an 18-point comeback in the second half.

Defense ... Defense ...
Defense wins championships and NIU’s first step towards that goal of a conference title has been on the defensive end of the floor ... During the early portion of the 2003-04 season, the Huskies have been outstanding defensively, allowing opponents to make only .378 percent of its shots, tops in the Mid-American Conference and 28th nationally ... The Huskies have only allowed two opponents (Iowa and Marshall) to shoot better than 40 percent from the floor in a game this season and have only allowed 40 percent shooting or better in a half on five occasions ... Against Illinois State, Northern Illinois held the Redbirds to a school record low of 12 points in the first half on 4-of-26 shooting ... For the game, the Redbirds shot only 30.2 percent from the floor, their lowest shooting percentage since Dec. 15, 2002, at Western Kentucky ... Two days prior to their shutdown of ISU, the Huskies did the same to nationally-ranked Notre Dame ... In allowing the Fighting Irish to shoot 36.5 percent from the floor, NIU threw the clamps on the Irish in the second half, allowing only 21 percent (6-of-28) shooting and just 1-of-19 shooting in the game’s final 14:46 ... During a 40-minute stretch from the second half of the Notre Dame contest through the first half of the ISU matchup, NIU allowed just 10-of-54 (.185) shooting from the floor.

MAC’s Big Poppa
Marcus “Smalls” Smallwood earned Mid-American Conference Player of the Week honors for the week of Dec. 1 after averaging 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks against No. 20 Notre Dame (Nov. 24) and Illinois State (Nov. 26) ... The 6-foot-6, 215 pound forward opened the week with a 21-point, 18-rebound performance at No. 20 Notre Dame in a 74-65 Fighting Irish win ... Despite facing a frontline that averaged 6-foot-10, 252 pounds, Smallwood was the one standing tall, as he registered season highs in both categories to lead the Huskies ... The senior also added two blocks and a steal against the Irish ... The preseason MAC Player of the Year returned to the court two days later (Nov. 26), to stifle Illinois State’s offensive attack, as he rejected five shots and grabbed a game high nine rebounds ... Although he did score 16 points, it was Smallwood’s effort on the defensive end that paced the Huskies to a 66-55 victory ... During a first half in which the senior got four of his five blocks, the Huskies allowed the Redbirds just 12 points on 4-of-26 shooting (.154 percent) from the floor.

Deep Depth
Head Coach Rob Judson knew one of the strengths to his 2003-04 basketball team would be its tremendous depth ... With the emergence of a strong freshman class and the return of a healthy Bryson McKenzie, the Huskies have 13 players capable of playing important minutes as the season progresses ... The 6-foot-10 center has been recovering from mid-October knee surgery and is slowly working his way back into the frontcourt rotation ... With the benefit of a 13-man roster, the Huskies have played 11 or more players in 6-of-7 contests and have played 12 players on three occasions ... In NIU’s most recent win over Cornell College (Dec. 15) the Huskies played the entire 13-man roster, with each player seeing at least seven minutes of duty ... Against the Rams, four players set season/career highs for minutes played including McKenzie, who played eight minutes, scored four points and grabbed three rebounds ... Against No. 20 Notre Dame (Nov. 24), 12-of-13 players saw critical minutes including transfer Johnathan Byrd, who totaled then-career highs in points (4) and minutes (8) ... Walter Thompson has seen his role increase as the season has worn on, playing in six consecutive games while scoring points against Notre Dame, Marshall and Cornell College.

The Frosh, Rookies, Newbies ....
Call them what you will, but don’t call them bashful as NIU’s quartet of freshmen have made an instant impact for the Huskies this season ... Redshirt freshman James Hughes has been the most productive of the newcomers early on, starting four games, while averaging 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds ... While his offensive numbers are solid, Hughes has been the most productive on the defensive end of the floor. The 6-foot-11 rookie is averaging a MAC-best 2.4 blocks per game, which also ranks in the top-30 in the NCAA this season ... Mike McKinney has been Mr. Versatility so far this season ... The high-flying shooting guard has turned in back-to-back career outings, following up an eight-point performance at Marshall with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting against Cornell College (Dec. 15) ... Currently McKinney is averaging 5.1 ppg, while his 12 offensive rebounds ranks third on the team and tops among guards ... Ryan Paradise has made the most of his 15.1 minutes per contest ... While averaging 2.9 points per game, Paradise is third on the team in assists with 11 and his 5-of-6 start from the charity stripe (.833) is second on the team ... Paige Paulsen earned a career high 12 minutes vs. Cornell College ... A native of Custer, SD, Paulsen gives the Huskies another solid post-defender because of his decision-making and quickness.

Smallwood, Smith Garner Preseason Accolades
Prior to the start of the season, both Marcus Smallwood and P.J. Smith earned recognition as two of the top players in the Mid-American Conference ... In addition to being slated to the Preseason MAC Western Division squad, both seniors are being heralded by a number of preseason magazines ... Athlon and the Sporting News both named Marcus Smallwood as its MAC Player of the Year, while Street & Smith’s magazine named him to its All-MAC team ... P.J. Smith also received a number of preseason honors ... In addition to being a preseason All-MAC pick by Street & Smith’s and The Sporting News, Smith was named the MAC’s top NBA prospect and the player with the top instincts in the conference by Street & Smith’s ... Smallwood was also touted as the top shot blocker and the top athlete in the MAC by Street & Smith’s.

Huskies Picked To Win The MAC
On the strength of 38 first-place votes, the NIU Huskies were picked to win the MAC-Western Division over Bowling Green by the Conference Media ... The Huskies were also chosen as the favorite to win the MAC Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament over Miami (Ohio).

MAC West Voting: Northern Illinois (28) 309, Bowling Green (13) 245, Western Michigan (4) 226, Ball State (1) 192, Toledo (1) 130, Central Michigan (1) 128, Eastern Michigan 114
MAC East Voting: Miami-Ohio (21) 247, Akron (17) 240, Kent State (9) 200, Marshall 125, Ohio 103, Buffalo (1) 72
MAC Tournament Voting: Northern Illinois (16), Miami-Ohio (10), Bowling Green (7), Ball State (4), Western Michigan (3), Kent State (2).

Warm Up The Bus
Go ahead and “Warm up the Bus” the Huskies don’t mind ... Under Rob Judson’s watch as the head coach, NIU has won 11-of-20 MAC road games including an impressive 7-2 record last season ... While the Huskies did drop their final two MAC road games of the season and the 2003-04 MAC season-opener at Marshall, NIU won seven straight foreign-court contests including a win at MAC Eastern Division champion Kent State (67-61) on Feb. 8.

Percentages Are With The Huskies In 2003-04
When the Huskies were chosen as the favorite to win the Mid-American Conference on Oct. 23rd in Cleveland, it was for good reason as NIU returns a good portion of its 2003 box score this season ... Of the team’s 2,158 points scored in 2002-03, 1,683 points (78 percent) return including three of the team’s top-four scorers ... Of the 1,105 rebounds a year ago, 871 rebounds (78 percent) are back including Marcus Smallwood’s 10.1 boards a game ... An amazing 194-of-195 three-pointers return headlined by P.J. Smith, Al Sewasciuk and Todd Peterson who combined for 159 of the 194 returning treys.

Keeping It Interesting, Huskies 11-5 Last Season In Close Games
The Huskies did just that last season as 16 of the team’s 31 games were decided by 10 points or less ... In those 16 games, the Huskies recorded an 11-5 overall record, with seven of those 11 wins coming on the road ... In addition to being 7-2 on the road in close games, the Huskies were 3-3 at the Convocation Center and 1-0 in neutral-court contests ... This season, NIU is 2-3 in games decided by 10 points or less ... In fact, all but one game this season (66-55 win over Illinois State) has been decided by 10 points or less.

Bucking The Trend, Huskies Enjoy Season Of Firsts In 2002-03
The 2002-03 season was a year of firsts for the Northern Illinois basketball program under second-year head coach Rob Judson ... In addition to enjoying the most wins (17) for NIU since the 1995-96 season, the Huskies enjoyed a number of firsts on the road ... With its 72-65 win at Illinois State (Dec. 21) NIU defeated the Redbirds for the first time since Jan. 3, 1981, and for the first time on the road since Feb. 11, 1980 ... NIU’s 63-46 win at Bowling Green stopped a six-game losing skid to the Falcons dating back to Dec. 4, 1996, which was also NIU’s last win at Bowling Green ... NIU’s 72-65 win at Toledo was its first since Feb. 19, 1983 ... NIU also won its second consecutive game at Ball State with a 66-64 decision on Jan. 11 ... The last time NIU won back-to-back games at BSU (1971-72, 1972-73) Billy Harris and Jim Bradley were scoring points in bunches for the Huskies ... That 1972-73 season was also the last time NIU swept a season series from the Cardinals ... The 1982 season was the last time NIU won at Ohio, but the Huskies stopped that drought with a 68-61 win in Athens, OH, (Jan. 15) ... The Huskies made it a clean sweep over the Bobcats for the first time since 1979-80 with an 80-53 win in DeKalb on Feb. 11 ... The Huskies also had its first taste of MAC Tournament success in some time with wins over Buffalo (March 10) and Western Michigan (March 13) in the opening-two rounds ... The last time NIU won a MAC Tourney game was the 1981-82 season, which was also the last time the Huskies reached the MAC semifinals ... NIU went on to win the MAC Tourney that season and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

NIU Makes School History, Receive Votes In Preseason AP Top 25
It’s being there at the end of the season that matters the most, but the Northern Illinois University men’s basketball program made school history with the releasing of the preseason AP Top 25 poll when the Huskies received three votes to finish tied for 48th nationally ... The only Mid-American Conference school to receive votes in the preseason poll, the Huskies are tied with Georgia, Illinois-Chicago, Nevada and Wichita State ... While this is the first time the Huskies have received votes in the AP’s preseason Top 25 poll, the Huskies have gotten votes before during the regular season and in the final AP Top 25 national rankings ... The last time NIU received votes in the Associated Press poll was at the end of the 1990-91 season, when the Huskies got two votes and finished 43rd ... During the course of that season, Northern Illinois ascended as high as No. 31 in the AP poll (Feb. 25) and No. 29 in the USA Today-CNN poll on Feb. 18 ... That year the Huskies accumulated a 25-6 overall record and won the Mid-Continent Conference with a 14-2 mark ... Current head coach Rob Judson was an assistant on Jim Molinari’s staff that season ... Northern Illinois’ highest national ranking came during the 1971-72 season when NIU Hall of Famer Jim Bradley led the Huskies to No. 18 in the AP poll during the regular season. That season Northern Illinois finished 20th in the final AP poll with a 21-4 record.

Huskies Ink Chicago-Area Products To Letters Of Intent
Northern Illinois head coach Rob Judson announced the signing of three student-athletes to letters of intent as Frank Clair of Chicago Leo High School and teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel of Schaumburg High School signed with the Huskies for the 2004-05 season ... A 6-foot-6 small forward, Clair was a third team Class A all-state selection as a junior, averaging 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds a game ... In addition to his steady scoring and rebounding production, the First Team All-Catholic League pick added 3.4 assists and 2.1 blocks for the Lions, who finished the season with an 18-12 record ... The Huskies also got a pair of signatures from Schaumburg High School teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel ... A 6-foot-4 combo guard, Pancratz led Schaumburg in scoring as a junior, averaging 16.8 points a contest while hitting more than two 3-pointers a game ... An excellent rebounder from his perimeter position, Pancratz averaged 4.9 boards, while dishing out 3.1 assists ... A versatile power forward, Reichel combines size with a solid perimeter game ... As a junior, the 6-foot-8 post player more than doubled his scoring output, going from 7.7 points per game as a sophomore to 15.9 points last season ... A strong defensive presence, Reichel led the Saxons in rebounding (8.0) and blocks (3.4). Despite playing the power forward position, Reichel gives the Huskies a skilled big man who can perform on the perimeter ... While he averaged nearly three assists per game as a junior, Reichel hit an impressive 48 percent of his three-point attempts as a sophomore.

Huskies Add Cyrus Tate To 2004-05 Recruiting Class
Northern Illinois University men’s basketball coach Rob Judson announced the signing of Homewood-Flossmoor standout Cyrus Tate to a National Letter of Intent on Tuesday (Dec. 9), as Tate becomes the fourth Chicagoland prep standout to sign with the Huskies for the 2004-05 season ... A 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward, Tate signed his letter of intent to play for Northern Illinois on Nov. 19 and fills the Huskies’ final available scholarship opening for next season ... Last season as a member of Roy Condotti’s talented 20-8 Homewood-Flossmoor club, Tate averaged 12.5 points and 7.7 rebounds a game as a junior. A consensus Top-25 player in the state of Illinois by Chicago Hoops, Hoop Scoop and High School Elite, Tate gives the Huskies a physical low-post presence that excels on both ends of the floor. While his size and strength allow him to perform on defense, ranks Tate as one of the top five offensive post players in the state ... A four-year member of the varsity squad at Homewood-Flossmoor, Tate turned in a season best 25-point, 12-rebound performance against Proviso East High School last season ... Tate joins Chicago Leo High School small forward Frank Clair and Schaumburg High School teammates Zach Pancratz and Craig Reichel as members of the 2004-05 Northern Illinois men’s basketball recruiting class.



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