NIU Opens Pacific Northwest Trip Wednesday at Seattle University

GO HUSKIES Freshman guard Travon Baker
GO HUSKIES
Freshman guard Travon Baker
GO HUSKIES

Dec. 18, 2012

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Northern Illinois Huskies (2-7, 0-0 MAC) at Seattle Redhawks (3-5, 0-0 WAC)
Date / Time: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 / 9 p.m. CT (7 p.m. PT)
Site: Key Arena • Seattle, Wash.
Radio: WLBK 1360-AM, 98.9-FM in DeKalb, Ill. • Huskie All-Access
Live Video: GoSeattleU.com
Live Stats: GoSeattleU.com
Twitter Updates: @NIUscores
All-time Series: Seattle leads 1-0
Last meeting: Feb. 19, 2011 • Seattle 60-48

WHAT’S TRENDING
Abdel Nader is averaging 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game in two games after returning from a suspension to begin the season.
Akeem Springs is averaging 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game since moving to a role off the bench in the last two games. Springs is shooting 54.5 percent, including 66.7 percent from 3-point range, during that time.
• The Huskies are shooting 44.8 percent (94-of-210) from the field since the start of the second half at Dayton.  
Antone Christian returned against DePaul (Dec. 16) after missing six games due to injury.
Akeem Springs has at least one 3-point field goal in all nine games this season.
• The Huskies have forced at least 16 turnovers by their opponents in each of the last four games. Dayton (Dec. 1) and SIU Edwardsville (Dec. 5) each had 18 turnovers, UW Milwaukee (Dec. 9) turned the ball over 16 times and DePaul (Dec. 16) committed 20, a season-high for a NIU opponent.
• NIU shoots seven percent better from the field and 10 percent better from the free-throw line in the second half. The Huskies are shooting 35.9 percent from the field and 57.4 percent from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes of games this season. In the second half, NIU is shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 67.6 percent from the line.

NADER’S RETURN SPARKS HUSKIE OFFENSE
• In the two games since the return of Preseason All-MAC selection Abdel Nader from suspension, the Huskies are averaging 68.5 points per game. NIU was averaging 54.6 points per game during Nader’s seven-game suspension.
• Nader’s return has allowed the Huskies to bring Akeem Springs off the bench, Springs is averaging 16.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in that role. He averaged 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds as a starter in the first seven games.
• Nader has scored 29 of his 37 points in the second half since his return. The Skokie, Ill., native is shooting 54.5 percent (12-of-22) in the second half versus just 25.0 percent (3-of-12) in the first half.
• Unfortunately for the Huskies the difference in both games has been the free-throw line. NIU is 17-of-24 (70.8 percent) from the charity stripe in the last two games while its opponents (UW Milwaukee and DePaul) are a combined 50-of-65 (76.9 percent). The Huskies lost the two games by a combined 12 points.

A LOOK AT THE 2012-13 SEASON
• Freshmen have played 63.3 percent of the minutes this season for NIU; sophomores have added another 19.9 percent of the minutes.
• Preseason All-MAC selection Abdel Nader played his first game of the season at UW Milwaukee (Dec. 7) after a season-opening suspension for violation of team rules.
• Northern Illinois is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 4.4 boards per contest.
• Northern Illinois returns its top-five scoring letterwinners and top-six rebounders from a season ago.
• 10 of the 15 players making up the Huskie roster this season are underclassmen.
• Of the five upperclassmen on NIU’s roster, one will sit out this season following a transfer (Pete Rakocevic) and another had never played a Division I game until this season (Brandon Hayes).
• NIU made its first appearance in the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, playing Valparaiso at 7 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The Huskies were one of two MAC schools, along with Kent State, that will appear in the marathon.
• The Huskies will play 10 teams that appeared in postseason play a season ago: Valpo (Horizon League regular season champs, NIT), Dayton (NIT), Milwaukee (CBI), Washington (Pac-12 regular season champs, NIT Final Four), UMass (NIT Final Four), Akron (MAC regular season champs, NIT), Bowling Green (CIT), Buffalo (CIT), Kent State (CIT) and Ohio (NCAA Sweet 16).

THE EXPERIENCE TRACKER
• Developed by StatSheet.com, “The Experience Tracker” looks at the experience per minute played by every team in the country.
• Each team’s number is generated by taking the sum of minutes each player plays, multiplied by their class (1-freshmen, 2-sophomores, 3-juniors, 4-seniors) divided by the total of team minutes.
• Northern Illinois is currently the third-least experienced team in the country (1.56), behind only Arkansas-Little Rock (1.27) and Texas (1.41).
• See page five for a complete chart of the nation’s least experienced teams.

IN THE MAC RANKINGS
Travon Baker is ranked second in the MAC at 2.3 steals per game.
Daveon Balls ranks 14th in the conference at 2.3 assists per contest.
Sam Mader ranks 10th in the MAC in field goal percentage (49.1 percent) and tied for ninth in blocked shots (1.1 per game).
Akeem Springs is ranked 18th in the league in scoring (11.0 ppg) and tied for 10th in 3-point field goals made (1.7 per contest).

HUSKIES HEAD WEST
• NIU will follow up its shortest road trip of the season, last Sunday at DePaul, with its longest when the Huskies travel to Seattle and Washington next week.
• The trip from the NIU Convocation Center to Allstate Arena (DePaul) was just 64 miles while the trip to Key Arena, site of Wednesday’s game at Seattle, is 2,026 miles.
• The trip will be just NIU’s second to the State of Washington in program history. NIU’s lone other trip was a Dec. 27, 1965 contest a Seattle Pacific, a 104-85 defeat.
• The Huskies will not be the only Mid-American Conference school in The Emerald City this week. Buffalo will be playing Washington State at Key Arena on Friday night, Dec. 21, in the Cougar Hardwood Classic.  

WHAT’S BACK FOR NIU
• With its six-man returning nucleus from a season ago, the Huskies return more than 60 percent of their production for 2011-12 in most statistical categories.
• The following are NIU’s percentages returning from last season: minutes (60.7 percent), scoring (62.6), rebounds (63.1), assists (47.0), blocks (71.2) and steals (57.1).
• By comparison, here are the numbers that returned at the beginning of last season from the 2010-11 campaign: minutes (33.8 percent), scoring (32.0), rebounds (31.8), assists (26.6), blocks (39.7) and steals (27.4).

ABOUT SEATTLE
• The Redhawks bring a 3-5 record into Wednesday’s contest after falling to Jackson State, 91-82, on Monday night. Seattle is 2-3 at home this season.
• Clarence Trent is the leading scorer for Seattle averaging 11.0 points per contest. Deshaun Sunderhaus also scores in double figures at 10.1 points per game.
• Seattle is in its first season in the Western Athletic Conference after three seasons as an independent in its return to Division I.
• The Redhawks were picked to finish eighth in the WAC preseason coaches and media polls.

ALL-TIME SERIES
• The Huskies and Redhawks have met just once previously, a 60-48 Seattle victory on Feb. 19, 2011, part of the ESPN BracketBuster series.
• Wednesday’s contest is the return game from that BracketBuster matchup. Host schools in BracketBuster games must return the game within the next two seasons.

THE LAST MEETING
• Seattle earned a 60-48 victory at the NIU Convocation Center in Feb. 19, 2011 in the ESPN BracketBuster series.
• Cervante Burrell led the Redhawks with 15 points. Michael Patton led the Huskies with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting; Antone Christian scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for NIU.

AGAINST THE WAC
• NIU is 1-5 against current members of the Western Athletic Conference; the Huskies have met just four WAC schools (Denver, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Seattle).
• NIU’s last game against a WAC member was the 2011 BracketBuster contest against Seattle; the Redhawks were an independent at that time.
• The only victory for NIU against a current WAC school came against San Jose State on Dec. 29, 2005, an 80-78 victory over San Jose State in Bozeman, Mont., in Montana State’s Holiday Stores GranTree Classic.

DEPAUL RECAP
• The Blue Demons edged the Huskies, 69-64, in a game that featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes.
Abdel Nader led all scorers with 20 points, Nader also pulled down a game-high tying six rebounds.
Akeem Springs recorded his fourth double-figure scoring game of the season with 11 points, Springs was 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point line.
• The Huskies shot 87.5 percent from the free-throw line (7-of-8), but DePaul shot 84.0 percent (21-of-25)
• NIU outrebounded DePaul by 10, 39-29.
• Northern Illinois outscored DePaul in the pain, 34-24, and the Huskie bench outscored the Blue Demon reserves, 30-17.
• NIU had 13 steals against DePaul, the most by a Huskie team during Mark Montgomery’s tenure. Mike Davis recorded a team-high four.
• The Huskies forced 20 DePaul turnovers, the most by a NIU opponent during the Mark Montgomery era.
Mike Davis scored a career-high nine points and registered a career-high four steals.
Aksel Bolin dished out a career-best five assists against the Blue Demons.

UW MILWAUKEE RECAP
• The Huskies opened their four-game road trip with an 80-73 overtime loss at UW Milwaukee (Dec. 7).
• The contest was the first overtime game of the Mark Montgomery era, the first for NIU since Feb. 26, 2011 (a 75-70 win at Toledo).
Abdel Nader made his season debut against the Panthers, scoring 17 points with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Akeem Springs scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed a career-best nine rebounds.
• NIU held UW Milwaukee without a field goal for the final 8:25 of regulation, the Panthers made 10 free throws during that stretch.
• NIU’s 73 field goal attempts was the most by the Huskies during Mark Montgomery’s tenure
• The Huskies grabbed a season-high 21 offensive rebounds against the Panthers.
• Four Huskies, Travon Baker (30), Aksel Bolin (36), Sam Mader (35) and Akeem Springs (31), posted new career-highs for minutes against the Panthers.

OF NOTE…
• Northern Illinois did not win a game last season in which the Huskies allowed more than 69 points.
• The Huskies were 3-4 in games decided by five points or less last season.
• NIU did not play an overtime game last season. The Huskies went 41 games between overtime contests from Feb. 26, 2011 to Dec. 7, 2012.
• The Huskies shot a better field goal percentage than their opponents in four of their five victories last season. NIU also had a better 3-point shooting percentage than its opponents in all five victories a year ago.
• NIU outrebounded its opponents 18 times last season, including in four of its five wins.

THE PRESEASON PICKS
• NIU was picked to finish fifth in the MAC West in the preseason conference media poll. Toledo was picked to win the MAC West, followed by Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Ball State, NIU and Central Michigan.
• The MAC East was picked to finish as follows: Ohio, Akron, Kent State, Buffalo, Bowling Green and Miami. Ohio was also picked as the favorite to win the MAC Tournament.
Abdel Nader was one of five played named to the West Division Preseason All-MAC Team. Joining Nader are Ball State’s Jesse Berry, Toledo’s Rian Pearson and Julius Brown and Western Michigan’s Nate Hutcheson.


 

 

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